Intel is planning to stop producing the Z690 and B660 chipsets in the current quarter, despite launching them alongside the 12th Gen Alder Lake CPU family in late 2021, according to a report by MyDrivers.
It comes as a surprise as these chipsets have been on the market for only a short period of time, but it looks like that this move is to make room for the newer Z790 and B760 chipsets.
Although the Z690 and B660 motherboards are still available in retail, the fact that there have been recent impressive deals on them suggests that they may be nearing the end of their life cycle.
The official replacement for Intel’s 600-series PCH lineup is the Z790 and B760 chipsets. However, users may need a stronger incentive to upgrade due to the relatively minor feature improvements and the added expense.
Moreover, the Z790 and B760 chipsets are designed to work with the same LGA 1700/1800 socket as their predecessors, which means users can easily upgrade to a 13th Gen CPU without the need for a new motherboard. This compatibility feature provides users with a cost-effective solution for upgrading their system.
Intel introduced the Z690 motherboard in October 2021, but after only a year and a half, it is already being phased out. The budget-friendly B660 chipset was released in January of the prior year. As there has been no news of an H710, Intel plans to introduce newer, possibly more economical options.
The Z790 and B760 chipsets are the successors of the Z690 and B660, respectively. All four support both Alder Lake and Raptor Lake CPUs. Curiously, the 700 series motherboards bring few significant changes compared to the previous generation. For instance, the Z790 board only increased the number of PCIe Gen 4 lanes from 12 to 20 (versus Z690), but it also decreased the number of PCIe Gen 3 lanes by 8.
When Intel launches a new set of desktop processors, it usually brings forth a range of chipsets with different functionalities. For the 12th Generation Core series, Intel introduced its CPUs alongside the Z690 chipset, which is the top-of-the-line offering. Subsequently, it also released the more affordable H660, B660, and H610 chipsets. Later on, Intel tends to add a W-series chipset aimed at workstations and several Xeon-E series chipsets to its lineup.
The Intel W680 chipset is the designated workstation for the 12th Gen Core platform and boasts several noteworthy features. One of its standout features is its official support for ECC memory, previously unavailable on Intel’s Alder Lake-S desktop processors. This addition makes the W680 chipset an intriguing option for users who require error-correcting memory for mission-critical workloads.
The W680 and Z690 chipsets have a lot in common in terms of technical specifications, including USB, PCIe, storage support, and package size. The W680 is Intel’s latest desktop workstation chipset, and it stands out from its predecessors, the W580 and W480, because it offers official support for overclocking. This means that users can unlock the core frequency when combined with K-series processors and overclock the memory on supported processors. While this feature is exciting, it’s unlikely that users would want to significantly overclock a powerful and heat-generating Alder Lake processor, especially on a motherboard with a less robust power delivery system like those found in Z690 motherboards.
According to three leading motherboard manufacturers, Intel is preparing to stop producing the 600-series PCH, which includes the Z690 and B660 chipsets. While there has been no official confirmation from Intel, the vendors have planned to make their last purchases by March 2023. Some DDR4 models within the Z690 and B660 families may still be available for purchase due to their high demand. However, the newer Z790 and B760 families will replace DDR5 motherboards.
Intel will continue to ship the 600-series PCH to system integrators for use in pre-built PCs, even after motherboard vendors discontinue them. We expect Intel to announce the discontinuation of the 600-series PCH soon.
The W680 series from ASRock Industrial provides greater support for PCIe 4.0 and storage, and all options in this series support ECC DDR4-3200 memory. The number of PCIe 4.0 slots available depends on the form factor, with ITX models offering only one full-length slot, while the IMB-X1314 and IMB-X1712 have two full-length slots.
Moreover, the ITX models are equipped with dual 2.5 GbE, while the larger models come with three 2.5 GbE controllers, all powered by Intel I225-LM controllers. The IMB-X1712 stands out with its inclusion of two PCI slots for legacy devices.