ASRock Industrial NUCS BOX-1360P/D4 Review: Raptor Lake-P Impresses, plus Surprise ECCby Ganesh T S on January 29, 2023 9:30 AM EST
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- ASRock Industrial
- Raptor Lake-P
Low-power processors have traditionally been geared towards notebooks and other portable platforms. However, the continued popularity of ultra-compact form-factor desktop systems has resulted in UCFF PCs also serving as lead vehicles for the latest mobile processors. Such is the case with Intel's Raptor Lake-P - the processor SKUs were announced earlier this month at the 2023 CES, and end-products using the processor were slated to appear in a few weeks. Intel is officially allowing its partners to start selling their products into the channel today, and also allowing third-party evaluation results of products based on Raptor Lake-P to be published.
ASRock Industrial introduced their Raptor Lake-P-based NUC clones as soon as Intel made the parts public. With the new platform, the company decided to trifurcate their offerings - a slim version (sans 2.5" drive support) with DDR4 SODIMM slots in the NUCS BOX-13x0P/D4, a regular height version with 2.5" drive support in the NUC BOX-13x0P/D4, and a slightly tweaked version of the latter with DDR5 SODIMM slots in the NUC BOX-13x0P/D5. The NUCS BOX-1360P is the company's flagship in the first category, and the relative maturity of DDR4-based platforms has allowed them to start pushing the product into the channel early.
ASRock Industrial sampled us with a NUCS BOX-1360P/D4 from their first production run. We expected a run of the mill upgrade with improvements in performance and power efficiency. In the course of the review process, we found that the system allowed control over a new / key Raptor Lake-P feature that Intel hadn't even bothered to bring out during their CES announcement - in-band ECC. This review provides a comprehensive look at Raptor Lake-P's feature set for desktop platforms along with with detailed performance and power efficiency analysis for SFF PC workloads.
Introduction and Product Impressions
Intel's Raptor Lake-P builds upon Alder Lake-P and its heterogeneous processor architecture by moving to a more efficient manufacturing process. Unlike the desktop version with improved cache size per performance core and doubled efficiency cores count, the -P series provides improvements essentially from the updated V-F curves. This has allowed Intel to increase the turbo clocks for both core types to deliver better performance and power efficiency - all while retaining the same 28W nominal TDP of Alder Lake-P. There are also a number of I/O improvements such as additional Thunderbolt 4 ports and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 support on them, but the adoption of those are dependent on other board component choices by the system manufacturer.
ASRock is a well-known vendor in the consumer PC market. In 2011, the company set up the ASRock Industrial business unit to focus on industrial motherboards. The division branched out in 2018 as an independent vendor with exclusive focus on B2B products. The company has products for deployment in small businesses (offices), automation, robotics, security, and other industrial / IoT applications. Primarily, the company develops motherboards, and sells them to various system integrators who can do their own value additions. Additionally, the company also sells mini-PCs based on the developed motherboards into the retail channel. We have taken a close look at the performance profile of various ASRock Industrial UCFF PCs before, including that of the NUC BOX-1260P based on the Core i7-1260P Alder Lake-P processor.
The company provided us with a sample of their first Raptor Lake-P mini-PC - the NUCS BOX-1360P/D4. This is essentially a follow-up product to the NUC BOX-1200 series, but not exactly a drop-in replacement. While the NUC BOX-1200 series came with dual LAN capabilities, and a choice of both HDMI and Display Port outputs, the NUCS BOX-1300 series replaces the Display Port output with another HDMI port and does away with one of the LAN ports.
While the NUC BOX series uses a chassis tracing its roots back to ASRock's now defunct Beebox product line, the NUCS BOX is a first for ASRock Industrial. Without the need to support a 2.5" drive, the chassis height has been cut down from 48mm to 38mm. The original fingerprint magnet of a chassis top has also been replaced with matte plastic. The relative distance between the motherboard and the chassis top has not been altered, though (the height reduction is completely on the underside where the 2.5" drive caddy used to be placed). The cooling solution for the processor is time-tested within that case design, and all that ASRock Industrial has done for the NUCS BOX-1300 series is to alter the I/O cut-outs slightly to match the new board.
ASRock Industrial's main focus is on B2B customers. It is no surprise that their systems are packaged in a nondescript manner. However, within the package, the company includes everything that an end-user would need - a VESA mount and associated screws, M.2 SSD installation aids, a geo-specific power cord and a 90W power adapter.
ASRock Industrial markets their mini-PCs in a barebones configuration, with the choice of RAM and SSD left to the end user. Installing these components involves removing four screws from the underside of the unit and slotting in the SODIMMs and affixing the M.2 SSD with a screw. It must be noted here that the M.2 SSD installation in the NUCS BOX-1360P is much easier compared to the NUC BOX-1200 series as the screw slot is directly on the board and not on a separate plastic tab. The side of the chassis are perforated for air intake and the rear has the air vent that allows the laptop-style blower fan to exhaust air after passing it through the heat spreader.
