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Kingston Intros the SSDNow KC1000 Line of M.2 NVMe SSDs

Kingston introduced the SSDNow KC1000 line of PCI-Express SSDs in the M.2-2280 form-factor. The drives feature PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interfaces, and take advantage of the NVMe protocol. They combine MLC NAND flash memory with Phison PS5007-E7 controller, and come in capacities of 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB.

All three variants read at speeds of up to 2,700 MB/s; the 480 GB and 960 GB variants write at speeds of up to 1,600 MB/s, while the 240 GB up to 900 MB/s. 4K random read performance is rated at 290,000 IOPS for the 480 GB and 960 GB variants; and 225,000 IOPS for the 240 GB variant. 4K random writes, on the other hand, are chalked at up to 190,000 IOPS for all variants. Kingston is selling the KC1000 are both standalone M.2 drives, and in combination with a PCIe x4 to M.2 adapter add-on card. The drives are backed by 5-year warranties.

HighPoint Intros SSD7101 Series PCI-Express 3.0 x16 NVMe RAID SSDs

HighPoint, known for its enterprise storage RAID HBAs, has a thriving portfolio of workstation-grade storage solutions, such as Thunderbolt enclosures. The company developed a new line of NVMe RAID solutions beginning with its RocketRAID 3800 PCIe x16 HBA, and now the SSD7101 series PCIe solid-state drives. The drives are built in the full-height PCI-Express add-on card form-factor, with PCI-Express 3.0 x16 host interface. The card combines a number of M.2-2280 SSD subunits wired to an NVMe RAID controller, and either striped in user-transparent RAID 0 for maximum performance, or RAID 1 and RAID 5 modes, for data redundancy. The resulting volume exposed to the OS has full NVMe protocol and TRIM support.

The SSD7101 comes in two variants, the SSD7101A featuring factory-fitted Samsung 960 EVO sub-units, and the faster SSD7101B featuring factory-fitted Samsung 960 PRO series sub-units. The card features four 32 Gb/s M.2 slots, the SSD7101A comes in capacities of 500 GB (2x 250 GB), 1 TB (4x 250 GB), 2 TB (4x 500 GB), and 4 TB (4x 1 TB); while the SSD7101B comes in capacities of 1 TB (4x 250 GB), 2 TB (4x 500 GB), 4 TB (4x 1 TB), and 8 TB (4x 2 TB). The SSD7101A offers sequential transfer rates of up to 13,000 MB/s reads, with up to 7,500 MB/s writes; while the SSD7101B offers up to 13,500 MB/s reads, with up to 8,000 MB/s writes, and 33 percent higher endurance. You can halve the capacity and double the endurance by running the drives in RAID 1 mode. Both drives feature an aluminium fin-channel cooling solution, with heatsinks over each of the four M.2 subunits, and the NVMe RAID controller. The company didn't reveal pricing.

Plextor Announces M8Se Series SSD Availability

Plextor today announced retail availability of its M8Se series of PCI-Express solid-state drives (SSDs). Designed to compete with Samsung 960 EVO series, the drives use Toshiba-made TLC NAND flash memory, mated to a Marvell 88SS1093 controller. Available in M.2-2280 and half-height PCI-Express 3.0 x4 add-on card form-factors, the drives take advantage of PCI-Express gen 3.0 x4 interface, and the NVMe protocol.

The M8Se lineup are available in three distinct variants based on form-factor, M8Se-Y (PCIe add-on card), M8Se-G (M.2-2280 with heatsink), and M8Se-GN (M.2-2280 without heatsink, ideal for notebooks); the three further consist of variants based on capacity - 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB. Performance ratings are the same on all variants - up to 2,450 MB/s sequential reads, up to 1,000 MB/s sequential writes, up to 210,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 175,000 IOPS 4K random writes. The M8Se-Y and M8Se-G series drives feature chunky aluminium heatsinks which make contact with the NAND flash, DRAM, and main controller. Prices start at 83€ for the 128 GB variant, and go all the way up to 494€ for the 1 TB variant.

AMD Ryzen 9 Series "Threadripper" CPU Socket Detailed

AMD Ryzen 9 "Threadripper" series 12-core, 14-core, and 16-core client desktop processors, which will form the company's next-generation high-end desktop (HEDT) lineup, which goes against Intel Core i9 "Skylake-X" series, could come in a brand new socket. This shouldn't come as a surprise because the chips have higher electrical requirements, besides double the I/O of socket AM4 Ryzen processors, such as a 44-lane PCIe gen 3.0 root complex, quad-channel DDR4 memory interface, and more. This socket, according to a "HotHardware" report, is an LGA (land-grid array) with 4,094 pins.

