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LGA 1366: ASRock X58 Extreme6

USB 3.0 To The Front Panel: ASRock Leads The Way

What does it take to make an X58 motherboard extreme? How about support for three-way SLI, in addition to three SATA 6Gb/s and three USB 3.0 controllers?

ASRock takes advantage of the X58’s 36 PCI-Express 2.0 lanes to connect all of those slots and controllers, with automatic switching changing x16 slot modes from x16/x16 to x16/x8/x8. The X58’s four remaining high-bandwidth lanes still come up shy of the six needed for all of its SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 controllers, but ASRock doubles the available lanes through the use of a PLX PEX8608 bridge. PCIe x1 slots are directed to the PCIe 1.1 controller on the motherboard’s ICH10R southbridge.

Yes, the PLX bridge’s eight lanes must share only four lanes of chipset bandwidth, but even high-end users rarely push the maximum bandwidth through more than four interface controllers simultaneously. That is to say, most high-end users will still get most of their bandwidth most of the time.

A single 88SE9128 and two 88SE9120 controllers feed the six SATA 6Gb/s ports. Since only the higher-numbered model supports RAID mode, only two ports can be striped or mirrored. Additionally, one of the other ports is shared between internal SATA and eSATA connections, so that only five of the white connectors can be used if rear-panel eSATA is to be retained.

Two NEC D720200F1 controllers add USB 3.0 modes to four of the X58 Extreme6’s rear-panel ports, and a third goes to the 19-pin front-panel connector.

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