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Sapphire prepares to launch Intel motherboards

One-time AMD-only graphics chip outfit Sapphire has announced plans to branch out into high-end Intel motherboards.

The firm's first product will be a fully-featured X58 board, to be known as the Sapphire Pure Black X58, supporting the Intel core i7 series of processors.

The board incorporates features such as on-board USB3.0, SATA III ports in addition to SATA II, six dual channel DDR3 memory slots and 3 Gen2 (x16/x8/x8) and one Gen1 (x4) PCI-Express expansion slots as well as a host of peripheral connections and on-board 8-channel audio.

Sapphire says it is aiming its boards at enthusiasts and the Pure Black X58 has many features to support overclocking. It says the board will feature the same type of solid capacitors and Sapphire's own Diamond Black chokes with coolers that have featured on some of its high-end graphics cards.

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Additional options are provided in the BIOS to help fiddle with the settings. Start, reset and BIOS reset buttons are provided as well as a number of signal and voltage test points on the board in addition to a numeric LED status code indicator. Sapphire is to bundle its own Trixx software overclocking tool with the board.

A second Intel-based board from the Singapore firm will support Intel's new range of Sandy Bridge processors. The Sapphire Pure Black P67 Hydra, shares many of the features of the X58 model, but in addition to the Intel P67 chipset it uses the Lucid Hydra chip to allow a mix of graphics configurations to be used in its PCI-Express slots. Sapphire said it also incorporates "high quality components", extensive I/O and peripheral support and a number of performance tuning features.

Both boards are completed and in production. Pricing and availability will be confirmed at some unspecified later date.