With the introduction of Intel’s 8th generation Core processor line (Coffee Lake), Intel also announced a new motherboard chipset, Z370. The real surprise, however, came when it was revealed that Coffee Lake would not be compatible with Z270 motherboards even though they use the same LGA 1151 socket. Some people assumed it was an arbitrary restriction, but it might have to do with Intel planning to release 8-core Coffee Lake chips sometime down the line.
Andrew Wu, product manager for Republic of Gamers (ROG) motherboards at Asus, spoke with Bit-Tech about the new CPUs and what is going on with backwards compatibility. When asked to shed some light on the technical details preventing Coffee Lake processors from working in Z270 motherboards, Wu responded that it was “Intel’s decision,” suggesting that compatibility could exist if Intel allowed it.
Bit-Tech prodded further, asking Wu if it was a physical limitation, as Intel claims the restriction has to do with power delivery.
“Not really. It [the power delivery] makes a little bit of difference, but not much,” Wu said. He added that it would be possible to support the current crop of Coffee Lake processors in a Z270 motherboard with “an upgrade form the ME [Management Engine] and a BIOS update,” except that “Intel somehow has locked the compatibility.”
Now here’s where things get interesting. For Coffee Lake, Intel added more pins to provide more power to the new CPUs. While Wu believes that current 6-core Coffee Lake processors could work in Z270 motherboards if Intel allowed it, he concedes “It’s possible that these are in preparation for the high-core count processors.”