MSI Unveils First AMD AM3+ Motherboard With USB 3.1

Subject: Motherboards | March 25, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, amd, am3+, 10Gbps

Last week, MSI launched a slew of new USB 3.1 equipped motherboards. Today, the company is releasing more details on one of the AMD-based products: the MSI 970A SLI Krait Edition. This upcoming motherboard is geared towards gamers using AMD FX (AM3+) processors and supports multi-GPU setups (both SLI and CrossFire). The 970A SLI Krait Edition has a black and white color scheme with rich expansion options and large aluminum heatsinks over the VRMs and northbridge.

MSI 970A SLI Krait Edition Motherboard.png

The AM3+ processor socket sits to the left of four DDR3 memory slots. Six expansion slots take up the majority of the lower half of the board and include two PCI-E x16, two PCI-E x1, and two PCI slots. Six SATA ports occupy the bottom-right corner with four at 90-degree angles. MSI is using its latest “Military Class 4” capacitors and other hardware along with gold audio traces connecting the rear IO audio jacks to the onboard sound chip.

Speaking of rear IO, you will find the following ports on the 970A SLI Krait Edition.

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.1
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 6 x Analog Audio

The main feature that MSI is pushing with this new board is the addition of two USB 3.1 (Type A) ports to the AMD platform. This is the first AM3+ motherboard to support the faster standard – up to 10 Gbps using an Asmedia ASM1352R controller – while also being backwards compatible with older USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices.

MSI has not yet released pricing or availability, but expect it to launch soon for less than $100.

Josh's Thoughts

Few specifications have been released about this board so far, as well as no timetable for the launch.  It is a finished product and should be out "soon" as Tim mentioned.

There are a few things we can gather from the photo of the board.  The audio solution is not nearly as robust as we saw with the 970 Gaming motherboard.  I doubt it will have the headphone amplification, and the filtering is going to be less due to fewer caps used.  The audio is still physically isolated on the PCB, but it has not received the same focus as what we saw on 970 Gaming.

It looks like it is a full 8+2 power phase implementation, as it is taking up more space on the board than the 6+2 unit on the 970 Gaming did.  This should allow for a greater selection of CPUs to be used, as well as potentially greater overclocking ability.  It does not feature a separate SATA controller, so all 6 SATA ports on the board are handled by the SB950.  There are no external e-SATA ports, which really is not a big deal as those are rarely used.

This looks to be a nice addition to the fading AM3+ market.  For those holding onto their AMD builds and wish to upgrade, this looks to be an inexpensive option with next generation connectivity.  MSI looks to have paid the licensing fee necessary to support SLI, plus they utilize the same AMD 970 chipset on the 970 Gaming that is not supposed to be able to split the 1 x 16X PEG connection to 2 x 8X slots.  Some interesting design and chippery are required to that.

Source: MSI

Beware strange USB drives, they can be killers

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2015 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: usb, flash drive

It is not easy to kill something via USB as the plugs deal with all sorts of devices that are off spec but it can be done.  If you short ground and power the plug disables itself, TVS diodes prevent static electricity from damaging anything and excessive RF is bled off by the inline filtering beads.  That didn't stop this Hack a Day reader from figuring out a way to make a killer USB drive with a inverting DC-DC converter and capacitor bank.  The drive uses the power provided by the USB port to charge the capacitors to -110VDC which then discharges that to the data pins, enough to overcome the protection on the port and it repeats until the USB port is no longer capable of delivering power.  Considering many USB ports are integrated onto your CPU at this point, this is not a very nice thing to do; we present this as a warning and do not recommend this or similar projects be undertaken by our readers.

usb-fryer1.jpg

"[Dark Purple] recently heard a story about how someone stole a flash drive from a passenger on the subway. The thief plugged the flash drive into his computer and discovered that instead of containing any valuable data, it completely fried his computer. The fake flash drive apparently contained circuitry designed to break whatever computer it was plugged into."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

List of Upcoming USB 3.1 Devices Expected by Mid-2015

Subject: Storage | February 24, 2015 - 11:11 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, asus

Followers of PC Perspective have likely seen a pair of stories previewing the upcoming performance and features of USB 3.1. First we got our hands on the MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK motherboard and were able to run through our very first hands-on testing with USB 3.1 hardware. The motherboard had built-in USB 3.1 support and a device that was configured with a RAID-0 of Intel SSD 730 Series drives.

