Subject: Motherboards | September 26, 2015 - 05:08 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, SATA Express, mu-mimo, mini ITX, M.2
Small Form Factor (SFF) enthusiasts will soon have another Mini ITX option for Skylake-based builds in the form of the recently launched Asus Z170I Pro Gaming motherboard. The Z170I Pro Gaming packs a ton of features for its size including all of the latest storage and networking technologies.
Asus is not wasting any space on the PCB with this new board. The LGA 1151 socket is surrounded by two red and black heatsinks covering the Digi+ VRMs (which looks to be 10-phase power delivery which isn’t bad for a SFF board), two DDR4 memory slots (up to 32GB at 3400 MHz), the PCH/Southbridge (part of the Z170 chipset), and a single PCI-E x16 slot along the bottom edge.
Storage options include two SATA III (6Gbps) ports, a single SATA Express port (which holds two SATA III ports of its own), and a M.2 slot on the underside of the motherboard supporting four PCI-E 3.0 lanes.
Other components on the board include an ASMedia USB 3.1 controller, and an EMI shielded SupremeFX 8-channel audio solution that is comprised of the Realtek ALC1150 audio codec, isolated circuitry and an EMI cover, Nichicon capacitors, a dedicated 5V power supply, and a 300-ohm headphone amplifier. Asus is further including a 2x2 MU-MIMO capable 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 radios, and an Intel 1219V Gigabit Ethernet NIC.
Rear IO on the Z170I Pro Gaming includes:
- 1 x PS/2
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI
- 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A (ASMedia controller)
- 4 x USB 3.0 (2 additional ports via internal header)
- 2 x USB 2.0 (2 additional ports via internal header)
- 5 x Analog audio ports
- 1 x Optical audio out
The Z170I Pro Gaming is a nice looking board that incorporates many of the features of its Z170 Pro Gaming (ATX) brother. This miniaturization comes at a price, however. While Asus has not yet released official pricing and availability, expect it to be out soon at least $200 USD.
Check out more Mini ITX hardware at PC Perspective!
Also, if you have not already, please consider reading our review of the Intel Core-i7 6700K "Skylake" Processor.
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2015 - 10:15 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: CES, western digital, storage visions, ssd, SATA Express, hybrid, hdd, ces 2015
At the SATA-IO booth at Storage Visions, they have a functional demo of Western Digital prototype hybrid HDD/SSD's.
These are not hybrid in the traditional sense, as the SSD portion (128GB JMicron based controller driving Toshiba flash in the case of these prototypes) is logically separated from the HDD portion (a standard 4TB Black in this case).
Given that a SATA Express link can simultaneously pass a PCIe 2.0 x2 link in addition to a SATA 6Gbit/sec link, this one unit can link an SSD and an HDD simultaneously and independently. Above you see the standard SATA Express connector, and below is how those pins are connected at the drive itself:
Note the additional pins at what is usually the black side of the connector.
The rest of the connector is mostly a standard SATA connector that you are used to seeing.
At the demo, we saw a single 3.5" hybrid unit booting from the SSD portion and using the 4TB HDD for mass storage, all from the same device. The second demo had a separate boot drive and linked a pair of these prototype units in a dual RAID. Configured through Windows dynamic volumes, a RAID of the HDD's offered the increased performance you might expect from a pair of 4TB WD Blacks. The SSD portion of each unit was also RAIDed, and we saw their combined throughput as just over 1GB/sec. That was not much more than what a pair of RAIDed SATA 6Gb/sec SSDs would do, but realize this was being accomplished in addition to (and independently of) the HDD portions.
We were not allowed to start removing screws, but here's a look at the accessible portion of the logic board for this drive:
There is a JMicron controller paired with a single package of Toshiba flash. Toshiba has shown they can contain 128GB in a single package, so no problems there.
We're not sure where this technology is headed as the recent trend has been towards sticking with the standard SATA link for mass storage and M.2 SSDs plugged directly into the added port we've been seeing in many recent motherboards. We'll keep an eye on this technology moving forward, but for now at least we have seen it in the flesh and fully functional.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 07:37 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, WD, ssd, pcie, SATA Express, hdd
SATA Express is an interface to either connect a hard drive to PCIe lanes, or up to two drives via SATA. Obviously, PCIe bandwidth over a cable connection is the real draw. To use the full speed, however, the drive needs to be able to communicate over PCIe. Currently, the standard uses two PCI Express 2.0 lanes (1 GB/s).
Now that Z97 and H97 have launched, WD is set to show off the technology at Computex. The above image is apparently of a dual-drive product, containing 4TB of rotating media and 128GB of SSD memory. I am immediately reminded of the Western Digital Black2 dual drive which Allyn reviewed last November. That product crammed a 120GB SSD into a 2.5" 1TB HDD, which appeared to the system as two separate drives. The drive has "Technology Demonstration" written in red font right on it, but it could be a good representation of what the company is thinking about.
WD also asserts that their prototype uses standard AHCI drivers, for OS compatibility.
If you want to see this product in action, then -- well -- you kind-of need to be at Computex. At some point, you might be able to see it in your own PC. When? How much? No pricing and availability, again, because it is a tech demo.
Subject: General Tech | May 22, 2014 - 10:42 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z97 Gaming 7, z97, xiaomi, video, tegra k1, tegra, SATA Express, podcast, msi, Intel, in win 901, Broadwell, asmedia, amd, 16nm
PC Perspective Podcast #301 - 05/22/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the IN WIN 901 Chassis, MSI Z97 Gaming 7 Motherboard, R9 Price Drops and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Maleventano
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: Storage | May 22, 2014 - 01:06 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: storage, SATA Express, rumors, chipset, amd
The new SATA Express (SATAe) and M.2 standards are hot topics in the storage world at the moment, and SATAe is one of the more interesting features of the new Intel Z97-based motherboards. Now it looks like it won't be long until AMD counters with support of its own. Well, kind of.
