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250-722 - Implementation of DP Solutions for Windows using NBU 5.0 - Dump Information

Vendor : Symantec
Exam Code : 250-722
Exam Name : Implementation of DP Solutions for Windows using NBU 5.0
Questions and Answers : 114 Q & A
Updated On : April 17, 2019
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250-722 Implementation of DP Solutions for Windows using NBU 5.0

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250-722 exam Dumps Source : Implementation of DP Solutions for Windows using NBU 5.0

Test Code : 250-722
Test Name : Implementation of DP Solutions for Windows using NBU 5.0
Vendor Name : Symantec
Q&A : 114 Real Questions

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Symantec Implementation of DP Solutions

the way to put in force Dynamic Programming in Swift | killexams.com Real Questions and Pass4sure dumps

In our exploration of algorithms, we’ve applied many thoughts to supply outcomes. Some ideas have used iOS-certain patterns while others have been extra generalized. although it hasn’t been explicitly outlined, some of our options have used a particular programming fashion called dynamic programming. while simple in theory, its software can every now and then be nuanced. When utilized correctly, dynamic programming can have an impressive impact on how you to write code. in this essay, we’ll introduce the thought and implementation of dynamic programming.

store For Later

if you’ve bought something through Amazon.com, you’ll be familiar with the site time period — “store For Later”. because the phrase implies, customers are supplied the option so as to add gadgets to their cart or retailer them to a “wish checklist” for later viewing. When writing algorithms, we commonly face an identical option of completing actions (performing computations) as facts is being interpreted or storing the effects for later use. Examples encompass retrieving JSON records from a RESTful service or the use of the Core information Framework:

In iOS, design patterns can support us time and coordinate how statistics is processed. particular techniques include multi-threaded operations (e.g. Grand principal Dispatch), Notifications and Delegation. Dynamic programming (DP) on the other hand, isn’t necessarily a single coding technique, but somewhat the way to think about actions (e.g. subproblems) that take place as a function operates. The resulting DP answer may fluctuate reckoning on the difficulty. In its simplest form, dynamic programming depends on data storage and reuse to boost algorithm effectivity. The technique of information reuse is also referred to as memoization and can take many varieties. As we’ll see, this style of programming offers a lot of advantages.

Fibonacci Revisited

in the essay on Recursion, we in comparison building the basic sequence of Array values the usage of each iterative and recursive strategies. As discussed, these algorithms have been designed to supply an Array sequence, now not to calculate a specific influence. Taking this into consideration, we can create a new edition of Fibonacci to come back a single Int cost:

func fibRecursive(n: Int) -> Int if n == 0 return 0

if n <= 2 return 1

return fibRecursive(n: n-1) + fibRecursive(n: n-2)

at first look, it looks this seemingly small feature would even be efficient. youngsters, upon extra analysis, we see a lot of recursive calls ought to be made for it to calculate any result. As proven under, for the reason that fibRecursive can't shop up to now calculated values, its recursive calls boost exponentially:

Fibonacci Memoized

Let’s try a different method. Designed as a nested Swift function, fibMemoized captures the Array return value from its fibSequence sub-feature to calculate a remaining cost:

extension Int

//memoized versionmutating func fibMemoized() -> Int

//builds array sequencefunc fibSequence(_ sequence: Array<Int> = [0, 1]) -> Array<Int>

var final = Array<Int>()

//mutated copyvar output = sequence

let i: Int = output.count number

//set base situation - linear time O(n)if i == self return output

let outcomes: Int = output[i - 1] + output[i - 2]output.append(outcomes)

//set iterationfinal = fibSequence(output)return remaining

//calculate last product - steady time O(1)let results = fibSequence()let reply: Int = results[results.endIndex - 1] + effects[results.endIndex - 2]return reply

although fibSquence contains a recursive sequence, its base case depends upon the number of requested Array positions (n). In efficiency terms, we are saying fibSequence runs in linear time or O(n). This efficiency growth is achieved with the aid of memoizing the Array sequence obligatory to calculate the ultimate product. consequently, each and every sequence permutation is computed as soon as. The improvement of this method is considered when evaluating the two algorithms, shown below:

Shortest Paths

Code memoization can additionally improve a software’s efficiency to the aspect of making reputedly difficult or almost unsolvable questions answerable. An illustration of this can be viewed with Dijkstra’s Algorithm and Shortest Paths. To overview, we created a unique records constitution named direction with the aim of storing particular traversal metadata:

//the direction type maintains objects that include the "frontier" class direction

var complete: Intvar destination: Vertexvar old: route?

//object initializationinit()vacation spot = Vertex()total = 0

What makes route helpful is its ability to store statistics on nodes previously visited. corresponding to our revised Fibonacci algorithm, route stores the cumulative side weights all traversed vertices (total) in addition to an entire background of each visited Vertex. Used conveniently, this makes it possible for the programmer to reply questions such as the complexity of navigating to a selected destination Vertex, if the traversal became certainly a hit (in discovering the vacation spot), as well as the checklist of nodes visited all over. reckoning on the Graph size and complexity, no longer having this counsel attainable may mean having the algorithm take so long to (re)compute records that it turns into too gradual to be constructive, or no longer being in a position to remedy a must have questions as a result of insufficient statistics.