We followed that up with a look at the ASUS USB 3.1 implementation that included a PCIe add-on card and a dual-drive mSATA device also in RAID-0. This configuration was interesting because we can theoretically install this $40 product into any system with a free PCI Express slot.

atto boost-4-.png

Performance was astounding for incredibly early implementations, reaching as high as 835 MB/s!

In that last article I theorized that it would be some time before we got our hands on retail USB 3.1 hardware but it appears I wasn't giving the industry enough credit. ASUS passed us a list of incoming devices along with release schedules. There are 27 devices scheduled to be released before the end of April and ~35 by the middle of the year.

It's a daunting table to look at, so be prepared!

Manufacturer name

Product category

Product name

Availability

AKiTiO

USB 3.1 device

Neutrino Bridge USB3.1

March 2015

USB 3.1 device

NT2 U3.1

March 2015

AVLAB Technology SIIG

USB 3.1 to 2.5-inch

USB 3.1 to SATA 2.5-inch Enclosure

April 2015

USB 3.1 to 2.5-inch

USB 3.1 to SATA 2.5-inch Enclosure Pro

Q2-Q3 2015

USB 3.1 to 3.5-inch

USB 3.1 to SATA 3.5-inch Enclosure

April 2015

GODO

2.5-inch USB 3.1 enclosure

GD25602 2.5-inch USB3.1 HDD Enclosure

March 2015

2.5-inch USB 3.1 enclosure

GD25702 2.5-inch USB3.1 HDD Enclosure

March 2015

2.5-inch USB 3.1 enclosure

GD25611 2.5-inch  USB3.1 HDD Enclosure

March 2015

HighPoint Technologies, Inc

USB 3.1 device

RS3111A

March 2015

USB 3.1 device

RS3112A

April 2015

Iomaster

2-port host card

IOT-U31A3

March 2015

SATA 2.5 enclosure 

IOT-3125A3

March 2015

USB 3.1 to SATA 2.5 & 3.5 adapter

IOT-3123A3

April 2015

USB 3.1 to MSATA & M2 SSD enclosure

IOT-U31NF

March 2015

Minerva Innovation Company

3.5-inch SATA to USB 3.1 enclosure

3.5-inch SATA mSATA x 2 and M.2 x 2 to USB 3.1 Adapter (Type B)

March 2015

2.5-inch SATA to USB 3.1 enclosure

2.5-inch SATA mSATA SSD x 2 to USB 3.1 External Enclosure (Type-C x 2)

March 2015

2.5-inch SATA to USB 3.1 enclosure

2.5-inch SATA M.2 SSD x 2 to USB 3.1 External Enclosure  (Type-C x 2)

April 2015

Speed Dragon

USB 3.1 device

USB 3.1 to SATA 6G cable adapter

March 2015

USB 3.1 device

USB 3.1 PCI-Express add-on card

March 2015

USB 3.1 device

USB 3.1 PCI-Express add-on card

March 2015

USB 3.1 device

USB 3.1 to dual SATA 6G hard drive enclosure

April 2015

Super Talent Technology Corporation

USB 3.1 device

USB3.1 Portable SSD

May 2015

Sunrich Technology

Adapter

U-1040 USB 3.1 to SATA 6G Adapter

March 2015

Adapter

U-1050 USB 3.1 to SATA 6G Adapter

April 2015

Hub

U-1060 USB 3.1 4-Port Hub

TBA

Hub

U-1070 USB 3.1 7-Port Hub

TBA

Docking station

U-1080 USB 3.1 Docking Station

TBA

Docking station

U-1090 USB 3.1 Docking Station

TBA

UNITEK

PCI Express to 2 Ports USB 3.1 (Type-A x 2)

Y-7305

March 2015

PCI Express to 2 Ports USB 3.1 (Type-A x 1, Type-C x 1)

Y-7306

March 2015

USB 3.1 to SATA6G enclosure

Y-3363

April 2015

USB 3.1 to SATA6G Docking station

Y-3605

April 2015

USB 3.1 to 2.5-inch Dual SATA6G enclosure (Type-C)

Y-3364

April 2015

USB 3.1 active extension cable

Y-3001

June 2015

The product categories are mostly dominated by the likes of the a USB 3.1 to 2.5-in adapter; that would be useful but you aren't going to top out the performance of the USB 3.1 with a single 2.5-in SATA device. Iomaster has one listed as a "USB 3.1 to MSATA & M2 SSD enclosure" which could be more interesting - does it accept PCI Express M.2 SSDs?