The new LGA-4094 socket, so-called SP3r2, will be slightly scaled up from the SP3 socket AMD has been selling enterprise Opteron-brand multi-socket CPUs on (pictured below). The consumer version of this socket could feature a more user-friendly retention mechanism that shouldn't require a screwdriver to fasten. Motherboards based on this distinctively rectangular socket will feature up to eight DDR4 DIMM slots to hold quad-channel DDR4 memory, and over four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, with support for 3-way and 4-way multi-GPU solutions. The motherboards will also feature copious amounts of onboard devices, M.2 slots, and other storage connectivity. Since "Threadripper" is rumored to be a multi-chip module of two 14 nm "Summit Ridge" dies linked together on-package with with an Infinity Fabric interconnect, only one of the two dies links to the motherboard chipset (AMD X399 chipset), while all the PCIe lanes of the second die (including those which would make up the chipset bus) are freed up.
Source: HotHardware

NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030 Specifications Revealed

Ahead of its launch on 17th May, specifications of NVIDIA's entry-level implementation of the "Pascal" GPU architecture, the GeForce GT 1030, were leaked to the web. This tiny GPU, with a TDP of just 35W, will power entry-level graphics cards of all shapes and sizes, including half-height (low profile) cards with passive cooling. NVIDIA could set the baseline price of the SKU as low as USD $59.99, given that in China, it is expected to start at RMB ¥450.

Based on the GP108 silicon, the GT 1030 will be endowed with 384 CUDA cores across three streaming multiprocessors holding 128 CUDA cores, each. In essence, the GP108 is half the chip the GP107 is, which powers the GTX 1050 Ti. With its three SM units, the GP108 features 24 TMUs, and 16 ROPs. It features a 64-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface, holding 2 GB of memory. The host interface is narrow, too, with the chip featuring a PCI-Express 3.0 x8 bus (cards will fit in x16 slots). The chip will be clocked at 1227 MHz core, 1468 MHz GPU Boost, and 6.00 GHz (GDDR5-effective) memory, working out to a memory bandwidth of 48 GB/s. Below is a quick block diagram we made.

Transcend Announces Four SSD Product Lines Based on 3D NAND

Transcend Memory announced four client SSD product lines based on 3D NAND flash memory. The lineup begins with the new MTS810 and MTS420 lines of mainstream SSDs built in the M.2-2280 and M.2-2242 form-factors, respectively, which take advantage of the SATA 6 Gb/s interface. The MTS810 succeeds the MTS800 series the company launched in 2016. It is based on a newer TLC NAND flash memory, and a more compact SSD controller made by Silicon Motion. The drive puts out up to 560 MB/s of sequential transfer rates. The MTS420 is its miniaturized version in the M.2-2242 form-factor. Both drives will be available only in 128 GB capacities.

Next up, is the SSD230 series. The company already announced this drive back in November 2016. Built in the 7 mm-thick 2.5-inch form-factor, it comes in 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB capacities, and offers sequential transfer rates of up to 560 MB/s reads, with up to 520 MB/s writes. Lastly, Transcend unveiled its latest high-performance M.2-2280 SSD, which takes advantage of the PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface with NVMe 1.2 protocol, the MTE850 series. Available in 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB capacities, the drive belts out sequential transfer rates of up to 2,500 MB/s reads, with up to 1,100 MB/s writes. It features 3D MLC NAND flash memory.

MSI Intros B350 Gaming Plus Motherboard

MSI today introduced the B350 Gaming Plus, a gaming-grade socket AM4 motherboard based on the mid-range AMD B350 chipset. Built in the ATX form-factor, the board is based on the same PCB as the B350 Tomahawk, and draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power connectors, and conditions it for the AM4 SoC with a 6-phase VRM. The AM4 socket is wired to four DDR4 DIMM slots, supporting up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory; and one PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot, with a metal reinforcement brace. The second x16 slot is electrical x4, and wired to the B350 chipset. Two each of PCIe x1 and legacy PCI make for the rest of the expansion area.

