Officially announced at Computex last week, the ThunderboltEX PCIe expansion card (and its dual port version) brings single port 10Gbps Thunderbolt connectivity to some of the existing ASUS Intel 7-series, and even incoming AMD AM3+ motherboards. It arrived at our labs today so we took a quick look at how it worked.
Based on Intel's DSL3310 Cactus Ridge 2C host controller, the ThunderboltEX card plugs into a PCIe x4 slot and has a cable to interface with the TB_HEADER pinout (board power and BIOS plug-n-pray events) on select ASUS Z77/H77 or upcoming AM3+ motherboards. Another full-sized DisplayPort interconnect cable is provided to (optionally) encapsulate DP signals from the graphics card output with the Thunderbolt data streams.
Upon installation of the card, a new Thunderbolt menu appears in the Maximus V GENE's UEFi BIOS, allowing for adjustments to memory space reservation options which comes into play when resolving daisy chain hot plug detection issues. Intel engineers say a good BIOS should assist Windows 7 with PCIe hot-plug by pre-allocating requited resources at boot stage, or else subsequent hot plugged devices will be unusable and marked with a “yellow bang” error code of 12 (lack of resources) in the Device Manager until next complete re-enumeration (i.e reboot).
We will post usage experiences and performance figures together with our upcoming two-part LN2 review of the Maximus V GENE!