Codename Thunderbolt coming to Asus R.O.G. series

It’s not a plane and it’s not related to 007

WE’VE GIVEN YOU the details of Asus’ next generation R.O.G. board, the Maximus IV Extreme, but the company has decided to extend the R.O.G. series beyond motherboards and graphics cards. Currently Asus is working on Codename Thunderbolt, a project that combines two unlikely products into one.

Project Thunderbolt is meant to be for serious gamers and it combines an NPU – or Network Processing Unit as the company behind it likes to call it – and a headset amplifier. Confused? Well, so were we at first, well, we’re actually still confused as to who would buy this kind of a product. Still, if all goes to plan we’re going to be seeing something of a unique product from Asus in the near future.

The company behind the so called NPU is Bigfoot Networks, the company behind the Killer NIC, a product that never really took off, yet have some raving testimonials by professional gamers from around the world. We just have a hard time justifying the $100 or so cost for a network card, although you can pick one up for about $85 these days. Bigfoot Networks recently started working with several partners and it seems like a window of opportunity for Asus.

To stand out from the very small crowd of Killer NIC competitors, Asus has decided to make its own custom solution which will include onboard sound with a dedicated headset amp. Asus has discovered that “Hardcore players get into the gaming audio with headsets [sic]” or simply put, people that are serious about playing games don’t use speakers. As such they figured a built-in headphone amp is the ideal way to add something new to the market.

That’s about all the details we have on Codename Thunderbolt, although it’s also clear that the audio part will have its own sound chip, it’s not clear who this solution will come from. Asus has licensed software X-Fi technology from Creative in the past and it’s possible that we’ll see a hardware solution this time around, but then again, Asus might use its own audio solution to be found on its soundcards.

Despite having some merits as a unique product offer in the market once it launches, we can’t see this as a product that will sell in large quantities. At least the good news is that it’s an optional upgrade and not a $100+ price premium added to the cost of the already expensive R.O.G. series motherboard.S|A

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