Storage connectivity on the MSI B350 Gaming Plus includes four SATA 6 Gb/s ports, and one 32 Gb/s M.2 slot with NVMe booting support. USB connectivity includes eight USB 3.0 ports (six on the rear panel including a type-C port, and two via headers). Display outputs include one each of DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI. The onboard audio solution combines a Realtek ALC892 8-channel HD audio CODEC with ground layer isolation, and audio-grade capacitors. Gigabit Ethernet is handled by a Realtek RTL8111H controller. We expect the board to be priced around the $120 mark.

Kingston Announces the DCP-1000 PCI-Express NVMe SSD

Kingston today announced the DCP-1000 line of high-performance PCI-Express SSDs, targeted at enterprises, particularly at data-centers with high bandwidth demands, the drives come in the half-height add-on card form-factor, and take feature a PCI-Express 3.0 x8 host interface (64 Gbps), and takes advantage of the NVMe protcol. It puts this interface bandwidth to good use, belting out sequential transfer rates in excess of 6,800 MB/s. The drive comes in capacities of 800 GB, 1600 GB, and 3200 GB.

All three models offer sequential read speeds of up to 6,800 MB/s. The 800 GB variant writes at speeds of up to 5,000 MB/s, while the other two models write at up to 6,000 MB/s. The 4K random access performance of the 800 GB variant is 900,000/145,000 IOPS (reads/writes); with the 1600 GB variant belting out 1,100,000/200,000 IOPS, and the 3200 GB variant 1,000,000/180,000 IOPS. The drives come with full-length heatsinks cooling the MLC NAND flash chips and controller; and a bank of capacitors that provide power-outage data-loss mitigation.

Intel Optane DC P4800X with 3D XPoint Offers 21x Endurance Over MLC NAND

Intel is readying a fleet of new SSDs based on its new 3D XPoint non-volatile memory, a technology that Intel hopes will replace NAND flash in the years to come. The company developed this technology in collaboration with Micron Technology, under its IMFlash Technologies banner. The first Intel SSDs with this memory will be sold under the Optane brand. There are several sub-brands targeting the various market segments (client, enterprise, data-center, etc.), and technical slides of the data-center targeted Optane DC P4800X SSD were leaked to the web.

One of the first Optane DC P4800X SSDs comes in a rather measly capacity of 375 GB. The drive is built in the half-height PCI-Express add-on card (AIC) form-factor, with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 host interface. The drive belts out sequential transfer rates of up to 2400 MB/s reads, with up to 2000 MB/s writes, which may not sound like much given that even TLC NAND flash based PCIe 3.0 x4 drives offer higher transfer rates; until you look at three key metrics - latency, random-access performance, and endurance.

SanDisk Announces the SkyHawk Series Enterprise SSDs

SanDisk today announced the SkyHawk and SkyHawk Ultra lines of enterprise SSDs. Built in the 12 mm-thick 2.5-inch form-factor, the drives feature PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface over U.2 or SATA-Express connections. The drives incorporate high-endurance 15 nm MLC NAND flash memory. The SkyHawk series includes 1920 GB and 3840 GB variants, and offer transfer speeds of up to 1500 MB/s reads, with up to 1700 MB/s writes; up to 250,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 47,000 IOPS 4K random writes. Its MTBF is rated at 2 million hours, and it is backed by a 5-year warranty.

The more premium SkyHawk Ultra series comes in 1600 GB and 3200 GB variants, with sequential transfer speeds of up to 1700 MB/s reads, and up to 1200 MB/s writes, up to 250,000 IOPS random reads, with up to 83,000 IOPS random writes. These drives offer nearly triple the durability of the SkyHawk (standard) series, with 1.7 DWPD (vs. 0.6 DWPD of the SkyHawk standard); although their MTBF are rated the same, at 2 million hours, and are backed by the same 5-year product warranties.

SilverStone ECM22 Gives You Two Additional M.2 Slots

SilverStone showed us the ECM22, a neat accessory that provides M.2 slots to machines that lack them. The half-height PCI-Express 3.0 x4 addon card gives you two M.2-22110 (110 mm long) slots with PCI-Express 3.0 x2 wiring. One of the two slots features SATA wiring, which simply relays connection from a SATA port on your motherboard. The card doesn't have any native logic of its own, and as such NVMe booting support will depend on your motherboard BIOS supporting it. It could still come as a boon to setups such as video-editing rigs, in which the creative professional could want as many high-bandwidth storage devices as possible.