In order to make an apples-to-apples comparison, we opted to utilize the same set of components used in our review of the NUC BOX-1260P. The NUCS BOX-1360P/D4 was equipped with an ADATA XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite and 2x 32GB of the Kingston FURY Impact DDR4-3200 SODIMMs. The full specifications of our review sample (as tested) are summarized in the table below.
|ASRock NUCS BOX-1360P/D4 Specifications
|Processor||Intel Core i7-1360P
Raptor Lake 4P + 8E / 16T, up to 5.0 GHz (P) up to 3.7 GHz (E)
Intel 7, 18MB L2, Min / Max / Base TDP: 20W / 64W / 28W
PL1 = 28W, PL2 = 64W
|Memory||Kingston FURY Impact KHX3200C20S4/32GX DDR4-3200 SODIMM
20-22-22-48 @ 3200 MHz
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe Graphics
(96EU @ 1.50 GHz)
|Disk Drive(s)||ADATA XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite
(2 TB; M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe;)
(Micron 96L 3D TLC; Silicon Motion SM2267 Controller)
|Networking||1x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Intel I226-LM)
Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 (2x2 802.11ax - 2.4 Gbps)
|Audio||Realtek ALC233 (3.5mm Audio Jack in Front)
Digital Audio with Bitstreaming Support over HDMI and Display Port
|Video||2x HDMI 2.0b (Rear)
2x Display Port 1.4 over Type-C Alt-Mode
|Miscellaneous I/O Ports||1x USB4 Type-C (Front, up to 40 Gbps)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (Front, with DP Alt Mode)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Front)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Rear)
|Operating System||Windows 11 Enterprise (22000.1455)|
|Pricing||(Street Pricing on February 7th, 2022)
US $691 (barebones)
US $1050 (as configured, no OS)
|Full Specifications||ASRock Industrial NUCS BOX-1360P/D4 Specifications|
In the next section, we take a look at the BIOS options along with an analysis of the motherboard platform. It also includes an overview of the in-band ECC feature that Intel had played down at launch. Following that, we have a number of sections focusing on various performance aspects with and without in-band ECC before concluding with an analysis of the value proposition of the system.
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drajitshnew - Sunday, January 29, 2023 - linkThe in band ECC is an absolutely brilliant idea for systems with 64 GB or more. It is unfortunate that windows does not support it. Reply
Samus - Sunday, January 29, 2023 - linkMy understanding is this doesn't need support at the software level. This is still "hardware ECC" and OS-independent. Reply
Samus - Sunday, January 29, 2023 - linkOh, I see what you are saying. About how Windows will handle an error. In AT's memtest run the test triggered a stop interrupt presumably as it didn't know how to handle the error. I see what you are getting at with Windows. Reply
bernstein - Monday, January 30, 2023 - linkit's more likely, that chrome mandates ecc support, while with windows intel pushes ecc as $$$ feature Reply
email@example.com - Monday, February 13, 2023 - linkThis competes with laptops. Please expand on why ECC is coming up? Reply
mode_13h - Tuesday, February 14, 2023 - link> Please expand on why ECC is coming up?
This is sold as an industrial mini-PC. For something like that, reliability is key. Memory errors are one potential source of reliability problems, and ECC is an effective measure to compensate (short-term) and flag for replacement (long-term) any defective memory modules or boards.
The lore behind ECC is that it protects against cosmic rays, but I've only personally seen ECC errors that seem tied to flaky or failing hardware. It's worthwhile even for that purpose, alone. Reply
TLindgren - Sunday, January 29, 2023 - linkIt needs to be noted that SECDED over 512 bit is FAR less powerfull in handling errors than SECDED over 64-bit like regular ECC (or SECDED over 32-bit using DDR5 ECC sticks). They could have instead emulated the SECDED over each 64-bit chunk but then the extra reserved memory would have needed to be 8GB instead of 2GB, and the performance penalty likely would have been sigificantly worse.
SECDED means it's guaranteed to correct one incorrect bit (SEC) and detect two incorrect bits (DED), no warranties for what happen with more incorrect bits but there's a decent statistical chance it'll detect them (but no chance it'll fix them).
Obviously getting two or even three+ faulty bits in the same "group" is far more likely over 512-bit compared to 64-bit, in fact it's my understanding that it'll likely happen most of the time given how memory sticks are constructed!
It's still useful because it'll detect a certain percentage of the multi-bit error so you will often? get told that you that you have faulty memory (except this doesn't seem to work) before things crash which means you know you need to fix the hardware, but the "correct bits" part is unlikely to save you because at least some of the time it'll get multiple wrong bits in the burst. I suspect they would have been better of with just giving up on correcting and aiming for "detect as many bit errors as we can" (probably 3-4 guaranteed bit detected with the 16-bit of extra data per 512bit they choose).
It's definitely better than no ECC *if* the software support gets improved a bit, but is in no way comparable to "real" ECC. OTOH, it's not priced as that either but it needs to be pointed out because some people will sell it as if it is. Reply
ganeshts - Monday, January 30, 2023 - linkTaken standalone, you arguments are completely sound.
However, in the bigger picture, you should note that newer memory technologies include link ECC to protect the high-speed communication link between the SoC and the external memory, AND, the DRAM DIMMs themselves implement transparent ECC for the stored data.
Overall, even mission-critical requirements like ASIL / ISO26262 (for automotive safety) can be met with the requisite FIT (failure-in-time) rate using SECDED protection for 512-bit blocks *assuming those other protection mechanisms are also in place*.
In-band ECC is also used on Tegra for such embedded applications [ https://twitter.com/never_released/status/13559704... ; I can't seem to dig up the original documentation, but remember this was heavily discussed when the Tegra feature was made public ]. Reply
ganeshts - Monday, January 30, 2023 - link(Correction: DRAM DIMMs -> The memory chips) Reply
mode_13h - Tuesday, February 14, 2023 - link> you should note that newer memory technologies include link ECC to protect the high-speed communication link between the SoC and the external memory
Are you saying the system you reviewed also supports traditional out-of-band ECC? Why wasn't that mentioned in the review? If not, then your point would seem to be moot.
I also don't see the point of using in-band ECC atop OOB ECC. Anything that OOB ECC can't correct doesn't seem like it's going to be correctable by in-band ECC. Reply