Over just the past few weeks, we've seen the arrival of Intel's mainstream Core i5 and i7-800 processors, the first DirectX 11 graphics cards, and Windows 7. What's missing? Why, next-gen I/O connectivity, of course.
We already caught a gander at Asus' 6Gbps Serial ATA-toting P7P55D Premium motherboard in August, but now, the company is cooking up the P7P55D-E Premium—a similar board with both 6Gbps SATA and USB 3.0. Actually, the firm's marketing material claims the P7P55D-E is the first motherboard to truly unite both new technologies.
Much like the P7P55D Premium, this puppy connects the next-gen I/O controllers to an auxiliary PCI Express 2.0 bridge chip. This bridge consolidates half-speed PCIe 2.0 lanes from the P55 chipset into single, full-speed PCIe 2.0 lanes, effectively doubling the bandwidth available to the controller. (Both 6Gbps SATA and USB 3.0 support transfer rates up to 600MB/s, without factoring in overhead.)
Asus is also readying the P6X58D Premium, a board based on the X58 Express chipset that also looks to feature next-gen SATA and USB connectivity. The P6X58D Premium has an LGA1366 socket (for a Core i7-900 processor), three physical PCI Express x16 slots, six DIMM slots, and eight SATA ports. The P7P55D-E Premium only has dual PCIe graphics slots and four DIMM slots, but it can play host to cheaper Core i5 and i7-800 CPUs. See the image gallery below for shots of both motherboards.