Wednesday, July 13th 2011

ASRock Giving PCI-Express 3.0 A Big Push

ASRock today is one of the top-three motherboard vendors in terms of sales volumes, but it must have been a long and tiring journey getting there in the market. One of the design philosophies of ASRock motherboards has been to experiment with unique features, odd chipset-socket combinations, odd and exotic expansion slot selection, and so on. Today, ASRock may not be the only motherboard vendor with products featuring PCI-Express 3.0, but it looks like the company is of the idea to make the new interconnect a major selling point, of the kind USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s became a couple of years ago. The company is planning an entire series of socket LGA1155 motherboards targeting mid-thru-high end price-points, featuring PCI-Express 3.0 graphics slots.

PCI-E 3.0 finds itself in the same spot USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s found themselves when they made an entry into client motherboards. There are close to no products that use it. So while it might look gimmicky, PCI-E 3.0 could add a thin layer of future-proofing to the offer, if you're in the market for a new socket LGA1155 motherboard. ASRock is readying no less than five motherboards, four based on the Z68 Express chipset, and one on the P67 Express (B3). All model names are tagged with "Gen3" to convey that it features PCI-E 3.0. The series includes the Z68 Extreme Extreme7 Gen3 at the very top of the pile, with its swanky-looking heatsinks, followed by the Fatal1ty-branded Z68 Profess1onal Gen3, Z68 Extreme4 Gen3, Z58 Extreme3 Gen3, and the P67 Extreme4 Gen3.

The Z68 Extreme7 Gen3 is filled to the brim with connectivity options. It looks to be featuring a unique PCI-Express arrangement, probably thanks to a new PCI-E bridge chip. A single Gen 3 x16 link comes from the CPU, this link can be set to either run a single x16 slot at x16 Gen 3.0, or a bridge chip that gives out two PCI-Express 2.0 x16 links. The two x16 Gen 2.0 links can then drive up to three slots, either in x16/NC/x16, or x16/x8/x8. The rest of the physical x16 slots are probably x4. This aside, the Extreme7 Gen3 features six USB 3.0 and six SATA 6 Gb/s ports.

The Z68 Fatal1ty Gen3 features three PCI-E x16 slots, of which two are PCI-E 3.0, and the third is PCI-E 2.0. Again a vague electrical configuration is given out that leaves us with a lot to speculate, but the board ends up with support for 3-way SLI and CrossFireX. Most of the unique features of previous ASRock Fatal1ty motherboards such as the Fatal1ty Mouse Port (a pair of low-latency/high-polling USB ports), are available. The Z68 Extreme4 Gen3 trails it with two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (electrical x8/x8); followed by Z68 Extreme3, which has a similar feature-set, except that it features just two each of SATA 6 Gb/s and USB 3.0 ports. Lastly, there's the P67 Extreme4 Gen3, which has an identical number of USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s ports as the Z68 Extreme4 Gen3, but lacks Flexible Display Interface and Smart Response Technology, making it probably the cheapest of the lot.

PCI-Express Gen 3.0 is the latest device interconnect technology, it features 1 GB/s of bandwidth per lane, per direction.Source: TweakTown
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28 Comments on ASRock Giving PCI-Express 3.0 A Big Push

#1
DOM
do we need all that many usb ports ?

i would like more sata
Posted on Reply
#2
(FIH) The Don
ASRock going gigabyte?, whats up with their color scheme, copy
Posted on Reply
#3
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: (FIH) The Don
ASRock going gigabyte?, whats up with their color scheme, copy
Black and red from ASUS ROG, black and gold from Sam Sparro Gigabyte UD7.
Posted on Reply
#4
Pestilence
Look at the Extreme 7.. Looks AWESOME and has the NF200
Posted on Reply
#5
Csokis
Which USB 3.0 chip? Bad Etron or good NEC?! :rolleyes:
Posted on Reply
#6
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: Csokis
Which USB 3.0 chip? Bad Etron or good NEC?! :rolleyes:
The USB 3.0 chip in the picture of the Z68 Extreme7 Gen3 looks smaller than Etron EJ168A, so it could be NEC or ASMedia.
Posted on Reply
#7
cadaveca
My name is Dave
Could be VLI(Via).

EDIT: ASMedia:

Posted on Reply
#8
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
by: DOM
do we need all that many usb ports ?
As 3.0 is backwards compatible it is a bit much with 10 2.0 ports yes.
Posted on Reply
#9
(FIH) The Don
by: Pestilence
Look at the Extreme 7.. Looks AWESOME and has the NF200
wish they would get more into lucid, or develop a newer less hot chip than nf200
Posted on Reply
#10
DeerSteak
Yowza. Isn't ASROCK owned by ASUS in some way (I've long thought that, even if it's not true, but their UEFI implementation is as awesome as ASUS's, which only serves to make me think it more)? That would put them in 2 of the top 3 spots, right?

Also, I'll take all the USB ports I can get as long as they're not on some sort of hidden "hub". I've got a keyboard, mouse, an audio interface, two MIDI interfaces, a laser printer, an internal card reader that requires a motherboard header (taking up 2 ports), and two USB 2.0 ports up front. That's 10 right there. Good thing my board came with 4 USB 3.0 ports as well, or I'd be all out of ports (I guess I could get an "external" hub, but I kind of like it this way).
Posted on Reply
#12
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: (FIH) The Don
wish they would get more into lucid, or develop a newer less hot chip than nf200
Lucid means an additional layer of software, which isn't always reliable. nF200 and PLX chips are abstract.
Posted on Reply
#13
WarraWarra
LMAO PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (electrical x8/x8), how do they expect the video card manufacturers to innovate and produce video cards when they are still stuck with electrical x8/x8.