ASRock Socket AM4 Motherboard Lineup Detailed

At the 2017 International CES, ASRock showed off some of its first socket AM4 motherboards for AMD Ryzen processors and 7th generation A-Series "Bristol Ridge" APUs. Leading the pack is the X370 Taichi. Built in the ATX form-factor, the board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power connectors. It uses a 16-phase CPU VRM with high-capacity Super Alloy chokes. The AM4 socket is wired to four DDR4 DIMM slots, and two PCI-Expres 3.0 x16 slot (x8/x8 when both are populated). The third x16 slot is electrical x4 and wired to the chipset. Two other x1 slots make for the rest of its expansion area.

Connectivity on the X370 Taichi include two USB 3.1 ports (one type-A and one type-C), ten USB 3.0 ports, 8-channel PureSound 4 onboard audio solution (of the same grade the company is deploying on its high-end Intel Z270 motherboards), gigabit Ethernet with an Intel-made controller, and 802.11ac WLAN. Storage options include one 32 Gb/s M.2 slot, one 16 Gb/s M.2 slot, and eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports. Next up, is the X370 Professional Gaming. This board is practically identical to the X370 Taichi. The two boards share a common PCB, and differ only with the red+black color scheme on the X370 Professional Gaming, as opposed to white+black on the X370 Taichi.

Four GIGABYTE Socket AM4 Motherboards Pictured

GIGABYTE showed off four socket AM4 motherboards, designed for the upcoming AMD Ryzen processors and 7th gen. A-series APUs, at its 2017 CES booth. The lineup begins with the AB350M-D3H, an entry-level micro-ATX board based on the mid-tier B350 chipset; the mid-range AB350-Gaming 3, the mid-high segment AX370-Gaming K5, and the AX370-Gaming 5. The AB350-D3H covers the basics, with a 7-phase VRM, one PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot wired to the AM4 socket, a second x16 slot that's electrical x4 and wired to the B350 chipset, one legacy PCI slot; one 32 Gb/s M.2 slot and six SATA 6 Gb/s ports (from which two are directly wired to the AM4 socket); and connectivity that includes 6-channel HD audio, gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.1 (10 Gb/s) ports, DVI, HDMI 2.0, and DisplayPort.

Moving up the ladder, the AB350-Gaming 3 is a gaming-grade board in the ATX form-factor, featuring a red+black color scheme. The board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power connectors; conditioning it for the CPU with a 7-phase VRM. The APU is wired to four DDR4 DIMM slots, and one PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot. Other expansion slots include two x16 slots that are electrical x4, and two x1 slots. Storage connectivity includes one 32 Gb/s M.2 and six SATA 6 Gb/s ports (from which two are low-latency ports). Display outputs include DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI. USB connectivity includes two USB 3.1 (10 Gb/s) ports, and six USB 3.0 ports. GIGABYTE deployed its gaming-grade AMPUp! onboard audio solution with a 115 dBA SNR CODEC, ground-layer isolation, audio-grade capacitors, a headphones amp, and gold-plated audio jacks. Network is care of an Intel-made gigabit Ethernet controller.

MSI Also Shows Off Flagship X370 XPower Gaming Titanium AM4 Motherboard

A sight for sore eyes at the MSI CES booth was its top-grade socket AM4 motherboard, the X370 XPower Gaming Titanium. This board is positioned in the company's Gaming Enthusiast series, and comes with all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a high-end desktop platform. It is based on AMD's top-dog X370 chipset, and supports AMD Ryzen processors out of the box. Designed for both high-end gaming builds and CPU overclockers, the board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX, 8-pin EPS, and 4-pin ATX connectors, and uses a 10-phase VRM to condition it for the AM4 socket. The board also takes in power from an optional 6-pin PCIe power connector, which can be plugged in to stabilize multi-GPU VGA overclocks.

The star-attraction, however, is the silvery-white PCB, with matching connectors. The AM4 socket is wired to four DDR4 DIMM slots, and two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x8/x8 when both are populated). The board supports NVIDIA SLI-HB and CrossFireX. The third x16 slot is electrical x4, and wired to the X370 chipset. Storage connectivity includes two 32 Gb/s M.2 slots, one 32 Gb/s U.2 port, and six SATA 6 Gb/s ports (from which two are directly wired to the processor). The board also serves up four USB 3.1 ports (including a type-C port), eight USB 3.0 ports, MSI's highest-tier onboard audio solution, and gigabit Ethernet that's sourced from either Intel or Qualcomm Killer.

