Intel said the first Thunderbolt 2 products would be available by the end of the year, and it wasn't lying: Asus just announced the world's first Thunderbolt 2-equipped motherboard, the straightforwardly named Z87-Deluxe/Quad.
Why is that a big deal, you ask? Simple: The first generation of the Thunderbolt interface technology hums along at 10Gbps, more than double the 5Gbps that USB 3.0 is capable of. Thunderbolt 2 screams at a face-melting 20Gbps.
[ InfoWorld has your top picks: the best Windows 8 tablet laptops, convertibles, and Ultrabooks. | For a quick, smart take on the news you'll be talking about, check out InfoWorld Tech Brief -- subscribe today. ]
Intel likes to boast that Thunderbolt 2's firehose of bits and bytes is capable of both displaying a 4K resolution video on a monitor while simultaneously transferring a 4K video file to external storage with nary a hitch, though we've yet to test the claim. (Hey, the first motherboard was only just announced!)
While shipments of Thunderbolt-equipped hardware technically surged over the past year, that's only on a percentage basis; IDC reports that Thunderbolt can only be found on 0.6 percent of all storage devices sold. Intel's tech plays second fiddle to USB 3.0 because those mind-blowing speeds come with an almost mind-blowing sticker price, which has also slowed adoption rates.
In fact, an Intel spokesperson has said that "Thunderbolt is targeted toward premium systems," and the Asus Z87-Deluxe/Quad appears poised to keep the tradition going strong. In addition to the motherboard's pair of bi-directional 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 ports and support for Intel's cutting-edge Haswell chips, here are the rest of the short spec list Asus released:
- 2 x Intel Thunderbolt 2 ports
- 1 x HDMI port
- 4 x DIMM slots
- 3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 slots
- 10 x SATA 6Gbit/s ports
- 8 x USB 3.0 ports with USB 3.0 Boost
- 8 x USB 2.0 ports ATX form factor
Asus even includes a gratis NFC Express dongle with the Z87-Deluxe/Quad for all your one-tap data transferring needs. And by "needs," of course, I mean "wants."
Two glaring omissions leap out from the Asus press release: Pricing and availability. Given that Asus' closest comparable Thunderbolt 1-equipped motherboard will set you back $350, don't expect the world's first Thunderbolt 2 mobo to come cheap.
If spending that kind of cash on a single component gives you chest pains, be patient: A speedier 10Gbps USB 3.1 standard was recently approved, though the first fruits of that labor aren't expected to hit the streets until late 2014.
This story, "Bring on the 20Gbps speeds: Asus announces world's first Thunderbolt 2 motherboard" was originally published by PCWorld.