GIGABYTE Lets Slip 11th Gen 'Rocket Lake' CPU Support For Z490
Today Intel finally announced the 10th Generation Core S-Series CPUs for mainstream desktops, and complementing the 'revelation' was a veritable legion of motherboard manufacturers unveiling various flavours of Z490 motherboard. Each were singing from the same hymn sheet, proclaiming support for 10th Gen 'Comet Lake' CPUs up to the 10-core/20-thread flagship and a plethora of chipset features which will largely be identical across virtually every design. One brave Intel partner bucked the trend however, potentially getting themselves into hot water in the process.
During a livestream broadcast on Facebook earlier today GIGABYTE let slip that their Z490 motherboards would support 11th Generation 'Rocket Lake' CPUs, the as-yet unannounced range of CPUs that will succeed 10th Gen 'Comet Lake' on desktop. The host admitted that it wasn't necessarily something they were 'supposed' to say, but nonetheless confirmed it outright. The exchange was caught for posterity by Videocardz.com:
GIGABYTE, ASRock and MSI each published technical details outlining the steps they've taken to support PCIe 4.0 on Z490 including clock generators, PCB layering that improves signal quality, and switches specced for the standard. Some motherboard feature summaries confirmed forward-compatible support for PCIe 4.0 signalling to PCIe x16 and M.2 slots, even though Comet Lake CPUs are believed to be limited to PCIe Gen 3. From that fact alone it could be inferred that the new motherboard series baked in support for a subsequent generation of CPU, but as always it's nice to have confirmation straight from the horse's mouth.
That being said, the reality of PCIe 4.0 support is unlikely to be as simple as that inferred by GIGABYTE et al today. One particularly pertinent question is whether the 400-series PCH and DMI link will support PCIe 4.0 signalling similar to AMD's X570 chipset, or whether it will be restricted to the half-way-house of off-CPU PCIe lanes only. There's also a question of support from other motherboard vendors given the additional manufacturing cost this approach will have incurred (and their silence on the matter). The information divulged does however indicate that there will be welcome stability in Intel's LGA 1200 socket through at least two generations.
If this is an unintentional slip of the tongue then Intel may shoulder just as much of the blame as GIGABYTE. Today's public reveal has been almost farcical, with all involved parties hesitant confirm even fairly elementary queries for fear of falling foul of one or more embargoes for different aspects of the platform. Hopefully this situation is cleared up before the hardware can actually be purchased.
Motherboards based on the Z490 are scheduled for retail availability on May 20th. Performance-class Intel 10th Gen 'Comet Lake' CPUs are likely to join them.