ASUS Intros Four Z270 STRIX Series Motherboards

The STRIX series of motherboards for ASUS are characterized by their multi-color (RGB) LED flair over practical mid-segment motherboards. These boards come with headers that simplify RGB LED case lighting using the ASUS Aura software. The company is ready with four such boards, the STRIX Z270H-Gaming and STRIX Z270E-Gaming in the ATX form-factor; the STRIX Z270G-Gaming in the micro-ATX form-factor; and the STRIX Z270I-Gaming, in the mini-ITX form-factor. The Z270H-Gaming is the lighter of the two ATX boards in terms of features, although you still get a 6-phase VRM, two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots with SLI support, two M.2 slots, 8-channel gaming-grade audio, and two USB 3.1 ports. The PCH heatsink has a groovy RGB LED ornament. The Z270E-Gaming leads the series, with a 10-phase VRM, 802.11ac WLAN, reinforced PCIe x16 slots, and RGB LED elements located in a large I/O area shroud that extends into the VRM heatsinks.

The Z270G-Gaming is the micro-ATX offering from this lineup. It has more features than the Z270H-Gaming, but fewer slots than the Z270E-Gaming. You get the same 10-phase VRM, and connectivity that includes gaming-grade audio, USB 3.1 ports, two M.2 slots, but no I/O shroud, and the RGB LED element is located in the PCH heatsink. The Z270I-Gaming is brimming with features, including concealed M.2 slot, a reinforced PCIe slot, 8-channel HD audio, 802.11ac WLAN, four SATA 6 Gb/s ports. RGB LED lighting is care of an LED strip located in the reverse side of the PCB, along the right edge of the PCB.
Source: VideoCardz

ASUS ROG Maximus IX Apex Leads the Pack

Here are some of the first pictures of ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) Maximus IX Apex, the company's flagship motherboard based on the Intel Z270 Express chipset. The board has many first-in-segment features. To begin with, it features a non-rectangular PCB, which probably lets you quickly pull the board out of bench-tables. Designed for extreme overclocking, the Maximus IX Apex draws power from a 24-pin ATX, two 8-pin EPS, and one 4-pin Molex. The CPU is wired to three memory slots, two of these are DDR4, and make up the dual-channel DDR4 interface. The third slot is DDR3, and can be enabled at the flick of a switch, for troubleshooting the DDR4 memory OC.

The Maximus IX Apex features four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, from which two are wired to the CPU (topmost slot and third slot), and run at x8/x8 when both are populated. The second and fourth x16 slots are electrical x4 and wired to the Z270 PCH. Although not visible, it's likely that this board features one or two M.2 slots, at the reverse side of the PCB. 8-channel HD audio, Intel gigabit Ethernet, four USB 3.1 ports (including type-C), and display outputs that include DisplayPort and HDMI, make for the rest of the connectivity. The board appears to feature a great deal of onboard OC buttons and switches. ASUS will reveal these features when it launches the motherboard a little later this month.
Source: VideoCardz

ASUS Prime B250M-Plus Pictured, Too

The third Prime B250 series motherboard by ASUS is the B250M-Plus. This micro-ATX motherboard offers most of the features its bigger siblings ship with. The board features the same 7-phase VRM as the other boards. Expansion slots include one each of PCI-Express 3.0 x16, PCIe x1, and legacy PCI. Storage connectivity includes one 32 Gb/s M.2 slot, and six SATA 6 Gb/s ports. The board offers 8-channel HD audio (compared to 6-channel on the larger boards), gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 ports, and display outputs that include HDMI, DVI, and D-Sub. Expect a sub-$100 price.

Source: VideoCardz

GIGABYTE AX370-Gaming K3 Socket AM4 Motherboard PCB Pictured

The picture of a bare PCB of an upcoming GIGABYTE AX370-Gaming series socket AM4 motherboard is doing rounds on the web. The picture reveals the bare PCB of the motherboard with all its traces and printed markings, but at a stage before surface-mount components can be soldered onto it. One can still make out quite a bit about the board. AMD X370 is the company's upcoming high-end desktop chipset, which will be launched alongside the company's Ryzen 8-core processor, some time in February, 2017.