India- Healthcare Cyber protection Market Projected to attain $10.85 Billion via 2022: Grand View analysis, Inc. | killexams.com Real Questions and Pass4sure dumps

(MENAFN - GetNews) in accordance with file posted by way of Grand View research, key factors attributing to the increase of the healthcare cyber safety market consist of the expanding incidences of cyber attacks for misuse of electronic affected person health data (E-PHR), social safety facts, IP theft, and others. in line with a record,'Healthcare Cyber security Market via conclusion-Use (prescribed drugs & chemical substances, scientific gadgets, medical health insurance, Hospitals), by using category of hazard (Malware, DDoS, superior Persistent danger (APT), spyware, misplaced, Stolen contraptions), via category of solution (identity and entry management, risk and Compliance administration, Antivirus and Antimalware, DDoS Mitigation, security tips, experience management (SIEM), Intrusion Detection system (IDS)/Intrusion Prevention device (IPS)) and phase Forecasts To 2022, published with the aid of Grand View analysis, Inc., global healthcare cyber protection market dimension is expected to reach pretty much USD 10,848.87million by means of 2022. Key elements attributing to the increase of the market include the expanding incidences of cyber assaults for misuse of electronic affected person fitness statistics (E-PHR), social safety information, IP theft, and others.

Key Takeaways from the document:

  • In 2014, North the united states held the biggest market share of more than 41% owing to the presence of subtle healthcare infrastructure, and lengthening collaboration between pharmaceutical, clinical device industries, with regulatory authorities. This can be illustrated using the usFDA counsel doc on networked medical devices.

  • in addition, the U.S. is a prime target for cyber crimes due to, the presence of enormous fortune 500 healthcare organizations, full scale implementation of digital affected person records, and use of huge social safety ids for quite a lot of transactions.

  • Asia Pacific is recognized as one of the vital lucrative regional market, growing to be at a CAGR of over eight.5% all over the forecast duration. swiftly enhancing healthcare infrastructure and excessive level financial boom in establishing international locations equivalent to China, India, and South Korea is expected to increase utilization prices over the forecast duration.

  • expanding number of cyber web users in China and India is expected to create a tremendous user base susceptible to cyber attacks. based on records published by means of the internet and mobile affiliation of India (IAMAI), the information superhighway consumer base in India is expected to attain basically 402 million by way of December 2015

  • Key gamers operating in the healthcare cyber security market encompass, Cisco, IBM, MacAfee, Paulo Alto Networks, Symantec, vogue Micro Lockheed Martin, FireEye, Northrop Grumma, Kaspersky etc.

  • Browse extra reviews in Healthcare IT:
  • own Emergency Response equipment/scientific Alert gadget Market : The increasing necessity for the introduction of creative solutions that are able to enticing valued clientele or personnel to integrate system, facts, IT and company and the expanding demand for the adoption of web of issues (IoT) are propelling market boom.
  • health guidance exchange (HIE) Market : expanding incidence of Alzheimer's disease and rising existence expectancy are estimated to raise the market for clinical alert methods. furthermore, expanding number of mergers and acquisitions by using market gamers are also expected to accelerate boom.
  • protection suggestions and event management (SIEM),chance and compliance administration, DDoS mitigation, antivirus, antimalware, identification and entry administration, intrusion detection system (IDS)/intrusion prevention gadget (IPS) and others are the options covered in the scope of the examine. These options can also be used individually or can be used as a set of items offering layer intelligent security.

    Market dynamics in this sector are elegant on the type of hazard, effectiveness, and frequency of assault, capacity to notice and ruin. New styles of threats are detected everyday, hence, the options should be upgraded always to provide ample firewall protection and stop facts breach.

    Grand View research has segmented the Healthcare Cyber protection market on the foundation of end-use, category of hazard, type of solution, and vicinity:

    Healthcare Cyber safety end-Use Outlook (profits, USD Million, 2012 - 2022)

  • pharmaceuticals & chemical substances

  • clinical gadgets

  • medical health insurance

  • Hospitals

  • Others

  • Healthcare Cyber safety category of threat Outlook (salary, USD Million, 2012 - 2022)
  • pharmaceuticals & chemical substances

  • Malware

  • DDoS

  • advanced Persistent Threats (APT)

  • adware

  • lost or Stolen gadgets

  • Others

  • Healthcare Cyber safety category of answer Outlook (Market revenue in USD Million, 2012 - 2022)
  • identification and access management

  • possibility and Compliance administration

  • Antivirus and Antimalware

  • DDoS Mitigation

  • protection counsel and adventure management (SIEM)

  • Intrusion Detection device (IDS)/Intrusion Prevention equipment (IPS)

  • Others

  • Healthcare Cyber security Regional Outlook (revenue, USD Million, 2012 - 2022)
  • North the united states

  • Europe

  • Asia Pacific

  • Latin the us

  • MEA

  • explore healthcare cyber security market research database, Navigate with Grand View Compass , through Grand View analysis, Inc.About Grand View research

    Grand View analysis gives syndicated in addition to customized analysis stories and consulting functions on forty six industries throughout 25 essential countries worldwide. This U.S.-based mostly market analysis and consulting company is registered in California and headquartered in San Francisco. Comprising over 425 analysts and consultants, the business provides 1200+ market analysis reviews to its extensive database each and every year. Supported by way of an interactive market intelligence platform, the group at Grand View analysis courses Fortune 500 corporations and in demand academic institutes in comprehending the global and regional business atmosphere and thoroughly deciding on future opportunities.

