Intel's enthusiast oriented X48 chipset has been delayed for quite a while and though launched finally in March, the actual boards have been rather slow to reach retail markets, with availability limited mostly to the top tier manufacturers. Of course, with the incremental difference (FSB support to 1600MHz) between the X38 and the X48, there's no compelling reason to upgrade if you're already using a "3-series" motherboard. For those who can wait, the mainstream equivalent, the 'Eaglelake' P45 boards are slated to be released next month and with existing P35 boards providing good performance for its price, users are likely to view the upcoming boards with more enthusiasm.
So what does the new Intel P45 chipset bring to the table? There hasn't been much of a buzz at the moment, though one can expect this to crescendo once June and Computex comes round. From what we have gathered, some of the more significant updates on the P45 from the P35 include PCI Express 2.0 support while memory support is also bumped up to DDR3-1333 (along with an increase to 8GB maximum memory), though DDR2-800 variants are still supported. As you can see, this does seem very similar to the already released X48 chipset, with the exception of FSB support, which remains at 1333MHz for the P45 (likely as a way of distinguishing the high-end from the mainstream.) However, the P45 also uses the newer ICH10/10R Southbridge, which is not standard issue on the X48. More importantly for some users, CrossFireX (up to 8x lanes for each PCIe graphics slot) is found on this new mainstream chipset, which could give a boost to ATI.
Obviously, top tier manufacturers have already had their hands on these boards for a while now and we have already previewed some models from MSI recently. Next up is ASUS' P5Q3 Deluxe, which has sent us an early sample for review. Note that we were only given a demo unit without the usual accessories that will be in the retail version. Also, while we used the latest BIOS (0129) from ASUS, the final version found in stores will likely be newer.