ASMedia is reportedly licensing their SATA Express IP to AMD for an upcoming platform. Didn't know that ASMedia already had a SATAe implementation? The ASUS Z97 Deluxe board which Morry recently reviewed uses an ASMedia controller for one of its two SATAe ports, along with one powered by the chipset.
We can only speculate on the "next gen" platform from AMD mentioned in the report, and it will be interesting to see what kind of performance numbers might be seen from this alleged product.
Subject: Storage | May 12, 2014 - 09:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, hyper express, SATA Express
In this case the picture below is definitely worth 1000 words, it is easy to see just how ASUS created a RAID 0 in a single SSD. Those SanDisk mSATA SSDs are both 128GB and communicate via a ASMedia ASM1062R controller. Astute readers will wonder what this means for TRIM, as those commands often do not pass through a RAID controller and you are right to be concerned for as of yet TRIM is not supported on this drive. Even without proper garbage collection the performance of this drive is rather tempting, as you can see for yourself in Legit Reviews full article.
"Last week we talked about what makes SATA Express important and showed off some performance benchmarks of the ASUS Hyper Express SATA Express External Enclosure. We’ve been able to acquire our own ASUS Hyper Express drive and we spent this week trying it out on our own systems to see how it performed on one of our own systems..."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- A first look at SATA Express with Asus' Hyper Express storage device @ The Tech Report
- Intel 730 240GB SSD Review @ hardware Canucks
- Kingston M.2 Sata SSD: a quick look at engineering sample @ Kitguru
- ADATA Premier Pro SP920 512GB SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SATA III 2.5" SSD Review @ Madshrimps
- NETGEAR ReadyNAS 102 Dual-bay NAS Review @ Techgage
- Plextor M6e 256GB PCIe SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Kingston SSDNow E50 100GB Solid-State Drive @ NikKTech
- ADATA XPG SX900 SSD Review @ TechwareLabs
- Mach Xtreme DIY Series SATA-DOM 32GB SSD @ The SSD Review
- PNY Optima SSD Series @ The SSD Review
- Intel 730 Series 480GB SSD Review in RAID @ Legit Reviews
- SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive @ The SSD Review
- SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB USB3.0 Flash Drive @ eTeknix
- Corsair Flash Voyager GO 64GB PC/Mobile Flash Storage Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Synology DS414j @ Kitguru
- Synology DS214se & DSM 5.0 Overview @ techPowerUp
- Synology DS414j 4-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- Netgear ReadyNAS RN102 & RN104 @ Legion Hardware
- VisionTek mSATA Mini Enclosure Review @ Legit Reviews
- ioSafe 214 Fire and WaterProof NAS Video Review @ Madshrimps
Subject: Storage | May 1, 2014 - 11:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SATA Express, pcie, asus, ssd, Z97-Deluxe
KitGuru had a chance to test the ASUS Z97-Deluxe with a Concept Edition SATA Express SSD from ASUS to see what happens when you can feed the data from an SSD across two SATA ports, giving it the bandwidth of two PCIe lanes. That should allow a theoretical 10Gbps bandwidth as PCIe 3.0 lanes are still being held in reserve as there are not that many available on an LGA1150 board but as KitGuru points out "leaked information suggest (we still cannot confirm anything) that M.2 support will be native to the ‘future Intel chipset’." Check out their review and be prepared to be amazed that the speed of 728MBps was lower than expected.
"We revisit the SATA Express interface to obtain a more up-to-date look at what the next generation of SATA connections is capable of. Our tools for the job; a retail Asus motherboard set to release soon, and a concept version of Asus’ Hyper Express enclosure, internally powered by solid state storage."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- ASUS Hyper Express SATA Express Drive Performance Preview @ Legit Reviews
- OCZ RevoDrive 350 PCIe SSD 480GB @ Kitguru
- What Is SATA Express and Why It Matters @ Legit Reviews
- Plextor M6M 256GB mSATA SSD @ Custom PC Review
- Micron M500DC Enterprise SSD Review (480GB) @ The SSD Review
- Crucial M550 512GB SATA SSD @ Custom PC Review
- Silicon Power 32GB Superior microSDHC UHS-1 Flash Card Review @ Madshrimps
- 32GB OTG USB Flash Drive Roundup - Corsair, Kingston, Transcend @ Legit Reviews
- Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo OTG 32GB USB Flash Drive @ NikKTech
- Lexar Professional 600x SDXC UHS-1 Card @ SSD Review
- Kingwin KF-252-BK Internal Hard Drive Hot Swap Rack Review @ Tweaknews
- Synology DiskStation DS414j
- Vantec NexStar 6G 2.5" Hard Drive Enclosure Review @HiTech Legion
- Synology DS1513+ 5-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech, Chipsets, Storage | November 12, 2013 - 09:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, 9-series, SATA Express
Intel is preparing to launch several processors next year. For back-to-school, Haswell will return with new SKUs and a new 9-series chipset; in the holiday season, Haswell-E will arrive for high-end (high wattage) enthusiasts on the X99 chipset; and, just before 2015, Broadwell-K will be available for the mainstream 9-series desktop.
The specification, which more than triples SATA 6Gbps's "up-to 600MB/s" bandwidth rating, will not be validated for Intel 9 Series chipsets. Intel was originally rumored to be its launch partner. The host connector accepts connections from both SATA (up to two per host connector) and PCIe-based (one device, up to two lanes) hard drives. Two PCIe lanes provides 2GB/s of bandwidth.
It seems like the real benefit is to allow internal drives be connected with PCIe speeds through a ribbon-cable. Currently Intel has not given a reason to pass on the standard.