    For more tips: www.grandviewresearch.com

    Media ContactCompany name: Grand View research, Inc.Contact person: Sherry James, corporate earnings professional - united states of americae mail: ship EmailPhone: 1-415-349-0058, Toll Free: 1-888-202-9519Address:201, Spear street, 1100City: San FranciscoState: CaliforniaCountry: SwitzerlandWebsite: www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-evaluation/healthcare-cyber-protection-market


    India- Healthcare Cyber Security Market Projected to Reach $10.85 Billion By 2022: Grand View Research, Inc.

  • CrowdStrike vs Symantec: correct EDR solutions in comparison | killexams.com Real Questions and Pass4sure dumps

    Most recent products Articles

    Endpoint safety products from CrowdStrike and Symantec each made eSecurity Planet's record of properly conclusion aspect detection and response (EDR) solutions – and whereas each and every product has lots to present commercial enterprise purchasers, there are key modifications between them. What follows an analysis of each solution's key aspects, in addition to some strengths and weaknesses.

    The base line

    each options are rated particularly by clients as well as industry analysts. CrowdStrike's cloud structure makes deployment strangely quick and easy, though the incontrovertible fact that it be some distance less useful offline makes it unsuitable for air-gapped networks. Symantec offers each an on-premises solution and a cloud-primarily based one, featuring a much broader latitude of alternate options for consumers – nonetheless it's often seen as being more advanced to manage than its rivals.

    CrowdStrike EDR Highlights

    Overview: CrowdStrike Falcon perception leverages signatureless AI and indicator-of-attack (IOA) based chance prevention to protect users from all kinds of cyberattacks. Falcon offers contextualized threat intelligence with particulars on the chance, and a five-second search device enables teams to discover and examine current and historical risk undertaking with the aid of going again one 2nd, someday or three hundred and sixty five days of exercise. The solution’s cloud-primarily based structure is designed to supply quickly response without putting any stress on purchasers' endpoints.

    fresh developments: advancements over the past twelve months include:

  • a tool handle feature for visibility and management of USB contraptions
  • A Vulnerability assessment feature, choosing vulnerabilities and lacking updates on endpoints through automatically monitoring and examining patches on each gadget
  • Mapping of detection to a framework in accordance with MITRE ATT&CK to accelerate understanding, triage and response
  • real-time response movements
  • Docker aid, permitting the installing of the Falcon agent on hosts running the Docker container platform so the host can also be secured while valued clientele use Docker
  • expanded integration of the Falcon OverWatch managed detection and response carrier
  • https://o1.qnsr.com/log/p.gif?;n=203;c=204660769;s=9477;x=7936;f=201812281319310;u=j;z=TIMESTAMP;a=20394213;e=i

    Analysts' take: Gartner says the combination of Falcon OverWatch with Falcon perception EDR is primarily compelling for agencies with small or no SOC teams. The Falcon insight EDR agent provides parity throughout windows, Mac OS and Linux systems, and clients report fundamental and easy deployments, partially due to the answer's cloud structure. nonetheless, the research firm says Falcon's EDR functionality requires knowledgeable technical workforce to use, and its offline insurance policy is significantly more suitable when linked to the cloud-based Falcon platform, making it unsuitable for air-gapped (relaxed, isolated) networks.

    Symantec EDR Highlights

    Overview: Symantec EDR makes use of behavioral evaluation at the endpoint and AI-based analytics in the cloud to discover superior assaults. The answer offers a complete set of detection, investigation and remediation capabilities for all ranges of investigators, including automatic investigation playbooks and person behavior analytics. Incident responders can immediately search, establish and include impacted endpoints whereas investigating threats the usage of a choice of on-premises and cloud-primarily based sandboxing.

    recent traits: improvements over the ultimate one year encompass:

  • support for centered attack Analytics (TAA), leveraging AI algorithms to realize suspicious exercise and rising threats in Symantec Endpoint coverage information gathered and correlated in a large information lake
  • guide for MITRE ATT&CK tactics and strategies and MITRE Cyber Analytics, enabling investigators to go looking and filter events and incidents with the aid of MITRE ATT&CK strategies in order to map movements to the ATT&CK matrix
  • brought more than a dozen detections from the MITRE Cyber Analytics Repository (automobile) as automated investigation playbooks
  • Analysts' take: Gartner says Symantec is the first dealer to offer malware protection, EDR, gadget hardening and deception capabilities in a single agent, and its vast deployment across a really gigantic inhabitants of both buyer and enterprise endpoints offers it a very huge view into the possibility panorama throughout many verticals. still, the analysis company says Symantec is perceived as greater complex and resource-intensive to manage than its opponents, and its managed protection functions are extra costly than these from more recent suppliers.

    EDR Product scores

    here are eSecurity Planet's ratings of each and every answer's key features.

    performance: valued clientele of each companies record solid performance, with minimal have an effect on on endpoints. essentially the most fresh Forrester Wave file on EDR solutions gave CrowdStrike the maximum score of all EDR companies demonstrated – four.fifty six out of five – and gave Symantec a score of two.72 out of 5. The score is in accordance with more than a few criteria, together with configurability, agent effectiveness, forensic capabilities, deployment options and response movements.

    Detection and response: In contemporary trying out, Forrester rated CrowdStrike's detection capabilities at 4.8 out of 5, and its response capabilities at four.6 out of 5. Symantec's detection capabilities had been rated at 2.0 out of 5, and its response capabilities at four.2 out of 5. Symantec purchasers report better danger detection and containment with the addition of laptop discovering and different superior anti-malware features, Gartner mentioned.

    price: whereas CrowdStrike is greater expensive than many different solutions, cloud information storage and managed detection and response are blanketed. Symantec offers managed services, however those services are extra costly than these from other providers.

