ASRock Z77 Extreme6/TB4 Motherboard Offers Thunderbolt with Discrete Graphics
Subject: Motherboards | December 11, 2012 - 07:34 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: asrock, thunderbolt, Z77
Over the past 6 months or so we have seen most motherboard vendors release a Z77 option with support for the latest Thunderbolt connectivity option. I did some initial testing on the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium motherboard and found that Thunderbolt was indeed impressive in terms of performance though it remained expensive and had a few hang ups.
One of those was the need to use integrated graphics when utilizing the DisplayPort pass through of the connection. Lucid was the first company to offer a solution thanks to their Virtu MVP software solution and GPU virtualization technology. I tested that and it worked pretty well, allow us to utilize the power of your discrete GPU with a monitor connected through Thunderbolt on the motherboard.
Well ASRock has a new motherboard out, the Z77 Extreme6/TB4, that promises to allow you to use discrete graphics by simply utilizing a DisplayPort connection on the graphics card itself.
Besides offering a pair of Thunderbolt connections, the motherboard claims to be the "world's only Thunderbolt motherboard supporting discrete VGA card via Thunderbolt port."
Essentially ASRock is taking the DP connection from the discrete graphics card, taking it into the motherboard through a DisplayPort input connection and then sending that back out the motherboard Thunderbolt header. More than likely this is simple electrical pass through and there isn't much or any logic going on to "trick" the system. It also raises concerns that the motherboard and display solution won't be officially approved by Intel. (We are all, after all, still waiting to see the ASUS ThunderboltEX to hit the market...)
Hopefully we'll get one of these new boards in soon to see for ourselves!