Asus has added two new motherboards to their Z77 lineup that include support for Thunderbolt connectivity, the P8Z77-V Premium and the P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt. The Premium is an entirely new offering that will be the first board certified by Intel to include the technology while the Pro/Thunderbolt adds support to the existing Pro board.
The Premium offering includes four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, support for Ivy Bridge processors, DDR3 memory up to 2800MHz and 20 power phases just for the CPU. Bluetooth 3.0 comes standard and there are six SATA 6Gb/sec ports, two eSATA 6Gb/sec ports, six USB 3.0 headers and two Intel Gigabit Ethernet controllers.
Asus is also throwing in a 32GB mSATA SSD designed to use Intel’s Smart Response caching technology and Rapid Start technology. There is no pricing available for the Premium just yet but we can pretty well assume it won’t be cheap.
"Intel and Asus have worked closely on the implementation of ThunderboltTM technology onto Asus motherboards", said Jason Ziller, Intel's Director of Thunderbolt Marketing. "The P8Z77-V PREMIUM is the first Thunderbolt certified motherboard in the industry, a testament to its solid design and compatibility."
Despite only having a single Thunderbolt connection, this won’t be a problem as the technology allows users to daisy-chain up to six devices through a single connection. The company worked with third party hard drive manufacturers like LaCie and Elgato to ensure Thunderbolt compatibility with Windows. This is certainly a step in the right direction as far as Thunderbolt’s rollout is concerned. Up to this point, the technology hasn’t seen much support outside of select Apple products.