Ivy Bridge cross platform compatibility is definitely not an easy story to explain. There is certainly more to tell.
We also found out that the Ivy Bridge on Cougar Point (6-series) based platforms will require ME8 firmware. This firmware is clearly more advanced than the British MI-6 but we will leave it at that.
It’s not just the firmware, you will also need a new BIOS that will let Ivy Bridge work in existing boards and the graphics drivers will have to be updated. The reason is simple, as the new CPU brings a new and DirectX 11 compatible graphics core. Ivy Bridge is only supported on consumer 6-series chipsets including H61, H67, P67 and the most recent Z68. Business users with Q65, Q67 and B65 based platforms won’t come with support for Ivy Bridge. You will have to buy new machines to get the benefit, isn’t that smart.
Intel also advizes that ME firmware where the letters stand for Manageability Engine won’t be „field and end-user upgradable“ leaving us to suspect that only the motherboard manufacturers will be able to upgrade the boards to get the necessary firmware for Ivy Bridge support.
This doesn’t not make much sense as we know quite a few people who have flashed all the products they have, but I guess Intel will voice out about the final decision only closer to the launch of Ivy Bridge in march / April of 2012.