Gigabyte's top of the line socket LGA-1156 motherboard, GA-P55A-UD7 just got a face-lift before release to the market. The GA-P55A-UD7 was pictured in its production form as early as in November, 2009. The retail model has notable changes from the production version. To begin with, GA-P55A series motherboard are characterized with SATA 6 Gb/s and USB 3.0 support. The new GA-P55A-UD7 has four PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots instead of three on the production one. The four slots are connected to an NVIDIA nForce 200 PCI-E bridge chip, which is connected to the processor. The two x16 links from this chip can be split into four x8 links for each slot. A PLX-made bridge chip provides additional PCI-Express 2.0 lanes (probably connected to the P55 PCH), to drive the USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s controllers.
The area south of the CPU socket (typically where you expect a northbridge to be located in older generation motherboards), has the nForce 200 and PLX bridge chips. This is cooled by a fusion heatsink which can be connected to a water-cooling loop. It can also offload heat from the CPU VRM and PCH heatsinks. Of the ten internal SATA ports, six are 3 Gb/s ports provided by the P55 PCH, two 3 Gb/s ports from a Gigabyte GSATA2 controller (which also gives out an IDE connector), and two 6 Gb/s ports from a Marvell-made controller. Other features include two color-coded blue USB 3.0 ports, several USB 2.0 ports, Firewire, two gigabit Ethernet interfaces, and 8-channel HD Audio with optical and coaxial SPDIF outputs.