Next week is the annual Computex trade show and we have a substantial number of meetings booked, but as part of the regular pre-show ritual, companies are coming at us with the start of their press release mêlée. One of the first to officially release their embargo is ASRock, showing off some impressive equipment ready for media to gawk at when we hit the booth on the show floor.

First up is a tantalising teaser of what is to come. Anyone interested in the PC space is talking about upcoming Broadwell and the iteration after that called Skylake. Skylake for desktops will require a new chipset and new motherboard, which we at least know that Z170 is part of it (H, B and Q series motherboards are likely in the scheme as well). A big part of Computex in recent years has been showing off these designs regardless of the launch window, and ASRock’s PR today mentions two such Z170 motherboards: the Z170 Gaming K6 and the Z170 Extreme7.

The Z170 Gaming K6 throws up some interesting talking points. We have an ASRock gaming logo on the chipset, which is supposed to be akin to a praying mantis and will most likely supplant the Fatal1ty branding on the gaming range. The new socket looks similar to the one used for Z87 and Z97. The PCIe slots are split electrically x16/x8/x4 with an Ultra M.2 in the middle suggesting a PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot. Killer networking returns on this platform, and it would seem that SATA Express is also along this line. In the top left, you’ll notice the DRAM slots are listed as DDR4_A1, DDR4_A2 and so on, with single sided latches supporting the DDR4 modules.

The Z170 Extreme7 images are more exciting, showing off three M.2 slots between the PCIe slots. These are all listed as Ultra M.2, which means PCIe 3.0 x4 bandwidth each for 12 lanes. At this point details of the Z170 platform have not been released, but having access to three M.2 x4 slots either means that some can only be used when integrated graphics is in play, the CPU has more than 16 lanes, or some of these are running off the chipset, none of which can be confirmed. Both the Extreme7 and the Gaming K6 would seem to have Purity Sound 3, the next iteration of the upgraded motherboard audio. This should be the Realtek ALC1150 still, however that is not confirmed as of yet.

Another surprising element to the press release was the announcement that ASRock’s Gaming brand is expanding beyond motherboards. Similar to other gaming brands from motherboard companies, ASRock will also provide mice and mousepads (no mention of keyboards or headsets), but in an interesting twist they will also provide a router. The G10 is meant to be a similarly themed (with the logo and the angled edges) device but offers 4T4R connectivity on 802.11ac. This means up to 1733 Mbps connectivity over a single WiFi application. The only critical point here is that no-one sells a 4T4R WiFi card for a PC – the most we’ve seen so far is 3T3R in commercial applications. It will be interesting to see if that leads down a certain path of better WiFi bandwidth opportunities.

We have plans to meet with ASRock during Computex where we hope to get some hands-on time with this stuff. Release dates and pricing are not being announced as of yet.



View All Comments

  • dragantoe - Friday, May 29, 2015 - link

    considering the small socket, I'm assuming no 6 core cpus? Zen needs to get here quicker Reply
  • Flunk - Friday, May 29, 2015 - link

    Why set your sights so low? I want octo-cores. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, May 29, 2015 - link

    Not until Skylake-E, probably a year later, and probably using an ~2000 pin socket. The mainstream CPUs still top out at 4/8 because mass market software very rarely needs more than that, more cores results in less power/core and slower single threaded performance, and bigger dies are more expensive as well. (Which is also part of why the E CPUs don't have an IGP.) Reply
  • dragantoe - Friday, May 29, 2015 - link

    more cores doesn't necessary result in less single threaded performance, look at any of the intel extreme editions multicores ever... obviously it's more expensive, but there's no way in hell intel couldn't find a profitable way to make 6 core mainstream, they choose not to... Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, May 29, 2015 - link

    At a given power level it does. The 130W extreme CPUs need stronger power delivery hardware and thicker power traces on the mobo. If they ran on the same socket as the mainstream parts, it would require the mainstream boards to be overbuilt so they could run the extreme CPUs driving up costs. Reply
  • Kevin G - Friday, May 29, 2015 - link

    Socket 1150x motherboards are all designed to support a 95W processor. Recent Haswell and the coming Broadwell/Sky Lake chips are using far less than what the socket specs are rated for. This head room could be used to provide a 6 core chip without breaking the 95W barrier. Reply
  • rtho782 - Friday, May 29, 2015 - link

    Drop the IGP, add two cores, you probably get a net saving in die space, power use can't be that far off. Reply
  • Morawka - Friday, May 29, 2015 - link

    man they cant even get a quad core 14nm part out, despite a 1.5 year delay.. What makes you think 6 core is trivial? Reply
  • Laststop311 - Friday, May 29, 2015 - link

    Skylake adds an additional 4 pci-e lanes from the cpu so it now has 20 lanes instead of 16. This would allow the extreme 7 motherboard to have 3x ultra m2 slots using 12 lanes be all populated and still leave 8x lanes for a single gpu which has no impact on gaming performance compared to running at 16 lanes.

    This is really really awesome news. I was hoping that with skylake-e there would be at least 2 ultra m2 slots on the board as I need 1TB of ssd space at the bare minimum but 3 slots would be even better 3x 512GB sm951 ssd's for 1.5TB of super fast storage. With 40 lanes available on skylake-e thats the GPU on full 16x and 12x for ssd's so even the gimped 28 lane cpu on the E platform could do that well.

    Man my skylake-e build is gonna be so epic and such a huge upgrade over my i7-980x.
  • Laststop311 - Friday, May 29, 2015 - link

    And there lots of cool stuff you can do with your build when you don't need any 5.25" drives or any 3.5" drives or even any 2.5" drives. Can pull out a lot of drive sleds and free up a ton of space to do some crazy water cooling with big fat thick radiators. Or you can take it the other way with the extreme platform having mini-itx boards now that use so-dimms to keep quad channel available and make an incredible powerful tiny build where the only hardware inside the case is power supply, fans, wires, and motherboard with storage and gpu and everything else right on mobo. Need very little room to pull that off. Reply

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