updated 07:15 pm EDT, Tue May 22, 2012
No pricing, availability dates released; expected at Computex
MSI and Asus have announced and detailed their first Thunderbolt-equipped motherboards. The companies have released specifications for their Ivy Bridge boards, both using Apple's Mini DisplayPort implementation of Thunderbolt, rather than Sony's custom Light Peak adaptation. Neither company has announced pricing and availability. Both boards are expected to make their debuts at the Taipei Computex show in two weeks.
The previously tested MSI board, the Z77A-GD80, is using Intel's IZ77 chipset. The motherboard is equipped with USB 3.0, three-way SLI or Crossfire GPU setups, eight SATA ports, and gigabit Ethernet. This MSI board has passed the extreme-environment MIL-STD-810G (Milspec) testing, indicating that it can withstand extremes of temperature, vibration, and humidity similar to US military armaments.
Asus' P8Z77-V Premium also carries the Z77 chipset. In addition to Thunderbolt, the Asus board offers four PCI-e slots, built in 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, and a 32GB on-board SSD that uses Asus' SSD Caching feature to quickly retrieve often used files for maximum speed.
Thunderbolt as a technology is still in its infancy. There is only one Thunderbolt display on the market, manufactured by Apple. Only a handful of drive manufacturers have shipped Thunderbolt storage devices, and promised Thunderbolt adapters to other interfaces are still rare and comparatively expensive.