USB 3.0 To The Front Panel: ASRock Leads The Way

LGA 1156: ASRock P55 Extreme4

Intel doesn’t support SATA 6Gb/s, but that doesn’t mean ASRock can’t add it. The P55 Extreme4 includes an impressive array of dual SATA 6Gb/s and dual USB 3.0 controllers, in spite of Intel’s unfortunate chipset restrictions.

Those restrictions handicap many of this board’s key features. The LGA 1156 platform gets all of its PCIe 2.0 pathways from the CPU, and there are only sixteen of these, all devoted to two graphics card slots in x16 mode (single card) or x8 mode (two cards).

The P55 Express PCH has eight PCIe pathways that are labeled as version 2.0, but provide only version 1.1 signaling rates. Every x1 device connected to those pathways is thus restricted to 2.5 Gb/s, or half of the PCIe 2.0 specification. That includes two SATA 6Gb/s controllers that connect to the motherboard at a lower data rate than even the chipset’s native SATA 3Gb/s ports.

Other shared items include an eSATA connector that steals its port from internal SATA 6Gb/s, reducing available SATA 6Gb/s ports from four to three. Yet, internal drives should at least be able to communicate with each other at rates higher than that of a single PCIe 1.1 lane, so long as the drives are connected to the same controller.

The rear panel and front panel get separate NEC D720200F1 controllers, each restricted to 2.5 Gb/s bandwidth shared between its two ports as a result of Intel’s chipset design. That’s still far superior to the 0.5 Gb/s bandwidth available through USB 2.0, however.

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    Top Comments
  • takeapieandrun
    New standards = competition = win for us
    14
  • razor512
    Now all they need to do is lead the way with a standardized case connector.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • Anonymous
    Thank you ASRock for bringing USB3.0 front header on your motherboards! Now i can expect a much nicer set-up in my case in an upcoming build...
    8
  • takeapieandrun
    New standards = competition = win for us
    14
  • razor512
    Now all they need to do is lead the way with a standardized case connector.
    10
  • darthvidor
    I sure hope the standard connector comes out before this gets out of hand.
    3
  • 117killer117
    Hopefully some other motherboard manufacturers catch on.
    5
  • Crashman
    razor512Now all they need to do is lead the way with a standardized case connector.
    darthvidorI sure hope the standard connector comes out before this gets out of hand.
    You're looking at it, Page 1 photo. Other motherboard manufacturers are already using this same connector as mentioned in the article, so it should only be a matter of a few months before case manufacturers follow suit.
    5
  • Anonymous
    ASRock responds to pleas? Maybe someone could plead for dual-gigabit-ethernet equipped SOC-chipped (atom? i3?) 6x sata2 motherboards, too. It's impossible to build your one-machine-to-rule them all firewall-server-htpc in a small form factor currently!
    -2
  • liquidsnake718
    Yeah i remember reading reports that Intel dithed USB 3.0 about 6 months ago in favor of the mb and new CPU research (P66, 67). Surprisingly they sold this tech or the design to ASROCK. Im sure they will eventually come around to implimenting this for ALL future motherboards.

    So would old cases be able to use this since it is just a connector?
    0
  • Crashman
    liquidsnake718Yeah i remember reading reports that Intel dithed USB 3.0 about 6 months ago in favor of the mb and new CPU research (P66, 67). Surprisingly they sold this tech or the design to ASROCK. Im sure they will eventually come around to implimenting this for ALL future motherboards. So would old cases be able to use this since it is just a connector?
    Revised cases could use it, if they had the new cable and connector. Remember that USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 are not cross-compatible, they use separate signal pins and share only power and ground with each other.
    0
  • mauller07
    They should have kept the board like the 890gx extreme 3 without all the legacy rubbish like floppy or pata, when looking at the boar layouts in comparison this extreme 4 just looks messy
    1
  • Crashman
    mauller07They should have kept the board like the 890gx extreme 3 without all the legacy rubbish like floppy or pata, when looking at the boar layouts in comparison this extreme 4 just looks messy
    ASRock still markets in places where Windows XP prevails. That means that the floppy header is still more valuable than most of us would like to believe.
    3
  • pinkfloydminnesota
    Thicker color lines in the legend so we can see what color they are, please.
    6
  • Deadstick50
    What I take from this article is the fact that Inhell hobbles all the good features that AMD doesnt! And people wonder why I always recomend AMD? GET REAL.....get AMD for the performance you deserve! (this add brought to you by..........nobody, I just really like AMD)
    5
  • Onus
    While I wouldn't go quite as far as Deadstick50, I did take from this article that P55 is just not the way to go; not if you expect any kind of future-resistance, i.e. to take full advantage of high speed USB 3.0 peripherals.
    1
  • Deadstick50
    Yeah, but look at Intels implementation of PCI-E, its chanelled wrong and limited in scope...i stand by what i said.
    1
  • theoutbound
    If nothing else, I'm glad ASRock did this so other manufacturers will be forced to include front USB3. Manufacturers have been very slow to offer this, and it's nice to see someone begin to step up.
    1
  • Onus
    It's not "Intel," it's the chipset and/or CPU; consider that X58 offers full speed and full functionality. A lesser AMD chipset (like 870) would chop out some lanes and/or features too.
    -1
  • zyzeast
    I got the x58 extreme 6 when it came out on Newegg and loving it so far, just wish it had more on-board USB 2.0 connectors.
    0
  • False_Dmitry_II
    jtt283It's not "Intel," it's the chipset and/or CPU; consider that X58 offers full speed and full functionality. A lesser AMD chipset (like 870) would chop out some lanes and/or features too.


    Yeah, like the second graphics card slot. Wait, that's another 16 lanes that can be used even if some were removed resulting in similar other stuff as the higher mobos. Sorry the fact that intel limited that entire platform to that low is insane and ridiculous.
    0
  • ares1214
    Asrock, you done good. You guys are always make boards with features other people dont have, or more of them. 870 board with 2 x16 lanes, more USB 3 than most, so on and so forth. Good prices too. Now just make sure they are quality.
    3