    Implementation and management: CrowdStrike's cloud structure makes deployment peculiarly effortless, anything clients many times cite in reports. Symantec offers both cloud-based and on-premises options, making it stronger appropriate for hybrid environments. both solutions require knowledgeable technical workforce to manipulate, although managed detection and response services are available.

    guide: Gartner says Symantec valued clientele document inconsistent assist experiences, even when tremendous organizations are offered with committed support personnel. nevertheless, some reviewers noted the identical of CrowdStrike's tech assist.

    Cloud features: both agencies present cloud-based options, however CrowdStrike's providing is only cloud-based, giving Symantec the part in hybrid environments.

    CrowdStrike vs Symantec 

    person stories

    Gartner Peer Insights users provide CrowdStrike Falcon a normal rating of 4.6 out of 5, with Symantec EDR following at a regular of 4.0 stars out of 5. IT primary Station clients supply CrowdStrike four.0 stars out of 5, and Symantec 4.1 out of 5.

    CrowdStrike reviewers time and again mentioned the product’s ease of deployment, calling it "quick and easy to install" and reporting that "the sensor is truly lightweight and has no longer been significant when working on even resource-limited computers." other reviewers wrote that "the hobbies administration of this solution is manageable," and that CrowdStrike has "a special proposition with their cloud-based approach as neatly because the analysis team."

    Symantec reviewers noted that "implementation became convenient." They referred to "quick whitelisting and blacklisting and informative reporting" as key merits, adding that the answer "has offered visibility insights that we have been no longer receiving from other products." an extra reviewer talked about the product "suits very neatly with our latest methods and approaches," calling it "a great product to offer protection to your atmosphere."

    study greater reviews written through clients of CrowdStrike and Symantec.


    The CrowdStrike Falcon platform is thoroughly cloud-based, permitting it to be deployed within hours, and helps windows, Mac and Linux methods.

    Symantec EDR offers cloud, on-premises and hybrid deployment fashions, and helps windows, Mac and Linux techniques.


    CrowdStrike Falcon insight is attainable for an annual subscription price per endpoint, with a free trial attainable. AWS provides some pricing data.

    Symantec EDR is priced per consumer per 12 months, with volume discounting. Trials can be found. CDW presents some pricing information.

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    Intel Skylake Z170 Motherboards: A Quick Look at 55+ New Products | killexams.com real questions and Pass4sure dumps

    Along with the launch of the two Skylake-K processors today, we also have a raft of new motherboards to go with them. The Skylake processors use the LGA 1151 socket (which is new) combined with the Z170 chipset, meaning every motherboard manufacturer has been developing and putting together a whole stack of products to meet different price points and demand. The Z170 chipset itself represents a large jump in terms of IO design, driven by the growing need for diversification and utility on modern platforms.

    In this piece we are going to look at both the Z170 chipset itself, the benefits that come along with using Z170, and then the motherboards that are set to launch equipped with it. Intel’s details about the chipset have been some of the briefest we have experienced in any recent Intel launch, although we have been able to piece together various aspects of the design from a number of sources. We have been promised more detail about the system during the Intel Developer Forum in mid-August, to which both Ryan and I will be attending and asking plenty of questions. A lot of the detail about Z170 in this piece is mirrored in our main Skylake review as well.

    For the motherboard information itself, this is the culmination of requests to the manufacturers who have mostly provided both pictures and specifications on the bulk of their ranges. Due to this launch being a couple of weeks earlier than the motherboard manufacturers expected (even from Computex), not everything is 100% ready to go today - as a result we are still awaiting MSRP details for a lot of the products, but they should be on the shelves if not today then in the next couple of weeks.

    This is the new diagram that yields a good amount of Z170 information:

    So to clear up any pre-release ‘leaks’ or guesses as to the configuration of the platform, we have sixteen PCIe 3.0 lanes coming from the processor which can be split into an x16, x8/x8 or x8/x4/x4 configuration. Motherboards that have x8/x4/x4 will only support dual-SLI in x8/x8 mode when the final x4 is unpopulated due to limitations placed on SLI by NVIDIA. The processor will support both DDR4 and DDR3L, whereby DDR3L is the 1.35 volt standard of DDR3 – no regular 1.5 volt DDR3 kits will be expected to work due to the high voltage. Motherboard manufacturers can choose to support DDR4, DDR3L, or a mixture of these two technologies. That being said we see DDR3L being used only on low-to-mid range products with the emphasis being placed on DDR4.

    The integrated graphics for the CPU is called Intel HD Graphics 530, which deviates from previous version of Intel’s naming scheme. Intel states that its 6th generation processor (Skylake) integrated graphics will use this new 3-digit naming scheme to reduce confusion. The HD Graphics 530, on both the i7-6700K and i7-6600K processors, is Intel’s GT2 variant of the Generation 9 graphics architecture with OpenCL 2.0 support and 24 Execution Units (EUs) running at a peak of 1150 MHz. Please refer to the main CPU article for more information.

    The processor is connected to the chipset by the four-lane DMI 3.0 interface. The DMI 3.0 protocol is an upgrade over the previous generation which used DMI 2.0 – this upgrade boosts the speed from 5.0 GT/s to 8.0 GT/s, but requires the motherboard traces between the CPU and chipset to be closer (7 inches rather than 8 inches) in order to maintain signal speed and integrity. This also allows one of the biggest upgrades to the system, chipset connectivity.

