Ivy Bridge is apparently on track for an early Q2 release so it's no surprise that we're starting to see 7-series motherboards at CES. Although Ivy Bridge should be backwards compatible with supported 6-series Sandy Bridge boards, you do get some features from moving to a 7-series board. For starters there's native USB 3.0 (many 6-series boards provided it through a 3rd party controller) as well as guaranteed PCIe 3.0 support on the slots that branch off of the CPU. 

MSI showed us two Z77 boards, the Z77A-GD80 and the Z77-GD65. The GD80 is unique because it will actually ship with Thunderbolt support. The controller hasn't been placed on the board yet, nor has the Thunderbolt port, but the design is nearly complete. MSI doesn't have an estimate on pricing yet but I'm hearing that the Thunderbolt controller should add another $20 - $30 on average to any design.

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  • jwcalla - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    Thunderbolt or 10 GbE would certainly be a welcome step forward, maybe even supplanting some of those 4,000 USB ports and d-sub / ps2 ports that mobo manufacturers are still putting out.
  • MadMan007 - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    D-Sub is entirely a waste of space on modern motherboards if only because analog output should be part of the DVI output. I suppose an HDMI-D-Sub stack makes some sort of sense because it is slightly less wide than a DVI port but still it's pretty inexcusable.

    A single PS/2 combo port (which really means a keyboard port - let's face it no one is using PS/2 mice) at least has some legitimacy and technical advantage (true n-key rollover) for the PS/2 keyboard crowd.

    Can't have too many USB ports though imo. I hate seeing space wasted on half-stacks of USB 3.0 ports when there could easily be two more USB 2.0 ports on there. I used to not have too much use for tons of USB ports then I started getting more than basic I/O peripherals.
  • B3an - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    There is absolutely no need for the super ancient PS/2 connector these days. I'm amazed that new motherboards still come with it. I've not used it for years and this is also the case for many people.

    Agree with your other points though.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    USB keyboards are limited to 6 (7?) simultaneous key presses by the standard keyboard driver. High end PS2 models can go higher, which apparently can matter in some mash on the keyboard type games (presumably not having 8+ keys being pressed simultaneously but by not having minimum keystroke times resulting in a buffer overflowing).

    What I don't get is why none of the premium hardware vendors don't just get together and collectively design/write drivers that support higher numbers of simultaneous key-presses. That would leave only BIOS/OS developers needing PS2 support (PS2 is much less complex to write a driver for than USB).

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