ASRock has one-upped MSI and pretty much all its rivals by releasing the very first motherboard that supports the PCI-Express 3.0 standard. The board in question is named Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 and it supports Intel Sandy Bridge (LGA1155) processors (Ivy Bridge CPU support is also planned).
The big thing about PCIe 3.0 is that it can provide a bandwidth of 1GB/s per lane, whereas PCI 2.x can only top 500 MB/s. Now, since the PCI-Express 3.0 standard isn’t supported by the Z68 chipset, ASRock had to add a PLX PEX8608 bridge chip and make some tweaks to deliver such an implementation. For official PCIe 3.0 support we’ll have to wait for motherboards based around Intel’s X79 (LGA2011) and 7 Series (LGA1155) chipsets.
Back to the Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 though, this board has two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots and one PCIe 2.0 x16 slot that work together to allow for Quad-SLI or 3-way CrossFireX setups (LucidLogix’s Virtu technology is also supported). Other goodies include 18-phase digital PWM, four DDR3-2133 memory slots, ten SATA 3.0 Gbps ports (we’re guessing the six red ones are SATA 6.0 Gbps while the rest are 3.0 Gbps), and support for the Intel Smart Response technology.
ASRock’s motherboard also features four USB 3.0 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet, an eSATA connector, 7.1 channel audio, a debug LED, a Fatal1ty USB Mouse Port (allows polling rate adjustment from 125 Hz to 1000 Hz), and D-Sub, and dual HDMI (1.4) outputs.
Unfortunately, despite ASRock’s bragging about the Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 going ‘on sale now’, we haven’t found it in stores.