Next week Intel is set to roll out their much-anticipated "Sandy Bridge" CPUs during the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. With these 32nm, LGA-1155 next-generation Intel Core processors will also come the Intel P67 Chipset on a whole selection of new motherboards at launch like the ECS P67H2-A2 and ASRock P67 Pro3. How well though will Intel's newest hardware play with Linux?
We have started receiving some motherboards already using the Intel P67 Chipset, namely the ECS P67H2-A2 and ASRock P67 Pro3. The ECS P67H2-A2 motherboard has dual PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots, DDR3-2133 (when overclocked) memory slots, dual Gigabit LAN, four Serial ATA 3.0 ports with RAID 0/1/5/10, dual eSATA 3.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, and eight-channel HD audio support. The ASRock P67 Pro3 carries a similar set of features to the ECS motherboard too. Full reviews on both these Intel P67 motherboards under Linux will be published on Phoronix at a later date.
Intel is not allowing publications to publish performance figures on Intel's new Core i3/i5/i7 Sandy Bridge CPUs until after their Las Vegas launch, but at Phoronix, we have not even received the processors yet anyways... However, we do know about its Linux support state.
In terms of the Intel P67 motherboards on Linux, they should work relatively fine if using a modern Linux distribution like Fedora 14 or Ubuntu 10.10, both of which are using relatively new Linux kernels. There really should not be any core functionality problems using Linux on these yet-to-be-announced motherboards, but that is not a big surprise since they are not too vastly different from Intel's current high-end chipsets like the Intel X58, P55, and P58. On the motherboard side, the only issues you may experience are with the thermal/voltage/fan sensors not working with LM_Sensors and the kernel drivers at this point, but that is not a big issue to most consumers and the state of the hardware sensor support across most motherboards on Linux is still relatively sad. It is far from being specific to just Intel and their newest chipsets.
In terms of the Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs, they too should work fine with the newer Linux distributions too. You should not encounter any odd problems like those that we had with some processors in the past from AMD and Intel that resulted in kernel panics or other peculiar issues.
But there is also a matter of the Intel Linux graphics support...