The first motherboards with Ivy Bridge-compatible Panther Point chipsets have been detailed by AnandTech and The Tech Report. The sites looked at motherboards from ASRock, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ECR, and Biostar. Although perhaps not quite as interesting as the new Ivy Bridge processors themselves, there are still some big improvements over the Sandy Bridge chipsets to note.
Intel's new architecture finally includes native USB 3.0 — a long time coming — although the chipset itself will only provide two ports. Manufacturers will be able to add more, just as they have done for Sandy Bridge motherboards, but for low-end models the integrated support should help keep costs down. PCI Express (PCIe) has also seen a revamp, with all 16 lanes from the CPU now fully compliant with PCIe 3.0, providing faster speeds and more flexibility for multi-GPU setups.
Memory hasn't been forgotten either — Panther Point brings compatibility with DDR3L, a low-voltage version of the DDR3 standard, and Intel has also made significant improvements to the way memory is managed in general. The chipset will be able to handle DDR3-2800 memory with ease, and AnandTech notes that the new architecture will have great benefits for those of you that rely on integrated graphics.
Finally, Panther Point is backwards-compatible with Sandy Bridge processors, meaning that users with older processors can simply upgrade their motherboards to benefit from the enhancements above. Similarly, many older motherboards will be compatible with the upcoming Ivy Bridge processors via a BIOS update. So what about the processors? AnandTech reveals in its preview that Intel will finally release its Ivy Bridge CPUs in three weeks' time, so why not set aside a moment to read up on the best motherboard for them?