ASRock Z68 Extreme 7 Motherboard is a high-end motherboard designed for computer enthusiasts and gamers. It is based on the Intel Z68 chipset and supports LGA 1155 processors, including the 2nd and 3rd Generation Intel Core i7, i5, and i3 processors.
There are related high-end motherboards from where you can get more information.
One of the key features of the ASRock Z68 Extreme 7 is its support for both Intel Smart Response Technology and Lucid Virtu Universal MVP. The former allows users to combine a solid-state drive with a hard drive to improve system performance. However, the latter optimizes graphics performance by utilizing both the onboard graphics and a discrete graphics card.
Intel’s development follows its “tick-tock” strategy. It is one swing that represents a new architecture, and the next focuses on process improvements. This development cycle is about 2 years each, so here I am in 2011 with the new architecture: Sandy Bridge. With, the launch of Socket 1155, came the H67 and P67 chipsets, H67 was geared to the budget-oriented consumer, with onboard graphics and no overclocking abilities.
P67, on the other hand, employed only discrete graphics but came with high performance overclocking capabilities. Each had pros and cons, and users were forced to choose when going with a new hotrod Sandy Bridge processor.
The Z68 chipset changes that approach, as users can now benefit from the best of both worlds. The simple explanation is the Z68 is a hybrid of both H67 and P67, bringing onboard graphics and high-performance overclocking in a single package.
Also, read our similar article on ASRock Z77 Fatal1ty Professional.
I see the block diagram illustrating the hybrid setup of H67 and P67. It includes onboard graphics in the form of HDMI, DVI, and DP (and lossless digital audio). It also brings PCI Express lanes in the form of 16, 8, and 8.
Intel’s Smart Response Technology
Another significant innovation with the Z68 chipset is Intel’s Smart Response Technology (SRT). It relates to storage devices, specifically SSD and HDD setups. While I know that Solid drives offer blistering speed boosts to systems, they are quite expensive for the most part, and also don’t offer the high storage capacity of traditional hard drives.
SRT essentially allows users to create a dynamic RAID with an SSD, paired to the Operating System’s HDD, thus allowing the SSD to cache the most-accessed files, speeding up the system.
I really love the idea of the technology, though in practise it may be a bit less practical since I know the argument to make is simply why not use the SSD as a boot drive (and main applications), then the HDD as the data drive. Worthy questioning, to be sure, but I think SRT is a good step in the right direction for users that may not be able to wipe and reinstall to a new drive, or may not be able to afford a larger capacity SSD to fully take advantage of the speed difference.
Traditional chipsets break the PCIe lanes and downgrade the speed into x 4 or x 1. The PLX PEX8608 chip generates more lanes so PCIe devices can run at the proper speeds. PCIe 3.0 is a substantial upgrade from PCie 2.0 as seen in the lower chart. 3.0.
It essentially doubles the bandwidth as seen in the encoding efficiency of 15% faster. However,, on the ASRock motherboards, Sandy Bridge will natively run at USB 2.0 and Ivy Bridge at USB 3.0.