    The Z170 chipset features a massive Flex-IO hub. In the previous Z97 chipset, there are a total of 18 Flex-IO ports that can flip between PCIe lanes, USB 3.0 ports or SATA 6 Gbps ports. For Z170, this moves up to 26 and can be used in a variety of configurations:

    For each of the 26 high-speed input/output ports (HSIO, or the Flex-IO), there can be a variety of combinations available. Each manufacturer can run down the list and apply what they may or may not need – some of the extra functionality (e.g. GbE / Ethernet) will require extra controllers. By default, the first six HSIO ports are USB 3.0, with two able for super-speed interconnect where warranted. The next 20 HSIO ports are split into groups of four PCIe 3.0 lanes, such that each group is part of one of the internal controllers on the chipset.

    The HSIO allows a smörgåsbord of options, a variable pick-and-mix. The last three sets of four are also labelled Intel PCIe storage device – this is important because the new Z170 chipset now supports more PCIe devices as part of its Rapid Storage Technology (RST). This allows M.2 and SATA Express devices to be in RAID arrays as long as they are connected through these HSIO lanes. The new version of RST is given the number 14, and RST 14 supports three PCIe devices at one time. As a result, we will probably see motherboards with three M.2 slots all in PCIe 3.0 x4 mode, available for RAID. With that being said, we lose any extra SATA ports and have to rely on controllers elsewhere to do everything else. It is worth noting that the constant SATA ports on Z170 support DEVSLP modes.

    There will be several companion controllers to look out for on the Z170 motherboards. The most common we expect to see is the ASMedia ASM1142 controller, which is used to provide USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports. This controller uses two PCIe lanes to provide up to two USB 3.1 ports. This controller uses two PCIe lanes to provide up to two USB 3.1 ports, typically on the rear panel. We have reviewed this implementation on previous chipsets here and here. Typically the presence of the ASM1142 controller will increase the price of the motherboard by a small number of dollars – I suspect motherboard manufacturers are buying this in bulk for a number of future devices.

    The other way to place USB 3.1 on the motherboard is through Intel’s Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt controller.

    Using four PCIe lanes (and the DisplayPort lanes), the Alpine Ridge controller can support USB 3.1 Gen 2, Thunderbolt 3, and DisplayPort, and all over the USB Type-C connector as necessary. Alpine Ridge can also act as a LS-Pcon and convert the DP signal into a HDMI 2.0 signal with HDCP 2.2 support.

    As mentioned in GIGABYTE’s details above, the Alpine Ridge solution will add around $10 to the cost of the board, which probably translates near $20 to the end-user cost. It is our understanding that the increased speed of the Z170 launch means that there has been supply issues with Alpine Ridge controllers and that there will be more products coming out next month (September) from various manufacturers that will use the controller.

    The final controller we will see a lot of is Intel’s own gigabit Ethernet family, the I219 controller, named Jacksonville.

    As mentioned above, the I219-V is aimed at consumers while the I219-LM is for corporate/business although I imagine we will see a mix of both on a number of motherboards, especially at the high end. The I219 series comes with better power management, so when Skylake comes to more power-conscious platforms we should see some uptake there.

    I will also add that Realtek Ethernet solutions will also be seen on Z170 motherboards, typically as the cost effective solution. Back at Computex we also saw Realtek’s gaming network solution, the Dragon, with the codename 8118AS on some ECS models. Opposite that will be the Rivet Network’s Killer Ethernet controllers, specifically the E2400, as a gaming optimized model along with the marketing points that go along with it.

    Moving on to power arrangements on Z170 motherboards, with Skylake the situation changes as compared to Haswell. Prior to Haswell, voltage regulation was performed by the motherboard and the right voltages were then put into the processor. This was deemed inefficient for power consumption, and for the Haswell/Broadwell processors Intel decided to create a fully integrated voltage regulator (FIVR) in order to reduce motherboard cost and reduce power consumption. This had an unintended side-effect – while it was more efficient (good for mobile platforms), it also acted as a source of heat generation inside the CPU with high frequencies. As a result, overclocking was limited by temperatures and the quality of the FIVR led to a large variation in results. For Skylake on the desktop, the voltage regulation is moved back into the hands of the motherboard manufacturers. This should allow for cooler processors depending on how the silicon works, but it will result in slightly more expensive motherboards.

    A slight indication of this will be that some motherboards will go back to having a large amount of multiplexed phases on the motherboard, and it will allow some manufacturers to use this as a differentiating point, although the usefulness of such a design is sometimes questionable.

    There are some more esoteric properties of the Z170 chipset worth mentioning – the ball pitch of the grid array attaching the chipset to the motherboard has decreased from Z97, from 0.65mm to 0.50mm. The chipset now supports DMIC, digital microphone direct attach, allowing microphones to be plugged directly into the chipset without the need for an external codec. This has benefits in power saving (no need to activate an external codec) and potential cost savings (don’t buy an audio codec), specifically for features such as Wake-On-Voice.

    The analog (VGA) video connector has now been completely removed from the CPU/chipset combination, meaning that any VGA/D-Sub video connection has to be provided via an active digital/analog converter chip. This has been a long time coming, and is part of a previous committment made by Intel several years ago to remove VGA by 2015. Removing analog display functionality will mean added cost for legacy support in order to drive analog displays. Arguably this doesn’t mean much for Z170 as the high end platform is typically used with a discrete graphics card that has HDMI or DisplayPort, but we will see motherboards with VGA equipped in order to satisfy some regional markets with specific requirements.

