Intel Z68 Sandy Bridge versus Z77 Ivy Bridge chipset comparison

Z68 Sandy Bridge, 1Q11
X79 Sandy Bridge-E, 4Q11 (costly CPUs for enthusiasts)
Z77 Ivy Bridge, 2Q12

Two of the better very recent articles on the new Z77 Ivy Bridge chipset:
Intel’s Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge Benchmarks Leaked
Intel’s Next Processors Detail Leak: Ivy Bridge Benchmarks, Specs, and Release Date

Here’s the net of the differences, of course, this is just my personal opinion, based on preliminary, public information. I have somewhat unique requirements, with a focus on efficiency and virtualization features for affordable lab use. I admittedly am ignoring the Xeon family of server class CPUs at the moment, which are generally more expensive, but are also more likely have more DIMM and CPU sockets for more expandability, and be more appropriate for production workload.

Z68 versus Z77:

The good:

  • Core i7 2600 on Z68 versus equivalent Core i7 3770 on Z77 gives roughly a 15% boost in performance
  • Drop from 95 watts to 77 watts is a nice, appreciated move in the right direction, especially always-on systems, like home servers
  • Building in the USB 3.0 chipset, a good thing, finally, standardized performance expectations and drivers (I’ve found ASMedia always outperform NEC, for example)

The bad:

  • Much like the Z68 Intel SATA ports can’t be set to passthrough to VMs on the Z68, it’s seems quite possible that Ivy Bridge also won’t allow passthrough of just some USB 3.0 ports to work
  • Performance boost of ~15% is not enough to make me regret going with Sandy Bridge (Z68) chipsets and the 2600k/2600 for 2 of my system upgrades earlier this year:  gZilla for gaming, vZilla for virtualization/backup system
  • Despite some X79 boards having 8 DIMMs, Ivy Bridge might only have 4 DIMM slots, seemingly confirmed here
  • It’s not out until 2Q2012

*There’s a great summary regarding 1155/2011 CPU sockets and compatibility here, which appears to be accurate

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  • Bryce

    I’m looking to replicate your ASRock Z68 build on Z77.  However, according the manual the ASRock Z77 Professional board no longer includes the option to enable VT-d in the Advanced North Bridge Sections.  Other than the upgraded Intel chip set its very similar to your Z68 board, which means it offers good Ethernet and SATA compatibly with ESXi 5.  I have an inquiry out to ASRock to see if the feature is truly gone.

    • fkhsr

      Thanks so much for the testing, I’m kind of in the same situation as Bryce (looking to replicate your setup on Z77, for gaming and other stuff) ; i have been searching quite a while to find out that manufacturers don’t communicate that much about it..

      So I decided to send a mail to ASRock (asking about status for the support of VT-d on Z77 MBs) and here’s (a snippet of) there answer :

      Dear customer,
      [...already known stuff preceeding...]
       Last but not least it is maybe best to also ask Intel if the Z77 chipset does support VT-D. I found that the Z77 Extreme6, Z77 Extreme4 and Z77 Pro4 all have an option in the BIOS for Intel virtualization Technology (VMM) based on the Vanderpool protocol.
      Last but not least it is maybe best to also ask Intel if the Z77 chipset does support VT-D.
       I found that the Z77 Extreme6, Z77 Extreme4 and Z77 Pro4 all have an option in the BIOS for Intel virtualization Technology (VMM) based on the Vanderpool protocol.
      Please give me some feedback, and let me know if I can be of assistance
      Kind regards/ mit freundlichen Gruessen,ASRock Support”So maybe if we all spam Intel about this they will do something (kiding.. or not) ?I really wouldn’t like to be forced to buy currentgen-1 MB just because of this..What do you think about this guys ? And here a screenshot of the asrock z77 extreme6 UEFI :

      • Bryce

        Intel is supporting VT-d on their flagship Z77 board, the DZ77GA-70K.  If you have an open line of communication with ASRock refer them to this link.

        • tinkererguy

          Excellent, thank you for the info, I will pass it along!  Time to create a whole new blog post about VT-d on Z77, as your spreadsheet seems to be the best source of research out there. Time will tell which implementations actually turn out to work, that’s always been another sticking point.  It’ll be interesting to hear how it goes!

        • fkhsr

          Sorry for the delay, I’ve just passed this info onto asrock support in Netherlands (maybe tinkererguy passed it onto ASRock US and they may not have shared the info).

          Anyway I’l keep an eye on the web to find new info (especially at ;) ) and keep you informed if I find some info I think is relevant to us.

          Anyway one thing is sure : I’ll be ready to build my rig on july this year ; hopefully more info is available till then.


          • First Last

            I got the same information from ASRock tech support as Bryce regarding the Z77 Professional board supporting VT-d.  Based on the email chain I had with them, it appears ASRock U.S. passed the question on to ASRock Taiwan, which responded with the following:
            Dear Xxxxx,Thanks for your reply. There is an option of “Vt-d” in Z77 Professional BIOS.Z77 Professional user manual don’t mention the option, we are modifying the user manual. If any question, please kindly contact us.Thanks for your e-mail. Have a nice dayASRock TSD

  • tinkererguy

    Bryce, I cannot thank you enough for this information.
    Curious, did you find any brand of Z77 motherboard that states VT-d capability in the manual or specifications pages?

  • MalcolmT

    Here’s an update from the Asrock TSD that may interest you or confuse you.  It relates to the Asrock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional.

    “Z77 Professional can support Vt-d function.” and “All the Z77 chipset supprot VT-d function”

    • tinkererguy

      Thank you! (@ a VMUG today)

  • Bryce

    I’ve finally gotten a ASRock rep to confirm support.  The Z77 Professional Manual will be updated to include VT-d Support.