ASRock X79 Extreme11 Software

Despite the tweaks made to the presentation of the ASRock BIOS for the X79 Extreme11, we have not any tweaks to the standard software in the OS.  The staple of the ASRock software package is the ‘555’ system, whereby ASRock state that their XFast RAM, XFast USB and XFast LAN can offer up to 5x performance (as long as the appropriate benchmark is chosen).  Around this is the ASRock eXtreme Tuning Utility (AXTU), which houses the majority of the in-house made software for overclocking and fan controls.

The Driver CDs with ASRock products are always relatively easy to use – one click installs all the necessary drivers and another click to software with no intervention needed by the user.

Also in the X79 Extreme11 package we get extra bundled software for the LSI chip called MegaRAID, and the Creative Sound Core3D chip on board also has its own software package in the form of TruStudio.  Both will be detailed here.

AXTU (ASRock eXtreme Tuning Utility)

The AXTU utility attempts to be the centerpiece of the ASRock software, providing a hardware monitor, fan controls, overclocking controls, power saving utilities, and more recently, the inclusion of XFast RAM.

The hardware monitor is self describing, but the fan controls echo the ones scene on many ASRock boards of past.  Instead of a simple graph demonstrating RPM % as a function of temperature, ASRock give us the option to choose a target temperature, then a ramp in the form of a level 1-10 option.  One assumes that Level 10 is the most aggressive, but it is unknown if that ramp is the sharpest or the shallowest – it is hard to define aggressive in this context.  Other fan headers are also given ramp options without the target temperature.  It would be relatively very easy to knock up some software to actually control these fans properly relating to the temperature sensors on board – a focused effort is required by the manufacturer in order to envisage such controls though.

The overclocking tools offer BCLK and CPU ratio adjustments, as well as voltages.  It strikes me as odd that the CPU voltage is offered as an offset, but the memory voltage is offered as a fixed value.  This could be because of how these voltages are determined electrically, and the fact that this software has to be able to deal with many processors that all have different VIDs, but that should not deter the software from providing both an actual and an offset option.

The XFast RAM bit of the software is what we find most interesting.  Due to the X79 platform, we have functionality up to 64 GB of memory.  The ideal scenario would be to partition some of this off into a RAM Disk or a RAM Cache – this is exactly what XFast RAM does.  We can allocate a disk size, and then ask the software to configure this RAM Disk as storage for temporary or cache files in order to speed up processing.

XFast LAN

The XFast LAN software is ASRock’s re-branding of cFosSpeed, a software management tool for networking capabilities.  The retail price of around 10 euros is absorbed by ASRock, presumably with some bulk sales deal, and for a little extra CPU power used, the network traffic can be monitored and shaped as required for all networking devices.

XFast USB

The XFast USB software is a staple part of the ASRock package.  This is licensed software with ASRock re-branding works on the principle that the default drivers for USB ports in Windows 7 are flawed.  By invoking a rewritten driver when a device is inserted, the USB port can call upon BOT (Bulk Only Transfer) commands in order to improve throughput (at the expense of latency).  In our testing this driver increases speed for large transfer size files by a good margin, although for smaller transfers the UASP commands offered by other manufacturers offer an advantage.

MegaRAID

The MegaRAID software comes direct from LSI, and is used to manage the SAS ports on the motherboard.  The main feature of the software is to create and manage the RAID arrays – either RAID 0, 1 or 10.  In our testing later, we will show the functionality when we test all eight ports at RAID-0, however due to the software we were limited to a 64 KB stripe size in our arrays.

The MegaRAID software allows users to define an array in a ‘Simple’ or ‘Advanced’ mode.

TruStudio

The audio software comes direct from Creative, and offers a wide range of manipulation techniques for your audio, including a proprietary technology called scout mode, which we assume is a software filter to increase the volume of typical footstep frequency sounds.  The software also allows for a mixer, and equalizer, jack setups and voice filters for VOIP.

ASRock X79 Extreme11 BIOS ASRock X79 Extreme11 In The Box, Voltage Readings
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  • sor - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    Yeah, server guys know that's standard. These chips are nice for external JBODs for things like ZFS, and for simple redundancy levels. Quite often, however, when they're on the motherboard there's a header and module you can purchase/install to enable RAID5. Reply
  • Snuddi - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    Please performe some RAID10 benchmarks on this. As I have read acorss forums the RAID10 results are horrible (I have tried this on my own also).

    With 8x 1TB disk's in RAID10 I get simuar speed as a single HDD.

    So it would be great if you could test this in your test system. If numbers are horrible as I belive they will be, then AsRock will have some pressure on fixing that.
    Reply
  • blacksun1234 - Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - link

    Please enable "Disk Cache Policy" in LSI MegaRAID utility and test again. It improve a lot. Reply
  • yahodahan - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    Anandtech is a great review site, but there really needs to be a properly useful benchmark here.

    We're talking about a board that is built for massive GPU compute, so how about an actual GPU compute benchmark? Otherwise, this review has a massive, massive hole in it.

    Blender is free. Cycles is free. They have benchmark files ready to open and click "run", it's not a big hassle. And it will push every single GPU to 100%, thrash this board in a real test, and give us (people who intend to actually use the board for real GPU work, as it was intended), the data we need most.

    There's so much detailed info in this article, and I appreciate that, but it's honestly missing the most important part, it would be great to see a proper follow-up/etc to fix this.
    Reply
  • cjb110 - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    Blender might be free, but time isn't! Even if they ran the test, a single number on its own would be useless...esp to the general reader.

    It was mentioned in the review that this product is a little out of the norm for their testing.
    But it is handled consistent with their other reviews, which makes more sense, than running a bunch of tests with no comparison points.

    If you want a specialised review for the boards target market I'm sure they're out there.

    But maybe Blender could be included in the standard test suite, could cut down the number of game tests (these don't seem to differ much between boards).
    Reply
  • yahodahan - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    Sure, but that's the point: a review like this should take the time to focus directly on what actually matters, and in this case that is GPU compute performance (and RAID, for others).

    This board is a specialty case, and should be treated as such. Drop in 4 GPU's at x16 each, then 6 at x8, and do a render to see if there is a difference.

    Then, test on a board with two "real" (non PLEX) x16 slots, and see if there is a difference vs 2 x16 on this boards "multiplied" channels.

    This would give some numbers that are really, truly meaningful. Yes, it would take time, but why was time taken to benchmark it on games/etc, when it's been shown time and again that those numbers simply don't change and mean practically nothing?

    What I'm trying to say is, this board is for a niche market- so please, test it for that niche market, not for the general masses that will never, ever use it.
    Reply
  • ggathagan - Wednesday, September 05, 2012 - link

    There's the very real possibility that Ian doesn't have 4 GPU's to test with. Reply
  • error451 - Wednesday, September 05, 2012 - link

    Then whats the point of testing the board if your not going to benchmark its main selling points and features? This is a specialized motherboard that should have had a specialized review. Just running their standard game and video encoding benchmarks is a waste.

    This issue pops up every time Anandtech does a review of a non gamer/mass market product. They tell you about all the cool features and then run their standard review suite.
    Reply
  • MadMan007 - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    Know what makes this motherboard so great? It goes to 11! Reply
  • gkatz - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    Can someone explain to me under what circumstances you might need 22 USB ports? Reply

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