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ASRock X99 Extreme6/ac (Intel X99) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2011 in Motherboards | Posted: Apr 11, 2015 2:15 am
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: ASRock

Circuit Analysis

 

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In this section, I will start off with the voltage regulators and then move to other important circuits.

 

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The VRM on this board consists of 12 phases. ASRock has focused on power density by utilizing lower profile 60A inductors and more integrated phases. The output filter is a mix of three different types of capacitors; 8x 560uF solid 12K Nichicon capacitors at 4480uF, 6x 330uF tantalum POSCAPs at 1980uF, and some ceramics. This is roughly 6460uF total and more than enough for strong performance.

 

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The PWM controller is an Intersil ISL6379 Digitally Controlled Hybrid 6 phase PWM. There is no datasheet, but I would venture to guess that it is a 6+1 phase PWM. To get 12 phases, manufacturers must double the phase count from the PWM, since there is no 12 phase PWM in production for motherboards. ASRock uses 6x Intersil ISL6611A which are phase doublers with integrated dual drivers. This saves a lot of space which is important considering the limited motherboard real-estate of the X99 platform.

 

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ASRock is using 12x FDMS3668S which are dual N-Channel MOSFETs from Fairchild Semiconductor in the PowerTrench package. They have very good thermal and current ratings at 13A/18A (high/low side) at only 2.5W, which is excellent.

 

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Each memory VRM is like a two phase version of the CPU VRM, using the same ISL6379 PWM and the same dual N-Channel PowerTrench MOSFETs for a total of three ISL6379 and 16 dual MOSFETs on the board. An MPS MPQ8632 is used for the VPP power for each set of the 4 DIMMs.

 

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It's pretty amazing that ASRock is using the ISL6379 three times on the board - it is overkill, but should provide very nice voltage control. The memory DIMM's main MOSFETs need drivers and four tiny ones are found on the back of the board. The drivers are Intersil ISL6208.

 

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The audio is powered by an ALC1150 which compliments the Intel Azalia processor in the PCH and two Texas Instruments NE5532 are used to amplify the backpanel and front panel audio outputs. Eight Nichicon gold 100uF electrolytic audio capacitors are used for the analog domain and the audio circuitry is isolated to reduce noise.

 

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The X99 Extreme6/ac has two wired NICs, one utilizes Intel's i218v and the other is a Qualcomm Atheros QCA8171, which is very similar to Killer e2201, just without the special software layer.

 

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An ASMedia ASM1042AE provides two USB 3.0 ports from a single PCI-E lane for the two northernmost USB 3.0 ports on the back panel IO, and an ASMedia ASM1074 is a USB 3.0 hub controller which takes one USB 3.0 port and expands it into the four USB 3.0 ports on the back panel. The internal USB 3.0 headers are directly connected to the Intel PCH.

 

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The Ultra M.2 slot will take its bandwidth from the last 16x slot through two ASM1480 quick switches which are wired to the CPU's PCI-E 3.0 controller. It can provide up to 20GB/s bandwidth, however, for SATA based M.2 drives, the Ultra M.2 port needs an SATA link to the PCH which is provided through SSATA3_2 and an ASM1456.

 

An ASMedia 1480 switches bandwidth from the SSATA3_3 port to the eSATA port on the back panel. This switching is all sound and performance won't take a hit as ports are just being traded and not shared.

 

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Like I saw on another server type X99 motherboard, there is hardware to support Intel Xeon processors. In this case, two NXP PCA9617A provide level shifting between low and high voltage I2C and SMBus busses and provide ESD protection. I also wanted to point out ESD protection for the USB 3.0 internal headers in the image on the right.

 

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This is the wireless AC/BT 4.0 mini PCI-E card that comes with the board. It is an AzureWave BCM94352 which is made by Broadcom. The Wireless AC is 2x2 which means speeds of up to 867Mb/s.

 

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A nuvoTon NCT6791D provides SuperIO functionality and the PS/2 port on the backpanel. An STMicro ST75185 provides drivers and receivers for the COM port.

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