According to internal sources at Intel, the company is readying to move its P55 chipset platform to B3 stepping early next month. Thankfully, the new stepping revision will not require motherboard manufacturers to make any physical hardware changes and will be implemented primarily to support future Core i7 and Core i5 processors on Socket LGA 1156.
Intel has explained that the current B2 stepping and upcoming B3 stepping are completely identical in physical size, fit, electrical, mechanical and thermal specifications. Samples have been available for motherboard manufacturers since October 2nd, and enthusiast consumers can expect initial commercial shipments of B3 revision P55 chipsets beginning on Monday, December 7th.
The B3 stepping itself includes new MM number and S-Spec numbers and will require manufacturers to implement minor firmware and BIOS updates. In particular, they will implement processor MRC and microcode updates in order to enable support for future processors.
As for consumers with the new stepping, Intel recommends a storage driver upgrade from Intel MSM 8.9 to Intel RST 9.5. The company also stressed that both B2 and B3 steppings of the Intel P55 chipset will support 32nm Clarkdale chips.
“Current P55 boards as well as new P55 boards should support Clarkdale,” said said George Alfs, an Intel spokesperson. “As always, end users should check with their board vendor before upgrading.” In other words, those of you with current B2 stepping motherboards will be able to run Core i5 32nm dual-core chips (Clarkdale) with BIOS updates that implement the new processor microcodes.