Intel introduced their new Z77 "Panther Point" chipset earlier this month in advance of the Ivy Bridge processor launch. Questions have begun to pour in how the line-up of Z77 motherboards are working under Linux. Are there any Linux compatibility problems? Here is my brief statement on the matter for now after having already used two Z77 motherboards for a while under Linux.
The new 7-Series "Panther Point" chipsets succeed the 6-Series "Cougar Point" that was introduced with Sandy Bridge last year. Sandy Bridge CPUs are compatible with the 7-Series chipset and Ivy Bridge processors can be used on the older 6-Series motherboards. Panther Point is an evolution of Cougar Point while introducing PCI Express 3.0 support (first introduced on the X79 motherboards), support for Thunderbolt (when the motherboard integrates a proper controller), and USB 3.0 is now integrated into the chipset.
The chipset has also been bumped to handle DDR3 system memory up to 1600MHz speeds natively with an appropriate processor. Additionally, the Z77 motherboards can handle up to three independent displays when used with an Ivy Bridge processor, which is a feature already implemented under Linux. The Z77 chipset can provide up to 14 USB 3.0 ports, Intel Gigabit LAN, Intel ME 8.x Firmware and BIOS support, Intel HD audio, eight PCI Express 2.0, and six Serial ATA ports with various Intel technologies (Rapid Storage, Smart Response, Rapid Start, Smart Connect, and Extreme Tuning). The max TDP for this chipset is 6.7 Watts.
Proper Linux benchmarks of the first-run Z77 motherboards are forthcoming on Phoronix, but this article is just to report on the initial Linux compatibility support state, since reader questions have been quickly coming up. Simply put, the Z77 motherboards should work fine with either Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge CPUs. The Z77 motherboards I have been running so far this month have been the Intel DZ77GA-70K and ECS Golden Board Z77H2-A2X.