    HDMI 2.0 is not supported by default, and only the following resolutions are possible on the three digital display controllers:

    A DP to HDMI 2.0 converter, specifically an LS-Pcon, is required to do the adjustments. We suspect that there will not be many takers buying a controller to do this, given the capabilities and added benefits of the Alpine Ridge controller.

    The power into the chipset is now provided by a single power rail, rather than separate core/suspend rails, which should simplify design. Some other restrictions are also placed on PCIe routing signals, bringing the maximum length down from 10-inches to 9-inches, and also M.2 routing in PCIe 3.0 mode is also reduced. We are also informed that PCIe flex cable/daughter card arrangements are limited to PCIe 2.0 mode.

    One big shock will be for Windows 7 users. By default, the Z170 chipset and BIOS will not support full USB 2.0 Enhanced Host Controller (EHCI) mode. This means that for a number of circumstances, USB devices will not work unless an XHCI environment in play.

    In our testing, this means that in order to install Windows 7 you need to do the following:

  • Navigate to BIOS
  • Enable ‘Windows 7 Installation’ or ‘EHCI mode’, Save and Exit.
  • Have your Windows 7 image on an optical disk. USB sticks will not work!
  • Install the OS as normal via the optical media. Install OS drivers/USB 3.0 drivers.
  • Disable the BIOS option.
  • This is done for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it helps reduce the size of the BIOS for more customization. It also aids moving users to AHCI capable operating system installations. For everyone else, it is a bit of a headache. As far as we can tell, almost all motherboard manufacturers (at least the Tier-1s) will have this option in the BIOS to enable Windows 7 installation.

    Z170 and the Skylake platform make a large number of fundamental changes when it comes to functionality, design and cost. By opening up the chipset HSIO/Flex-IO ports to twenty PCIe 3.0 lanes, even with specific limitations on a number of them, we should avoid the situation we had in Z97 where users might have three features but only two of them would work at once. Now we have enough lanes to enable them all.

    From a personal perspective, this allows for several esoteric designs. Because the chipset is limited as a maximum to PCIe 3.0 x4 per port, imagine the system having several quad-lane SATA controllers, each giving out eight SATA 6 Gbps ports. Combining those with port multipliers might allow each controller to double its ports. That means five controllers, each with eight SATA 6 Gbps ports, then doubled with port multipliers. A motherboard with 80 SATA ports, anyone?

    Perhaps I jest, but the limitation of what can be done now revolves around the imagination of the motherboard manufacturers and how much of a market is out there. They are all listening to what the customers want, and the more you want to buy the more of a say you can have. Leave interesting suggestions and combinations below.

    For users waiting on other chipsets than Z170, such as H170, Q150, B150 and H110 will have to wait until later in the year when Intel releases them. At this time, only Z170 is being launched.

    Finally, to throw a bit of a curveball in here, you will see motherboard manufacturers refer to USB 3.1 in different ways. Specifically, some manufacturers will refer to the new USB 3.1 ports as ‘USB 3.1 Gen 2’, giving 10 Gbps bandwidth, and the older USB 3.0 ports as ‘USB 3.1 Gen 1’ for 5 Gbps bandwidth. This just makes everything confusing for the buyer, and we aren't fond of these shenanigans.

    USB Standards Standard Max Speed Alt. Name USB 2.0 480Mbps High Speed USB 3.0 5Gbps SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 5Gbps SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps SuperSpeed+

    For the sake of simplicity, going forward we will be doing the following:

    USB 3.1 Gen 1 running at 5 Gbps will be referred to as USB 3.0USB 3.1 Gen 2 running at 10 Gbps will be referred to as to USB 3.1

    Although both Apple and MSI are using the Gen1/Gen2 terminology, we will keep it simple.

    Now we’ve gone through the platform in quick detail, here are the motherboards. Some of them we have complete information on, others have pictures snapped at various events prior to launch, and some are still to be finalised. At last count I have heard of at least 65 different Z170 models coming to market, differentiated by functionality, looks, software and implementation. In no particular order, here we go…

    The motherboard lines from ASRock fall into three categories: overclocking (OC Formula), mainstream channel (Extreme, Pro) and gaming (Fatal1ty Gaming). ASRock is also historically a motherboard manufacturer that likes to do things a little bit differently, trying out new combinations and designs regardless of widespread appeal. For the Z170 launch there are no serious surprises to begin with (like an Extreme11 with onboard LSI controller), but there are a few smaller form factor products in the mix.

    Motherboards with a + in the name will come with a bundled USB 3.1 front panel adaptor suited for USB Type-C. This connector uses a SATA Express port and a USB header to give a panel that uses the ASMedia ASM1142 controller to a USB 3.1-C and USB 3.1-A. To be honest, this is quite clever – SATA Express as a standard is practically dead as no products using it have ever been released. As a result, ASRock has repurposed it for USB 3.1 use, allowing USB 3.1 ports on the front of the PC – a nice idea.

    ASRock Z170 OC Formula

    The sole overclocking motherboard to begin with will be the OC Formula. Typically ASRock also launches a microATX version of this, but at this time we believe if one is coming, it may be coming out at a later date.

    The OC Formula will be an 8-layer motherboard sporting sixteen power phases with four DDR4 memory slots supporting up to DDR4-3600 when overclocked. The motherboard looks set up for four-way graphics, although there is an apparent lack of a PLX chip. This suggests that the PCIe lane allocation from the GPU is x16 for single graphics and x8/x8 for dual graphics. The other two full-length PCIe slots, even from this image, look to have fewer electrical pins in them for PCIe 3.0 x4 connections from the chipset.

