GIGABYTE is a big fan of giving its customers choice on the motherboard front, which sometimes involves releases that support brand-new architectures on older hardware, or hardware you might not even expect. This past spring, for example, the company released EFI updates to allow its FM2+ boards to run AMD's Godavari chips, and it did the same thing for Intel's Broadwell-based chips.
Now, the company is releasing a full series of motherboards that targets a different niche: workstation. Its X170 and X150 series of motherboards are based on Intel's C236 and C232 chipsets and are designed for use with Intel's Xeon processors. These are typically used in servers and workstations and carry a perk important to those serious about their work: support for ECC (error correction) memory.
Interestingly, not all of the five new boards support ECC, so if that particular perk is important to you, you will want to make sure the board you pick up has "ECC" right in the name; these include the X170-EXTREME ECC, and also the X150-PRO ECC.
Before you run out and pick up a Xeon-equivalent of a Core i chip, it's important to be aware that these new boards are designed specifically for the v5 E3-1200 Xeon series, which are based on the latest Skylake microarchitecture. If you have no interest in Xeons but wind up with one of these boards, you can use a Core i3, Pentium, or Celeron chip in its place (we're unsure why it wouldn't allow anything beyond i3).
If you want the most feature-rich of these boards, you'll want to pay attention to the X170-EXTREME ECC, which is the only one of these five boards with the C236 chipset. The other four utilize the C232. Notable gains that come to the C236 chipset include 3x display support (0x on C232), 20x PCIe lanes (versus 8x), up to 10 USB 3.0 ports (versus 6), and a huge one for those interested in virtualization: VT-d support.
GIGABYTE hasn't said when these boards would become available, but we'd have to imagine it won't take long for them to hit e-tail. As of the time of writing, we were unable to find any of the boards in stock at popular etailers.