Asus Unveils Thunderbolt Add-In Upgrade Card

Asus is demonstrating at Computex 2012 the first add-in card to extend its motherboards with Thunderbolt support. Available in July for about $200, the ThunderboltEX PCIe card is connected to a graphics card or onboard graphics via DisplayPort. The loop-through enables users to combine Thunderbolt with a powerful graphics card. According to Asus, the Thunderbolt card also functions without the DP port connection; however, in this case, it will only be able to support regular data transfers to other Thunderbolt devices, but will not support a Thunderbolt display.

Depending on model, either the Thunderbolt EX and Thunderbolt EX/Dual, the add-in cards feature one or two Thunderbolt ports, one or two DisplayPort in connectors (so you can input a video signal and output to a Thunderbolt monitor), 10 Gb/s max bandwidth total, and up to 6 devices in a daisy-chain.


Only ten Asus motherboards currently support the add-in card. A requirement for the card is a TB_Header port which is only available on Ivy Bridge boards with H77 and Z77 chipsets. The supported boards are the P8Z77-V Deluxe, P8Z77-V, P8Z77-V LE, P8H77-V, Sabertooth Z77, P8Z77-V Pro, P8Z77-V LE Plus, P8-Z77-V LK, P8H77-M Pro and Maximus V Gene.

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  • Seriously? The card is as expensive as the P877V-Deluxe I bought. Waaaaay too expensive!
  • ubercake
    Can anyone please give me a practical current day application of Thunderbolt technology that does not involve simply connecting a monitor to your PC with by way of this new-fangled connection? Hardly any mainstream monitors have a display port connection but we see them on video cards and now we're talking about hooking monitors up via thunderbolt. Well, if my video card only processes so quickly the slot it is in has so many lanes and the bus it's on only supports a certain bandwidth, how does a cable from my PC to my monitor make anything faster?

    Seems like it would be a good USB replacement allowing disks to not even have to be housed within the case any longer? Will there be external video cards or something that will be faster than internal cards using this connection? Will they be faster than the next iteration of PCIe (4.0?)? Will Thunderbolt replace current internal busses? Why do I need a loop through to use a powerful graphics card?

    If a Thunderbolt card runs on a PCIe slot, doesn't that mean PCIe speeds are still faster?

    I guess I'm still trying to grasp the importance of Thunderbolt other than the latest in marketing some product that's been out a while that hardly anyone's wanted to use?

    I hate to sound like an idiot, but can someone please help me out here?
  • bucknutty
    I guess we have to keep moving forward.

    Perhaps in a few years TB will be mainstream and we will have universal TB docking ports with external video cards, and extra storage, for laptops. Thats the only consumer use I can see for this in the near future.