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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  • Azethoth - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    "a SAS". "an" is for words starting with vowels like "an error", "a" is for words starting with consonants like "a Serial Attached SCSI" or "a Storage Area Network" or "a SAS"*. It rolls off the tongue better when you don't have adjacent vowels.

    *Your particular English implementation may have different rules, these were the ones I grew up with. I find them simple and easy to apply.
    Reply
  • lukarak - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    That's not entirely true.

    It would be an 'a' if you read it as 'a sas'. But with SAS, we usually pronounce it as S A S, and then it goes with 'an'.
    Reply
  • ahar - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    Who's "we"? It doesn't include me. Why use three syllables when one will do?
    Do you also talk about R A M, or R A I D arrays, or an L A N?
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    Like lukarak said, that is not true. The English language uses "an", when the word following it starts with a vowel sound. That doesn't necessarily mean it has a vowel as the first character (see hour).

    As for abbreviations, there is no rule for it. Some people pronounce them like a single word, others don't. I use LAN, RAM, RAID as a word, but pronounce SAS as S.A.S. and SATA as S.ATA for example and SNES as S.NES. You can't appease both groups. So I think the writer of the article should go with whatever he feels most comfortable with, so that he avoids flipping between things unconsciously.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    "If you believe the leaks/news online about an upcoming single slot GTX670, or want to purchase several single slot FirePro cards, then the ASRock will give you all that bandwidth as long as the user handles the heat."
    I'd probably slap some water coolers on there. Insane setup :D.
    Reply
  • tynopik - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    Is it even confirmed that this Ivy Bridge-E is coming out? Reply
  • shunya901 - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link


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  • ypsylon - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    But little is delivered.

    1. Primitive RAID option. Without even small cache it is as useful as Intel Storage Matrix RAID. Of course for R 1/10 parity calculations are not required so lack of XOR chip isn't an issue, but believe me even 128 MB of cache would improve performance greatly.
    2. They bolted 8 SATA/SAS ports to the board instead using standard server oriented SFF-8087 connector. You get one cable running 4 drives not 4 separate cables for each separate drive. Very clumsy solution. And very, very cheap. Exactly what I expect of ASR.
    3. If someone wants RAID buy a proper hardware controller, even for simple setups of R1/10 - plenty of choice on the market. When you change the board in the future you just unplug controller from old board and plug it into new one. No configuration is needed, all arrays remain the same. Idea of running RAID off the motherboard is truly hilarious, especially if somebody change boards every year or two.
    4. Fan on south bridge (or the only bridge as north bridge is in the CPU now? ;) ). Have mercy!
    5. They pretend it is WS oriented board yet they equip it with lame Broadcom NICs. Completely clueless, that kind of inept reasoning is really typical of ASRock.
    6.And finally why persist with ATX. At least E-ATX would be better choice. Spacing some elements wouldn't hurt. Especially with 7 full PCI-Ex slots. Impossible to replace RAM when top slot is occupied, and with really big VGAs it really is tight squeeze between CPU, RAM and VGA. Why not drop top slot to allow air to circulate. Without proper cooling in the case there will be a pocket of hot air which will never move.

    To sum up. Bloody expensive, dumb implementation of certain things, and cheaply made. Like 99% of ASRock products. Cheap Chinese fake dressed like Rolls-Royce. In short:stay away.
    Reply
  • dgingeri - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    1. Many server manufacturers equip their small business servers with a low end chip like that because of cost. Small businesses, like those who would build their own workstation class machines, have to deal with a limited budget. This works for this market space.

    2. I don't see any sign of a SFF-8087 port or cable. I see only SATA ports. Honestly, I would have preferred a SFF-8087 port/cable, as my Dell H200 in my Poweredge T110 II uses. It would take up less real estate on the board and be more manageable. I know this from experience.

    3. Yeah, the Dell H200 (or it's replacement H310) has plenty of ports (8) and runs <$200 yet any hardware raid controller with a cache would run $400 for 4 ports or about $600 for 8. (I have a 3ware 9750 in my main machine that ran me $600.) Depending on your target market, cost could matter. They get what they can with the budget they have.

    4. I'd have to agree with you on the fan, but there's also the little matter of keeping clearance for the video cards top populate the slots. Take off the decorative plate and make the heatsink bigger, and they could probably do without the fan. Unfortunately, there are lots of stupid people out there who buy things on looks rather than capability.

    5. Broadcom NICs are vastly superior to the Realtek or Atheros NICs we usually see on DIY boards. I would be happier to see Intel NICs, but Broadcom is still the second best on the market. I have 2 dual port Broadcom NICs in my Dell T110 II machine (which I use as a VMWare ESXI box to train up for certification and my home server.)They work quite well, as long as you don't use link aggregation.

    6. Many people wouldn't be able to afford a case that would handle E-ATX, especially the target market for this board.

    For the target market, DIY part time IT guy for a small business trying to make a decent CAD station or graphics workstation, it would work fairly well. I'm just not sure about the reliability factor, which would cost a small business big time. I'd say stay away just on that factor. Do with a little less speed and more reliability if you want to stay in business. Dell makes some nice IB workstations that would be perfectly reliable, but wouldn't be as speedy as a SB-E machine.
    Reply
  • 08solsticegxp - Sunday, June 09, 2013 - link

    You have to realize, this board is not a server board. If it was designed for that, I'm sure they would have two sockets. Also, it is much cheaper to add the LSI chip to the board than have it as an add-on card. If it was an add-on card... where do you expect it to go when using 4 Video cards?
    I think the board is designed very well for what it was intended for. You may want to consider looking at design as it relates to the intended purpose... Not, some other purpose.

    I will agree to say I would have liked to see a Raid 5 option on the RAID controller. However, looking at the price of an LSI (who are noted for being a high quality RAID controller) it is pretty pricey when you start getting to the controllers that have RAID 5 as an option.
    Reply

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