    In the middle of the PCIe lanes are three M.2 slots, and they all support PCIe 3.0 x4 from the chipset and it would seem to suggest that these are RST capable. If that is the case, that gives 12 lanes to M.2 and 8 lanes to PCIe slots, totalling up the 20 PCIe lanes of the chipset before we get to USB 3.1 controllers, networking support or the two extra PCIe 3.0 x1 slots onboard. This means that there is probably some limitation on the combination, or that one of the PCIe 3.0 x4 slots actually comes from the CPU, giving an x8/x4/x4 combination. My specification sheet lists quad-SLI support, although some manufacturers tend to use that to mean dual-GPU graphics cards such as the GTX 690 in two slots. 3-way CFX is also supported, although if these are PCIe 3.0 x4 slots from the chipset, I’m sure they can be used in CrossFire mode anyway.

    Audio is from an enhanced Realtek ALC1150 solution, giving the usual array of EMI shield, PCB separation, enhanced filter caps and others. Networking is from the Intel I219V, with a mini-PCIe slot above the first PCIe x16 slot for a WiFi card if needed. VGA output on this board is provided only by HDMI 1.4b and DP 1.2, with the focus of this board on discrete graphics. There’s a USB port sticking out on the right hand side next to two USB 3.0 headers and another few ports on the rear. There is an ASMedia ASM1142 in play, giving a USB 3.1-A and USB 3.1-C on the rear panel. Storage is given by the aforementioned three M.2 slots, ten SATA 6 Gbps ports and three SATA Express capable arrangements. It will be interesting to see the block diagram when this board hits the shelves.

    ASRock Z170 Gaming K6+ ($200) / Z170 Gaming K6 ($185)

    The Gaming K6 and K6+ differ only by the bundled USB 3.1 panel, but at the time of launch are ASRock’s high end gaming motherboards. Four DDR4-3600 capable slots are paired with an x8/x4/x4 arrangement in the PCIe slots and a single M.2 slot running in PCIe 3.0 mode. Video outputs come from a DVI-D port, a HDMI 1.4b port and a DisplayPort 1.2.

    Much simpler than the OC Formula, we get a pair of SATA Express ports (with the K6+, one can be used with the USB 3.1 front panel), eight SATA 6 Gbps ports and eight USB 3.0 ports split between a header, five rear ports and a Fatal1ty Mouse Port for older operating systems. The ASMedia ASM1142 is here as well, giving USB 3.1-A and USB 3.1-C ports on the rear panel.

    The Z170 Gaming K6 is designed to be the decendent of the Z97X Killer, ASRock’s high end gaming model for Z97. As part of that Gaming brand, it will come with the new Killer E2400 network chip to optimize gaming traffic and the enhanced Realtek ALC1150 audio solution under Purity Sound 3.

    ASRock Z170 Gaming K4 ($146)

    The Gaming K4 is the lower cost gaming model in the line, reducing the board width dimensions and migrating the SATA ports to coming directly out of the motherboard. Support for four modules of DDR4-3500 is paired with an x16 or x8/x8 arrangement for graphics and a single M.2 running at PCIe 3.0 x4 mode.

    By the looks of it, this motherboard might not have SLI certification, helping keep costs down but aiming more for the single NVIDIA or dual AMD user. Audio and networking match that of the K6 by having an enhanced Realtek ALC1150 solution paired with the new Killer E2400 network interface.

    The rear panel is less abundant than the others as well, featuring only a DVI-D and HDMI 1.4b for audio as well as six USB 3.0 ports. There is no USB 3.1 here – the Type-C port you see on the rear IO is actually USB 3.0 only, similar to that on a Macbook.

    ASRock Z170 Extreme7+ ($240)

    The model from ASRock that we received for review at launch is the Z170 Extreme7+, showcasing the high end of their mainstream (aka ‘channel’) line of motherboards.

    The Extreme7+ will only be sold as a plus version, meaning that each board will come with that USB 3.1 front panel. The design of the Extreme7+ is also a little different to several of the others. The 12-phase power delivery and four slots of DDR4-3600 are normal enough, but the PCIe layout needs a bit of explaining. The top full length slot is x16, which is then followed by a PCIe 3.0 x4 from the chipset. Then we get a PCIe 3.0 x8 from the CPU, and then a PCIe 3.0 x4 from the CPU as well. This technically gives an x8/x4/x4 arrangement from the processor, but with that chipset based slot in the middle between the main x8/x8, we can get a two-card SLI configuration plus another full length single slot device between them without breaking SLI.

    To add something else into the mix, we again have three M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 ports between the PCIe slots and a half-size mini-PCIe slot for a WiFi card. Storage, aside from the M.2, comes from ten SATA 6 Gbps ports which incorporates three SATA Express ports as well – one of which we can use with the USB 3.1 front panel bundled. If you look closely at the image above, one of these SATA Express ports sticks out of the board.

    For controllers, the Extreme7+ comes with dual networking in the form of an Intel I219-V and an Intel I211-AT, covering the modern Jacksonville controller and a cheaper model. The ASMedia ASM 1142 provides USB 3.1-A and USB 3.1C on the rear panel, and the system’s audio comes through the enhanced Realtek ALC1150 regime again. Elsewhere on the board we get a total of eight USB 3.0 ports (2 headers, 4 rear), eight USB 2.0 ports (3 headers, 2 rear), a COM port, TPM and onboard buttons.

