The current crop of X99 motherboards is loaded with PCI Express slots, M.2 sockets, and Serial ATA ports. But existing implementations apprently weren't enough for ASRock, which has rolled out a new Extreme11 variation that truly lives up to its name. The upgrades start at the CPU socket, which supports not only Haswell-E desktop processors, but also server-grade Haswell-EP chips. Haswell-E CPUs will apparently work with up to 128GB of standard DDR4 memory, while EP-based Xeons will unlock support for ECC RAM.
With the aid of two PLX switch chips, the CPU's 40 PCI Express lanes are split between an impressive array of slots, ports, and peripherals. There are quad x16 slots, each with 16 lanes of bandwidth and sufficient breathing room for double-wide cards. Two "Ultra" M.2 sockets are also connected to the CPU. These mini SSD receptables have four lanes of Gen3 connectivity each, providing plenty of headroom for next-gen drives.
The last item with a PCIe Gen3 link is the LSI Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) controller, which has eight lanes of bandwidth to match its eight SAS 12Gbps/SATA 6Gbps ports. Those ports complement the 10 SATA ports already provided by the chipset, giving the Extreme11 the ability to host up to 18 Serial ATA drives. Perhaps it should have been called the Extreme18, instead.
The rest of the board is similarly indulgent. It has dual Intel GigE controllers, eight USB 3.0 ports, upgraded electrical components, and amplified audio. The price tag hasn't been revealed, but don't expect it to be cheap. ASRock's current Haswell-E flagship, the X99 Professional, lacks the LSI controller, PLX chips, and second Ultra M.2 slot, yet it sells for $345.99. Given all the extra hardware—and the novel Xeon support—the Extreme11 is likely to command a hefty premium.