Asrock, a well-known supplier of cost-efficient mainboards, has quietly unveiled its first Intel X58-based platform designed to support Intel Corp.’s latest Core i7 processors. The new mainboard is not only made for rather expensive central processing units, it supports four slots for graphics cards, allowing to create 3-way or 4-way ATI or Nvidia GPU configurations, which are only used in case of very expensive systems.
Asrock X58 mainboard supports various Intel Core i7 microprocessors in LGA1366 form-factor and is powered by Intel’s latest premium core-logic X58. The platform features 6 slots for DDR3 memory modules with XMP technology, 4 PCI Express x16 ports, 6 Serial ATA-300 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet, 7.1 audio and so on. The mainboard is equipped with solid-state capacitors and provides certain functions for overclocking of central processing units.
There are very few mainboards on the market that support installation of up to four graphics cards and that also have enough spacing between those slots. This feature alone puts Asrock X58 motherboard inline with premium-class solutions by much larger makers, including Asustek Computer, Gigabyte Technology or MicroStar International. However, positioning of the product by the company itself is rather interesting: Asrock claims that its Intel X58-based mainboard is designed to create “personal supercomputers”.
“Asrock X58 SuperComputer is not any ordinary Intel X58 chipset motherboard on the market. It is the only X58 motherboard worldwide that can be set up as a Nvidia Tesla Personal Supercomputer,” a statement by Asrock reads.
Clearly, even cost-efficient “supercomputers” based on graphics processing units and only capable of working with software that takes advantage of various general purpose processing on graphics processing units (GPGPU) technology, are acquired via high-end system builders. In fact, not only because those systems are vigorously tested and are equipped with appropriate components, but also because GPGPU accelerators, such as ATI/AMD FireStream or Nvidia Tesla, are not sold in the retail. Nevertheless, even Nvidia itself seems to like the idea of building a “supercomputer” based on Asrock mainboard.
“The new X58 SuperComputer motherboard from Asrock is an excellent platform upon which to build an Nvidia Tesla Personal Supercomputer. Supporting up to 4 Nvidia GPUs (the mainboard allow the installation of three Tesla C1060 cards and one Nvidia Quadro card – X-bit labs), each delivering 1TFLOP of processing power, desktop systems built around the X58 SuperComputer motherboard will accelerate the pace of discovery for scientists and engineers around the world,” said Andrew Walsh, general manager of personal supercomputing division at Nvidia.
Considering commercial and scientific nature of supercomputing it is not likely that Asrock will become popular on that market; however, since the mainboard supports all the latest technologies and allows building of high-performance gaming systems, it may become rather accepted by enthusiasts without unlimited budgets. Asrock X58 is not the first high-end motherboard in Asrock’s range, but feature-wise the novelty may easily compete with solutions by other well-known brands.