Even though there is still quite some time left until Intel officially releases the X79 chipset for Sandy Bridge-E processors, the first motherboard using this PCH was already spotted at Computex 2011 thanks to Gigabyte, which presented the GA-X79A-UD3.
This is not going to be Gigabyte's most advanced board based on the X79 chipset, but it gives us a pretty good idea on what we can expect from such solutions.
The first thing that one notices when taking a look at the X79A-UD3 is the unusual placement of the four DIMM memory slots, which now sit to the left and to the right of the CPU socket, since the Sandy Bridge-E processors come with an integrated quad-channel memory controller.
Right next to these, Gigabyte has placed the board's expansion slots, which include five PCI Express x16 Gen 3 slots as well as a legacy 32-bit PCI slot.
Only two of the PCI Express slots available work in an x16 mode, as the third has only 8 PCI-E lanes routed to it, while the remaining two are limited at x4 speeds.
The motherboard is however compatible with 3-way Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX graphics card setups.
Storage is provided by no less than 12 SATA ports, eight driven by the X79 PCH and the other four by third-party controllers, and the X79A-UD3 also features two SAS 6Gbps ports placed right near the board's left margin.
Other features include Dolby Home Theater audio, USB 3.0 connectivity, support for the enterprise version of Intel's Rapid Storage Technology (IRST), and a six-phase CPU PWM with DrMOS MOSFET transistors.
Intel's Sandy Bridge-E processors are expected to debut in the forth quarter of 2011 and the initial CPU batch will include three chips, two featuring a six-core design and a quad-core model. The Gigabyte X79A-UD3 is also expected to debut in Q4 2011. (via ComputerBase)