To begin with, the AX370-Gaming K3 is built in the ATX form-factor. Its AM4 socket supports both Ryzen "Summit Ridge" CPUs and 7th generation A-series "Bristol Ridge" APUs. The board draws power from 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power connectors, and conditions it for the CPU with a 7-phase VRM. The AM4 socket is wired to four DDR4 DIMM slots. Expansion slots include one PCI-Express 3.0 x16, a second gen 3.0 x16 slot that's electrical x4, and three other gen 3.0 x1 slots. Storage connectivity appears to include at least eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports, and one 32 Gb/s M.2 slot. 8-channel HD audio, gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.1 (including type-C) ports, appear to make for the rest of the connectivity. GIGABYTE's signature Dual-UEFI is featured.
Many Thanks to TheLostSwede and Tomas H. for the tips!

PNY Announces the CS2030 Series M.2 NVMe SSD

PNY announced the CS2030 line of high-performance SSDs in the M.2-2280 form-factor. The drives take advantage of PCI-Express 3.0 x4 (32 Gb/s M.2 slots), and the NVMe protocol, and are available in two capacities - 240 GB and 480 GB. Combining a Phison PS5007 controller with MLC NAND flash memory, the drives offer sequential transfer-rates of up to 2,750 MB/s reads, with up to 1,500 MB/s sequential writes. 4K random access performance is rated by the manufacturer at up to 210,000 IOPS reads, and up to 215,000 IOPS writes. Backed by 3-year warranties, the 240 GB variant is priced at US $179.99, and the 480 GB variant at $329.99.

ASRock Z270 Extreme4 Motherboard Pictured

Here are some of the first pictures of ASRock Z270 Extreme4, the company's mid-range socket LGA1151 motherboard based on Intel's upcoming Z270 Express chipset, with out of the box support for 7th generation Core "Kaby Lake" processors, and support for Intel Optane 3D X-point solid-state storage. Built in the ATX form-factor, the Z270 Extreme4 draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors, and conditions it for the CPU with a 12-phase VRM.

The CPU socket is wired to four DDR4 DIMM slots, supporting up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory; and two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (electrical x8/x8 when both are populated). The third PCIe 3.0 x16 slot is electrical x4 and wired to the PCH. Three open-ended PCIe 3.0 x1 slots make for the rest of the expansion area. Storage connectivity includes eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports, and two 32 Gb/s M.2 slots. Display connectivity includes one each of D-Sub, DVI, and HDMI. You get a total of eight USB 3.0 ports (four on the rear panel four by headers), and two USB 3.1 ports (one each of type-A and type-C, both on the rear panel). Eight channel HD audio and gigabit Ethernet make for the rest of the connectivity.

Source: VideoCardz

ASUS Announces the ROG XG Station 2 External Graphics Enclosure

ASUS today announced the Republic of Gamers (ROG) XG Station 2 external graphics enclosure. A successor to the pioneering XG Station by the company, which launched way back in 2007, this box has the connectivity to drive high-end graphics cards, and expand connectivity of your machine. The enclosure features a PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot, and two 6+2 pin PCIe power connectors, with which it can supply the card with up to 500W of power. Its power supply can further provide up to 100W of power to recharge your notebook. The internal power supply meets 80 Plus Gold efficiency rating.

The ROG XG Station 2 connects to your notebook or desktop using Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps). It uses this bandwidth to drive not just the graphics card, but also a gigabit Ethernet controller, and a 4-port USB 3.0 hub. You can supplement the main Thunderbolt connection's bandwidth with an additional USB 3.0 (5 Gbps) connection to your host machine. This isn't necessary, but ASUS claims it will improve performance. The enclosure opens up at a vertical seam like an oyster, letting you easily install your graphics card. The walls of the enclosure are perforated, but a trio of 70 mm fans actively ventilate it. The enclosure also features RGB LED lighting, which can be managed using ASUS Aura software. ASUS plans to sell the ROG XG Station 2 from Q1-2017.

Intel Readies Skylake-X As its Next High-end Desktop Platform

Intel's next high-end desktop (HEDT) platform to succeed the current "Broadwell-E" LGA2011v3 will be the X-series "Basin Falls" platform. This consists of the "Skylake-X" and "Kaby Lake-X" processors, and a chipset derived from Intel's upcoming 200-series. Just as Intel changed sockets for its previous three HEDT platforms (LGA1366 for "Nehalem" and "Westmere/Gulftown," LGA2011 for "Sandy Bridge-E" and "Ivy Bridge-E," and LGA2011v3 for "Haswell-E" and "Broadwell-E,") the company will launch a new socket, the LGA2066.

