We are spoiled for choice.
Intel is preparing a fleet of motherboard chipsets for their 12th-gen Core Alder Lake processors. Falling under the 600-series nomenclature, they span from the entry-level to the high-end desktop (HEDT) tier, something that hasn’t happened since 2017. The list of 600-series chipsets was found inside Intel’s own drivers. It includes equivalents to the 500-series, namely a Z690, an H670, a B660, and an H610, but also new prosumer and workstation lines.
The flagship chipset is the mysterious X699. Intel’s last xx99 chipset was the X299, which supported the first two generations of Core i9 processors, Skylake-X and Cascade Lake-X. In turn, then, X699 will be associated with some sort of HEDT series, but there’s no information on that yet.
Stepping down a notch, the Intel Z690 chipset is a little more familiar. It’s the flagship consumer platform for gamers and enthusiasts. Expect two channels of DDR5 memory, and at least enough PCIe 5.0 lanes for the GPU. Intel might throw in some high-speed networking, too.
Intel Chipset Device Software Version 10.1.18836.8283 pic.twitter.com/E1Np1cLD2P
— HXL (@9550pro) August 21, 2021
The Intel H670, as well as its corporate and laptop counterparts, the Q670 and Q670E, are likely to lose overclocking support and maybe DDR5. The Intel B660 will most likely have a feature set similar to the H670, but will lack some connections and PCIe 5.0 lanes. The H610 and H610E will offer just enough functionality to satisfy the demands of most consumers.
The Intel W685 and W680 workstation chipsets are more intriguing. The distinction between the two might be DDR5 versus DDR4. They will be compatible with Xeon versions of the Alder Lake consumer and enthusiast processors. The W580 chipset from Intel has many of the same features as the Z590 chipset, with the exception of the ability to overclock, which is to be expected.
The R680E chipset is a bit of a curiosity. Its name suggests that it will be employed in embedded laptop applications, although its feature set is still unknown.
Aside from the cool features, the true function of a chipset is to release the full potential of the processor. Consider this a wake-up call, Intel: learn from the B560 tragedy and confirm the power restriction rules, or else all of your hard work on these chipsets will be for nought.
Image credit: Šimom Caban