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.

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  • vred - Friday, May 29, 2015 - link

    LOL @ Photoshopped Extreme7 labels.
  • etamin - Saturday, May 30, 2015 - link

    Very cool. Looking forward to Ultra M.2 going mainstream.
  • Senti - Saturday, May 30, 2015 - link

    I so hope that Killer network dies a painful death...

    Why it's so hard to use proper Intel x2 everywhere? Do gamers have the brains to think what type of NIC connects their servers? It's so not Killer...
  • TesseractOrion - Saturday, May 30, 2015 - link

    Agreed about Killer Network. I use generic Qualcomm Atheros drivers in preference to the "Killer" ones & that results in fewer problems. There must be some reason mobo manufacturers keep including them though. Still, it keeps purveyors of Intel addin cards going I suppose...
  • thomasxstewart - Saturday, May 30, 2015 - link

    Born To Be the Fastest! ASRock Ultra M.2 Gen3 x4 32Gb/s, 8.8% fast than M.2, in thin use, no extras, maybe x97. Maybe do better or worse now. 170 might be 107 chipset promised, I thank ASRock help in that way. Light coming in tunnel, will 190 or 109 be end of tunnel, for while. till 9/10 nm.
    game righ has 5 memory clips, 4 slots in photo, oh,well. how many zeons coming, computex and away.

    everywong has to get brag right on something this new and power upper.....extreme with 4 390 or better yet 395. wheez 3.1usb
    +/or pci-e 3.1/?4 coming. 4k?. vats intel jibber new memory/cpu/graphics potential,ehhhhhh....iWant mine Hottttt....
    drashek kappa kappa wong....errrr,wongee',wong,wong....
  • thomasxstewart - Saturday, May 30, 2015 - link

    fatality 1, then i7. why push small pin count if bee case room for 2017 pin and spare...
    drashek bowling for bandwidth ahso HBM2 x 4,,,,.
  • tcb4 - Saturday, May 30, 2015 - link

    The lack of competition in the desktop space is absolutely ridiculous. On the GPU side AMD and Nvidia dramatically change their entire line up every couple years. Imagine if, like AMD's Gpu division, intel was under enough pressure to bring I7 performance down to i5 pricing and I5 performance down to I3 pricing every two years. I understand that CPU advancement is less important than GPU, but I doubt that Intel is pushing performance like they would if they had a serious competitor. However, without a competitor they're probably better off not driving AMD out of the cpu business as that may lead them to be seen monopoly.
  • SanX - Sunday, May 31, 2015 - link

    Sick seeing only one-chip motherboards. Where are those with 2, 3 or 4? In adfition to utter stupidity of missing mobile revolution this is one more example of lost opportunity of AMD and Intel to sell more chips.

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