As with its HEDT predecessors, "Skylake-X" and "Kaby Lake-X" will be multi-core processors devoid of integrated graphics, with double the memory bus width and up to triple the PCIe lane budgets as the desktop ("Skylake-D," eg: Core i7-6700) processors. In an interesting move, Intel will launch both "Skylake-X" and "Kaby Lake-X" in quick succession, with a catch - "Skylake-X" will come in 6-core, 8-core, and 10-core variants; while the "Kaby Lake-X" will initially only be offered in quad-core. The "Kaby Lake-X" chip will further only feature a dual-channel memory bus, and the LGA2066 motherboard will have half its DDR4 DIMM slots disabled, besides a few PCIe lanes.

Samsung Readies SSD 960 EVO Based on New "Polaris" Controller

Samsung is giving finishing touches to a new line of PCI-Express solid-state drives (SSDs) that offer performance that matches or beats the current SSD 950 Pro series, at lower price-points, the 960 EVO. These drives leverage the company's 48-layer 3D-VNAND flash memory, and the new "Polaris" SSD controller by Samsung, to serve up performance that beats the 950 Pro. Samsung could transfer some of the cost-savings in using the inexpensive flash standard to the consumer, highlighted by the company's decision to brand these drives "EVO."

Tom's Hardware discovered that the Samsung PM961 drives are analogous to the 960 EVO, featuring identical components - the "Polaris" controller, and 48-layer TLC 3D-VNAND flash chips . These drives come in capacities of 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB, with sequential transfer rates of up to 3000 MB/s reads, with up to 1150 MB/s writes; up to 360,000 IOPS 4K random-read, and up to 280,000 IOPS 4K random-write. The 960 EVO will ship in M.2 NGFF-2280 and PCIe add-on card form-factors, with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 bus interfaces. The drives will support the NVMe protocol.

Source: Tom's Hardware

ASUS Unveils the X99-E 10G WS Workstation Board

ASUS today unveiled the X99-E 10G WS workstation motherboard. Although based on the X99 Express chipset, this board supports Intel Xeon E5-1600 and E5-2600 (v3 and v4) processors, besides Core i7 "Haswell-E" and "Broadwell-E" processors in the LGA2011v3 package. The board's eight DDR4 DIMM slots support up to 128 GB of quad-channel DDR4 memory. The board is built in the SSI-CEB form-factor (305 mm x 267 mm). The board features seven PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, and uses PLX PEX-8747 x48 bridge chips to provide either two x16 slots with direct wiring to the CPU, or four x16 slots running at full x16 bandwidth, or seven x16 slots in x16/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8 configuration.

Storage connectivity includes one 32 Gb/s U.2 port, a 32 Gb/s M.2 slot, and a total of ten SATA 6 Gb/s ports. The board derives its name from support for 10 Gbps Ethernet, and features a pair of 10 Gbps connections driven by an Intel X550-AT2 controller. Other modern connectivity includes two USB 3.1 ports (of which one is type-C), eight USB 3.0 ports, and 8-channel HD audio with a 115 dBA SNR CODEC. The board draws power from a 24-pin ATX, a 6-pin PCIe, and two 8-pin EPS connectors, and uses an 8-phase VRM to condition power for the CPU. ASUS didn't reveal pricing.

MSI Unveils the X99A-SLI Motherboard

MSI unveiled the X99A-SLI motherboard. This is not to be confused with the X99A-SLI PLUS the company launched in its first wave of socket LGA2011v3 motherboards, in 2015. The new board features a few modern connectivity features, such as 32 Gb/s M.2 slots, a U.2 connector, and USB 3.1 with type-C. The board also comes with support for Core i7 "Broadwell-E" processors, out of the box. Built in the standard ATX form-factor, the board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors, and uses an 8-phase VRM to condition it for the CPU.

Expansion slots include three PCI-Express 3.0 x16, and two PCIe 2.0 x1. Storage connectivity includes one 32 Gb/s M.2 slot, a 32 Gb/s U.2 port, one 10 Gb/s SATA-Express connector, and a total of twelve SATA 6 Gb/s ports. Among the USB connectivity are two 10 Gb/s USB 3.1 ports, from which one is type-C, and eight other USB 3.0 ports (four on the rear panel, four by headers). 8-channel HD audio, and an Intel controller-driven gigabit Ethernet connection make for the rest of it. This could be one of MSI's more affordable socket LGA2011v3 boards.
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