Next-generation Haswell motherboards are approaching, and Gigabyte has teased a few details about what it has in store for the new platform. The firm has posted a series of tightly cropped shots on its Facebook page revealing elements of what appears to be a high-end model. Bling is on the menu for the board, which has gold-adorned audio and display outputs. Most of the port cluster is shrouded in secrecy, but one of the shots reveals dual HDMI ports, one DisplayPort out, a standard array of analog audio jacks, and both coaxial and TOS-Link digital S/PDIF ports.
Fancy audio is apparently a bit of a theme, because there's a Sound Core3D component that looks similar to an audio processor Creative released in 2011. The Creative chip has powered a range of discrete sound cards in the SoundBlaster Recon and Z families, and its packaging looks a little different than what appears in the Gigabyte image. I suspect the board may use a cut-down version of the chip with more limited capabilities than what's available in stand-alone sound cards. That said, even a more limited Creative solution has the potential to offer better audio than typical onboard implementations based on Realtek codecs.
The last two shots focus on the capacitors ringing the CPU socket. There's less to go on here; there are no labels on the capacitors, and the associated lettering on the circuit board isn't turning up anything definitive on Google. No doubt the caps are stuffed with some sort of unobtanium material that promises lower temperatures, smoother power delivery, and higher overclocks. Also, they're black, which nicely matches the circuit board.
The shot above suggests these new capacitors might be part of the next Ultra Durable family, which means they could be available on a range of models that includes mid-range offerings. The Creative audio will probably be restricted to more exotic fare, though. I'm curious to see whether the implementation offers surround-sound virtualization for stereo devices and real-time encoding for multichannel digital output. In addition to sound quality, those features can make an integrated audio solution that rivals discrete sound cards.
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