Come on Asrock / motherboard manufacturers you are not primitive (electrical x8/x8) idiots, please throw the video card manufacturers a freaking bone or something.

Give us a reason to want to buy your products, electrical x16/x16 or 4 slots of x16.
Posted on Reply
#14
TheLostSwede
ASRock is owned by Pegatron which is no longer a part of Asus after a rather unpleasant split between the two companies earlier this year and this is the reason why ASRock now have free reigns to compete with Asus on equal terms.

Edit: Sorry, they split last year, not this year and that was when ASRock started to get aggressive in the higher-end of the motherboard market.

As for the dual x8 slots, go tell Intel, they're the one putting in the limits, not the board makers.
Posted on Reply
#15
DeerSteak
by: TheLostSwede
ASRock is owned by Pegatron which is no longer a part of Asus after a rather unpleasant split between the two companies earlier this year and this is the reason why ASRock now have free reigns to compete with Asus on equal terms.
Well now since I posed the question, I started Googling. The first thing I found was the Wikipedia article about ASRock (which may or may not be up to date, and is fairly short) and it says nothing about this, and actually mentions ASUS as the parent company. But then xbit Labs has a fairly old article that agrees. My guess is that Wikipedia is just behind.
Posted on Reply
#16
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: DeerSteak
Well now since I posed the question, I started Googling. The first thing I found was the Wikipedia article about ASRock (which may or may not be up to date, and is fairly short) and it says nothing about this, and actually mentions ASUS as the parent company. But then xbit Labs has a fairly old article that agrees. My guess is that Wikipedia is just behind.
Wikipedia is a lot behind. TheLostSwede is on ground-zero of the hardware industry.
Posted on Reply
#17
xBruce88x
by: btarunr
Black and red from ASUS ROG, black and gold from Sam Sparro Gigabyte UD7.
actually i think the black in red is just b/c its a Fatal1ty model... all his stuff is black and red.

http://www.fatal1ty.com/products/
Posted on Reply
#18
seronx
by: WarraWarra
LMAO PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (electrical x8/x8), how do they expect the video card manufacturers to innovate and produce video cards when they are still stuck with electrical x8/x8.

Come on Asrock / motherboard manufacturers you are not primitive (electrical x8/x8) idiots, please throw the video card manufacturers a freaking bone or something.

Give us a reason to want to buy your products, electrical x16/x16 or 4 slots of x16.
PCI-Express 3.0 8x is

The speed of
PCI-Express 2.0 @ 16x
and
PCI-Express 1.0 @ 32x
Posted on Reply
#19
Jstn7477
I wonder how many uninformed people will buy this board and expect to get PCIe 3.0 out of the box with a Sandy Bridge CPU. Marketing sells, I guess.
Posted on Reply
#20
Pestilence
by: Jstn7477
I wonder how many uninformed people will buy this board and expect to get PCIe 3.0 out of the box with a Sandy Bridge CPU. Marketing sells, I guess.
A Lot
Posted on Reply
#21
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: xBruce88x
actually i think the black in red is just b/c its a Fatal1ty model... all his stuff is black and red.

http://www.fatal1ty.com/products/
It was red and black, before ASUS inverted the scheme and made it look sexy:





Abit and DFI...those were the days.

by: Jstn7477
I wonder how many uninformed people will buy this board and expect to get PCIe 3.0 out of the box with a Sandy Bridge CPU. Marketing sells, I guess.
Sandy Bridge does feature PCI-E 3.0.
Posted on Reply
#22
Yukikaze
by: btarunr
Sandy Bridge does feature PCI-E 3.0.
Which SB CPU has a PCIe 3.0 controller?
Posted on Reply
#23
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: Yukikaze
Which SB CPU has a PCIe 3.0 controller?
Every. The reason most 1155 boards today lack PCI-E 3.0 is because there were no Gen 3 switching and electrical components in the upstream market. Hence, Intel omitted mention of Gen 3 from SB's specs sheet. Now that they're there, you'll see more Gen 3.0 boards.
Posted on Reply
#24
Yukikaze
by: btarunr
Every. The reason most 1155 boards today lack PCI-E 3.0 is because there were no Gen 3 switching and electrical components in the upstream market. Hence, Intel omitted mention of Gen 3 from SB's specs sheet. Now that they're there, you'll see more Gen 3.0 boards.
Do you have a source for that? In every single place I am finding information about this it states that is not the case. Additionally, the AsRock boards seem to mention a PCIe 2.0 to 3.0 bridging chip.
Posted on Reply
#25
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: Yukikaze
Do you have a source for that? In every single place I am finding information about this it states that is not the case. Additionally, the AsRock boards seem to mention a PCIe 2.0 to 3.0 bridging chip.
No, I don't have a public source for that. ASRock isn't using a bridge chip to do Gen 2.0 to Gen 3.0, no such chip exists. It's the other way round: a bridge chip that takes an x16 3.0 link from the processor to give out two x16 2.0 links.
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