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‘Leaked’ Intel slide backs rumors of chipset support for Wi-Fi, USB 3.1 Gen2

Why it matters to you

Intel will apparently not only support USB 3.1 Gen2 connectivity within its chipset for motherboards, but Wi-Fi supporting gigabit connectivity as well.

In November of 2016, unnamed sources stemming from motherboard makers and component suppliers claimed that Intel planned to inject USB 3.1 Gen2 and Wi-Fi connectivity into its upcoming eighth-generation “Cannon Lake” 300 Series chipsets. Now a supposed “leaked” slide created by Intel backs those claims, showing what the chipset will support later this year. The authenticity of the slide is questionable given that it doesn’t have any Intel-based info or branding, AS typically seen on official slides.

Here is the info versus the current details regarding Intel’s latest seventh-generation “Kaby Lake” 200 Series chipset:

200 Series PCH-H 300 Series PCH-H
Total number of high-speed I/O ports: Up to 30 with flexibility Up to 30 with flexibility
PCI Express 3.0 lanes: Up to 24 lanes Up to 24 lanes
USB 3.1 Gen1 ports (5Gbps): Up to 10 ports Up to 10 ports total
USB 3.1 Gen2 ports (10Gbps): Up to 6 ports (part of Gen1 total)
SATA 3.0 ports (6Gbps): Up to 6 Up to 6
M.2 SSD ports: Up to three x4 ports Up to three x4 ports
Intel Optane support: Yes Yes
DMI speed: x4 3.0 X4 3.0
Maximum processor PCIe 3.0 configurations: 1×16
1×8 + 2×4
1×8 + 2×4
Integrated Wireless AC support (gigabit Wi-Fi/Bluetooth CNV): Yes

As the supposed leaked slide shows, the only difference between the two chipsets (for now) is that the 300 Series includes USB 3.1 Gen2 technology, Wireless AC, and Bluetooth connectivity. To be clear, the collective that manages the USB standard redefined USB 3.0 when the second generation became final. Thus, USB 3.0 is now USB 3.1 Gen1 with speeds of up to 5Gbps. The new USB 3.1 Gen2 standard, which is usually associated with Type-C physical connections (Type-A is the full-sized rectangular port) and Thunderbolt 3, speeds along at up to 10Gbps.

That said, Intel’s chipsets have supported USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen1 since the standard became golden. And now that USB 3.1 Gen2 is becoming more mainstream, Intel appears to be adding support for that 10Gbps connection as well. The fact that the leaked slide uses USB 3.0 terminology leads to speculation that perhaps it is nothing more than a screenshot of a document table conjured up by theorists using Intel-like colors for an “authentic” feel.

In addition to USB 3.1 Gen2, the slide also suggests gigabit Wi-Fi. If that holds true, this detail could indicate that Intel plans to incorporate a component based on the 802.11ac Wave2 standard, which has a theoretical throughput range of up to 2.34Gbps by incorporating MU-MIMO technology. The Wave1 standard generally used today has a theoretical maximum throughput rate of 1.3Gbps based on SU-MIMO technology. Intel may wait on using the newer 802.11ad specification until the 400 Series chipset hits the market at the end of the year.

802.11ac Wave1 802.11ac Wave2 802.11ac Base Spec
PHY Rate: 1.3Gbps 3.47Gbps 6.9Gbps
MAC Throughput: 867Mbps 2.34Gbps 4.49Gbps
MU-MIMO Support: No Yes Yes
Modulation: 256 QAM 256 QAM 256 QAM
Max spatial streams: 3 3 to 4 8
Max channel width: 80MHz 160MHz 160MHz
5GHz max speed: 1.3Gbps
(433Mbps x3)
(~560Mbps x4)
(~560Mbps x8)
2.4GHz max speed: 433Mbps 433Mbps 433Mbps