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This is not a shopping question. I want to know if my basis for technical dependencies is correct. In other words, I should investigate CPU support for certain features before getting lost in a myriad of motherboards.

I need something that supports

  • Quad channel memory
  • PCI 3.0 Support
  • 2 or 4 slots of PCI 16x


  • The Desktop version of Sandy Bridge [socket 2011][2] and is upgradeable to Ivy Bridge on most motherboards, therefore the same migration path for FCLGA2011 servers will be the same.

  • The server version of each desktop CPU is released 1 year after the desktop version.


  • Verify assumption #1 Since a cheap ASUS motherboard supports 4 channel RAM, PCI 2.0, and socket 2011, will it support PCI3 when Intel releases a Ivy Bridge CPU?

  • Am I correct in inferring that FCLGA2011 (Sandy Bridge with PCI 2.0 support) can be replaced with a Ivy Bridge equivalent that supports PCI3 and 4 channels of RAM?

  • What tool or technique can I use to locate such a motherboard? Should I start by searching the CPU? Is there any tool that allows me to search by memory bus lane count, and PCI lane count @ 16x


The purpose of these machines is for 3D graphics rendering and will run a heavy GPU-RAM load, hence my desire for PCI3 and quad channel RAM. Please let me know if my needs are mis-specified and I should revise (Use PCI 2 instead of 3, different bus speed, etc)

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The E5 will have 4 channel memory with PCI 3.0 support, the E3 series will have only 2 channel and PCI 2.0. The Sandy Bridge E7's don't yet have specs released, but should be similar to the E5 in basics once they come out.

As for lanes, The E3 will have 20 (1 x16 support) lanes, the E5 has 40 (2 x16 support) lanes, and they're not telling us how many lanes the E7 will have. It doesn't look likely that you'll get your 4x 16x PCI3 config out of what we know so far.

A handy comparison chart from Intel demonstrating this.

Generally, maximal PCI support is governed by the chipset and I'm not familiar with what's available in the pre-release state for that yet. But, if a MB has PCI2 support on it, replacing the CPU will not magically grant it PCI3 compatibility if the Chipset also doesn't have support.

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