Minerva Innovation has a couple of interesting options, all listed with pairs of mSATA or M.2 ports, two with Type-C connections. What we don't know based on this data is if it supports PCIe M.2 SSDs or SATA only and if it supports RAID-0.

A couple more list dual SATA ports which might indicate that we are going to see multiple hard drives / SSDs over a single USB 3.1 connection but without RAID support. That could be another way to utilize the bandwidth of USB 3.1 in a similar way to how we planned to use Thunderbolt daisy chaining.

We don't have pricing yet, but I don't think USB 3.1 accessories will be significantly more expensive than what USB 3.0 devices sell for. So, does this list of accessories make you more excited to upgrade your system for USB 3.1?

Source: Various

Tom's Hardware Tests USB 3.1 on MSI's X99A Gaming 9 ACK

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Storage | February 11, 2015 - 09:59 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, asmedia

UPDATE: Not to be self-serving, but we have our own story online now looking at the performance of early USB 3.1 hardware on PC Perspective as well! Be sure to check that out!

USB 3.0, for storage, is fast. If you are using an external, spindle-based hard drive, it will perform basically as fast as an internal sibling would. Apart from my two SSDs, I do not even have an internal drive anymore. You can safely install games to external hard drives now.

usb-ss-logo.png

But with USB 3.1, the spec doubled to 10 Gbps, which matches the first generation Thunderbolt connector. A couple of weeks ago, Tom's Hardware put it to the test with an ASMedia USB3.1 to SATA 6 Gbps developer board. Sure enough, when you are raiding a pair of Intel 730 SSDs, you can achieve over 700 MB/s read/write in CrystalDiskMark.

About the most interesting part of Tom's Hardware testing is their CPU usage benchmark. While USB 3.0 on Intel's controller choked a CPU thread, USB 3.1 on ASMedia's controller did not even reach half of a thread's maximum (the CPU in question is a Core i7-5930K Haswell-E at 3.5 GHz).

So until we get flash drives that are constrained by USB 3.0's fairly high ceiling, we might be able to have reduced CPU usage.

Don't worry if it is too big to fit; Team Group's M131 USB drive can do Micro too

Subject: Storage | February 5, 2015 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: usb, team group, M131, Micro USB

Team Group M131 Smart Dual Drive is so named because it can plug into both full sized USB and with the additional connector it can connect to Micro USB ports as well.  It's tiny size at 44 x 16.6 mm and 6.6g makes it easy to carry around, the largest size of 32GB may feel cramped for a PC but seems appropriate for use with a smartphone.  It is not the fastest USB drive out there but eTeknix saw it for sale at £7.19 so you are not paying extra for the convenience of the drive.  Check out their review here.

TeamGroup_M131_Dual_USB2_Flashdrive-Photo-Plugs.jpg

"The limited storage in mobile devices can be a real problem just as the fact that a touchscreen rarely is the optimal input device. Both these things might be a thing of the past if you invest in a Team Group M131 Smart Dual Drive with OTG support that. I’m taking a closer look at 16GB model of just this drive today."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: eTeknix

Creative Introduces Sound Blaster E5 Portable USB DAC and Headphone Amp

Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2014 - 11:44 AM |
Tagged: usb, Portable Audio, headphones, Headphone Amp, DAC, D/A Converter, Cirrus Logic

Creative has added a new member to their portable Sound Blaster "E" series lineup with the E5. 

SoundBlaster_E5.png

This new multi-function DAC and headphone amp features a reference-grade D/A converter chip from Cirrus Logic, the CS4398, which supports up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM audio (and technically DSD 2.8MHz/5.6MHz, though this does not seem to be implemented here). In addition to the realistic analog reproduction possible from a high quality chip like the CS4398, the Sound Blaster E5 provides amplification via a Texas Instruments TI6120A2, which Creative says gives the E5 a "best-in-class 600 ohm headphone amplifier".

Another aspect of the E5 that sets it apart from the previous E1 and E3 models is the inclusion of optical digital input/output, to go along with USB and dual 3.5mm headphone jacks. The two 3.5mm jacks can simultaniously drive two pairs of headphones, and on the back of the unit there are additional 3.5mm jacks for microphone input, line input/output, and these double as optical input/output via mini TOSLINK. (This might be geared for portable use, but would serve as a fine external sound solution for desktops as well!)

feature_10.jpg

The input stage of the E5 uses another Cirrus Logic chip, the CS5361, enabling high quality recording options from various sources at up to same 24-bit/192kHz. While supporting external microphones (as well as line/optical input) the E5 also has "built-in beamforming CrystalVoice microphones for audio recording and calls". And while the E5 is employing Creative's SBX sound processing chip, this DSP can be switched off with a button on the side of the device - a welcome option for serious music listening from high-resolution source material.

feature_04_high.jpg

The Sound Blaster E5 also supports digital input from iPhone and "select" Android phones (listed compatible devices include the Samsung Galaxy S4/S5, Galaxy Note 2/3, and Nexus 5/7). For portable use the E5 has a built-in rechargeable 3200mAh lithium polymer battery, which Creative says will provide up to 8 hours of playback per charge.

