Intel will be launching its Core “Coffee Lake” mainstream desktop platform later this year with the Core i7 and Core i5 processors coming first. Leaked company slides detail the chipset and one interesting thing was seen, the chipset itself puts out 24 PCI-Express gen 3.0 lanes. That does not account for the 16 lanes the processors puts out for two PEG (PCI-Express Graphics) slots.
This is a huge leap from the 8-12 general purpose lanes that were in previous Intel chipsets. This will enable motherboard manufacturers to add even more M.2 and U.2 storage options, USB 3.1, Thunderbolt controllers and more. The chipset itself actually integrates a 10-port USB 3.1 controller, of which six ports run at 10 Gbps, and four at 5 Gbps.
There will also be onboard controllers for SATA ACHI/RAID with six SATA 6GB/s ports. The platform will also introduce either an M.2 or U.2 port which is directly wired to the processor. This is what AMD has done one the AM4 platform, in which a M.2/U.2 is wired directly to the SoC, besides two SATA 6 Gbps ports. The “Coffee Lake” chipset also integrates a WLAN interface with 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0, though we think only the controller logic is integrated, and not the PHY itself (which needs to be isolated for signal integrity).
Intel will finally be updating their audio standards as well. Gone will be the 15-year old Azalia (HD Audio) specification and will be replaced with the new Intel SmartSound Technology which makes use of a “quad-core” DSP directly into the chipset, with a reduced-function CODEC sitting elsewhere on the motherboard, probably wired using I2S.
According to the leaked roadmaps below Intel will launch their first 8th Generation Core “Coffee Lake” processors along with motherboards based off the Z370 chipset within Q3-2017. Value variants will only launch in 2018.