Gigabyte Technology on Thursday unveiled two new mainboards that feature two fully-fledged 10Gb/s Thunderbolt ports that can connect up to twelve Thunderbolt devices and three displays at once, currently a unique capability. The new motherboards are powered by Intel Z77 core-logic and are intended for Core i-series "Ivy Bridge" and "Sandy Bridge" microprocessors in LGA1155 form-factor.
“It is easy to see how our unique dual port Thunderbolt implementation simply offers more. We are the only motherboard vendor currently offering DIY PC builders the absolute maximum in terms of device connectivity,” said Henry Kao, vice president of Gigabyte motherboard business unit.
The two Gigabyte mainboards to feature two Thunderbolt 10Gb/s ports are Z88X-UP5 TH and Z77X-UP4 TH. Both are designed for Intel's performance mainstream Core i chips in LGA1155 packaging and both feature Gigabyte UltraDurable 5 technology for improved stability, reliability and overclockability. The mainboards are equipped with all the necessary connectors and features needed today, including Serial ATA-6Gb/s ports, USB 3.0, 8-channel audio, multiple video outputs, several PCI Express 2.0/3.0 slots for graphics cards and so on. The model Z88Z-UP5 TH also features 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi module.
Gigabyte mainboards with two Thunderbolt ports let users to daisy chain up to twelve devices with TB ports simultaneously at 10Gb/s bi-directional speed per port as well as connect one display with mini-DisplayPort interface to every port. The solution if fully certified, according to the manufacturer, and thus supports 6 daisy-chained peripherals per Thunderbolt port with one display connected to the end of the chain.
Since the Thunderbolt ports on the Gigabyte mainboards are claimed to work independently, it will be possible to connect two high-speed external storage devices to every port without losing bi-directional 10Gb/s speed due to daisy-chain mode, as it happens today. It should be noted though that since TB ports rely on PCI Express 2.0 x4 interconnections on the mainboard, actual speed may depend on the load of PCIe 2.0 bus within the PC.
Gigabyte said it had worked closely with several leading device partners, including Promise Technology, LaCie, BlackMagic, Western Digital, Seagate, Elgato, CalDigit and cable manufacturer Sumitomo to ensure flawless operation of their devices with the Z88X-UP5 TH and Z77X-UP4 TH mainboards.
“Thunderbolt technology represents a leap in performance and simplicity for media creators and entertainment enthusiasts. We are pleased to be working with Gigabyte as they bring the first dual Thunderbolt port motherboard to market. It is a great example of what Thunderbolt makes possible,” said Jason Ziller, Intel’s director of Thunderbolt marketing.