The Sound Blaster E5 will be available in October for $199 at Creative's online store (and likely various other retail outlets).

Source: Creative

What is your favourite summer rodent?

Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2014 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: usb, peripherals, input, gaming mouse, gaming keyboard, controller

The Tech Report delves into their favourite peripherals available on the market in this article, covering displays, keyboards, mice and all the other goodies you can attach to your PC.  The brand new G-SYNC 1440p monitor from ASUS of course makes an appearance but there is much more covered than just your display.  A half dozen wired keyboards and three wireless ones made the grade along with a similar number of mice and even controllers are ranked to give you an informed choice about the current market.  They even delve into external audio and storage options so if you have a few unused USB ports head on over and see if you can't find something to fill them

rat7-transform.jpg

"In this second edition of the peripheral staff picks, we've reworked the display section with the latest 4K and G-Sync monitors in mind. We've also updated the other sections to account for price fluctuations, changes in product availability, and findings from our latest round of reviews. The result should be, we hope, a more informative and up-to-date resource for your back-to-school shopping needs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Is the flash drive going to be layer of landfill just above the optical media sediment?

Subject: Storage | June 24, 2014 - 07:43 PM |
Tagged: usb, flash drive, obsolete

A high capacity USB flash drive used to be the definition of great swag, a company could put whatever tools, media or programs on a promotional USB drive but what really counted was the size.  As 128GB and larger drives started to become more common and more reasonably priced may got in the habit of dumping all their optical media to be replaced by a handful of flash drives, some bootable and some not.  Take the Patriot SuperSonic Rage XT 128GB up for review at NikTech, for $80 you get 128GB of storage that can hit 200MB/s random or linear reads and is rather durable.  There is nothing wrong with the drive until you realize you can pick up a 128GB Crucial MX100 and an eSATA cable for the same price or double your storage for an extra $30.  Those SSDs are roughly twice as fast and every bit as rugged, so why pick up that flash drive in the first place?

rage_xt_128gbb.jpg

"Storage capacity needs increase on a daily basis and with them so does demand and thus in the end those two result in more competition between companies and lower prices (at least most of the time). Think about it, just two years ago i was running around carrying an 16GB USB flash drive with my keychain while now i have attached a permanent 32GB one which i sometimes replace with an 128GB one if i need to carry way too much data with me."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: NikkTech

A quick project to give you all the USB chargers you could want

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2014 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: usb, charger, DIY

Over at Hack a Day is a guide on how to convert your old chargers for devices you no longer use into a useful charger with a USB plug.  They will need to be of the 5V variety and provide at least 500 mA in order to be useful with today's gadgets with 1A being preferable; don't go so high you are at risk of killing your device though.  Apple fanatics will have to do the usual modifications to convince their iThing to accept a charge but most other devices won't care if the charger is home made or not, they just want the USB.  Do try not to set yourself or any of your possessions on fire by not testing your charger thoroughly before leaving it unattended.

phonechargerusbd.jpg

"If you’re like us, you probably have a box (or more) of wall warts lurking in a closet or on a shelf somewhere. Depending on how long you’ve been collecting cell phones, that box is likely overflowing with 5V chargers: all with different connectors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

CES 2014: Corsair Flash Voyager GO - closer look

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 02:20 AM |
Tagged: usb, On-The-Go, Flash Voyager GO, flash, corsair, CES 2014, CES

Earlier today, Corsair announced the Flash Voyager GO combination micro USB (OTG spec) / USB 3.0 (standard connector) drive. Being the storage nut that I am, I got a closer look while the rest of the PCPer gang were checking out the new cases, keyboards, and power supplies. Here are some more detailed pics for your viewing pleasure:

2014-01-07 18-01-42.JPG

Connected to an Android smart phone:

2014-01-07 18-02-26.JPG

Connected to a laptop:

2014-01-07 18-03-33.JPG

Yes, you're seeing things correctly. The 'back' end opposite the micro-USB port is actually another USB port supporting USB 3.0 speeds.

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