After over a year of Mac dominance, the first Intel desktop PC motherboard featuring Thunderbolt I/O technology has been – somewhat quietly – announced. Based on the latest Z77 Express chipset, the DZ77RE-75K has been optimized for the new Intel -K Core processors. It features a new GUI BIOS, comes with integrated HD audio and video, and benefits from RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 support.
Thunderbolt I/O technology offers up to 10Gbps bi-directional data transfer rates, and a single connector is capable of daisy-chaining multiple devices. Up until now, devices supporting the technology have been a little on the Apple-heavy side, but with the launch of Intel's DZ77RE-75K mainboard, that situation will likely change rather quickly.
At launch, the ATX-sized (9.6 x 11.6-inch/24.3 x 29.4 cm) board will support the latest Core i7 K, as well as 2nd and 3rd gen Core i3/i5/i7 processors via an LGA1155 socket (Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge). It can accommodate up to 32GB of 240-pin DDR3 system memory over four slots, and makes up to eight USB 3.0 and ten USB 2.0 ports (although some are via internal headers) available.
There are four 6Gbps and four 3Gbps SATA ports and one 6Gbps eSATA, dual Gigabit Ethernet LAN, one external and one header FireWire interface, and two PCI Express 3.0 x16 expansion slots in addition to two PCI Express 2.0/PCI slots. The boxed version of the board will also include an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 2.1 module for wireless connectivity.
Intel's Visual BIOS offers a touch-screen support, a top to bottom graphical interface, and full mouse and keyboard enabled controls for system tweaking such as overclocking of the unlocked -K CPU cores and fine tuning of the graphics and memory speeds.
The new DZ77RE-75K is not the only Thunderbolt-packing desktop PC board available, of course. Both ASUS (P8Z77-V) and MSI (Z77A-GD80) have also recently announced mainboards with built-in Thunderbolt technology, although only the former has been certified by Intel at the time of writing.