    ASRock Z170 Extreme6+ ($195) / Z170 Extreme6 ($180)

    As we move down from the Extreme7, certain features will be stripped but we should see the same basic board each time. With the Extreme6/6+, the middle PCIe 3.0 x4 slot from the chipset has gone, and we are down to a single PCIe 3.0 based M.2 slot. Two of the SATA ports and subsequently a SATA Express is gone, specifically that odd one that was poking out of the motherboard. Only the I219-V network controller remains, but the audio is still the ALC1150 solution. USB 3.1 is still here with Type-A and Type-C connectors, although USB 2.0 has been ejected completely from the rear panel.

    ASRock’s goal with the Extreme6 is a more cost effective version of the Extreme platform while still having at least one of each of the higher class (M.2 x4, USB 3.1, I219-V) functionality.

    ASRock Z170 Extreme4+ ($174) / Z170 Extreme4 ($155)

    The Extreme4 goes down a notch again, with two fewer SATA ports, two fewer power phases and a reduction in validated DRAM frequency from DDR4-3600 to DDR4-3500. ASRock is billing the Extreme4 as the cheapest motherboard with both SLI and USB 3.1 support with the x8/x8 PCIe configuration as well as the ASMedia ASM1142 based USB 3.1-A and USB 3.1-C onboard.

    ASRock Z170 Pro4 ($118)

    The Pro line is designed to be ASRock’s more cost effective offerings. Here looks are less important, and fewer of the marketing tick-boxes are met in order to aim these products at specific low-cost build regions.

    The Pro4 is billed as ASRock’s main motherboard for Z170 in the ATX form factor, intersecting price and feature set. The PCIe 3.0 x8/x8 configuration is not SLI capable, but there is a PCIe 3.0 x4 based M.2 in the middle for the migration to M.2 boot SSDs. There are still six SATA 6 Gbps ports on board with two SATA Express capable combinations, and perhaps surprisingly networking comes from an Intel I219-V network controller. There is no USB 3.1 here, and audio uses the cheaper Realtek ALC892 codec with minor design enhancements.

    ASRock Z170 Pro4S ($105)

    The Pro4S takes the Pro4 and strips it completely of looks:

    The heatsinks are simpler, the chokes look simpler (probably the same), there is no rear IO cover, normal CPU caps are used and the audio solution converts down to a half-jack. We still have all the other features of the Pro4, namely an x8/x8 PCIe configuration, M.2 x4 in PCIe 3.0 mode, six SATA ports, an Intel I219-V network port and the ALC892 audio. The Pro4S will also be available in a mini-ITX model.

    ASRock Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac

    Everyone loves a mini-ITX gaming motherboard, right? Even if it says Fatal1ty?

    Mini-ITX boards are notorious for getting things right, but ASRock has had a go with this one to implement a number of features. Top of the list is probably USB 3.1, where we have both Type-C and Type-A ports on the rear panel. The rear panel also shows an 802.11ac 2T2R dual band WiFi connection, dual HDMI ports and a single DisplayPort. Other networking is from the Intel I219V, while the half-width audio block comes from the higher end ALC1150 codec. My specifications sheet says there is a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot on board, and by the looks of it we would probably find it on the rear as the half-sized mini-PCIe slot is occupied by the WiFi card. There is a total of six SATA 6 Gbps ports on board with a SATA Express as well, and we’re still in the realm of DDR4.

    ASRock Z170M Pro4S ($100)

    The Pro4S is designed to be the best cost/performance Z170 motherboard on the market, and the successor to the Z97M Anniversary – it does this by shedding a number of features. We are down to six-phase power with half-height heatsinks, a single PCIe 3.0 x16 from the chipset and no USB 3.1. We still get a PCIe 3.0 x4 based M.2 slot due to the number of free lanes from the chipset, but there are no SATA Express here and only six SATA 6 Gbps slots. Networking comes from the Intel I219-V codec while audio is still the ALC892 design. This board still aims for DDR4 it should be noted.

    ASRock Z170M-ITX/ac

    The solitary mini-ITX board from ASRock being announced publicly is the Z170M-ITX/AC. Not quite sure why they need an M in the name with the ITX being there, but it must be said the board isn’t necessarily built for style:

    I’m sure that this board is more aligned with the Pro motherboards than the Extreme motherboards, namely due to the lack of USB 3.1, but it does oddly enough have dual network ports in the form of an Intel I219-V and the Realtek RTL8111E as well as an 802.11ac 2T2R dual band solution included, sitting upright in the mini-PCIe slot. Audio is provided by the ALC892 codec and a total of four SATA 6 Gbps ports are found just past the DDR4 memory slots. These ports are somewhat annoying, meaning that locking cables will easily block out the last cable from being removed without removing all others first.  There is an mSATA slot on board as well, and it would seem to be on the rear similar to previous ASRock mini-ITX designs.

    The motherboard lines from ASUS have historically been divided into the channel models (-K, -A, -Pro, -Deluxe), the TUF models (Sabertooth, Gryphon), the gaming/overclocking models from the Republic of Gamers (Extreme, Ranger, Gene, Hero) and a couple of others for specific markets, such as the Workstation line. With Z170 we see the addition of a new line called Pro Gaming, which is a loose amalgamation of both the ROG and the channel lines for cost-sensitive markets. As part of the Z170 line, we also see ASUS taking advantage of its 802.11ac tri-stream licencing on some models, and what looks like a highly engineered Maximus VIII Extreme model.

    I’d like to point out that the images that were circulating around the internet claiming to be the ASUS Z170-Pro from Computex have been confirmed as duds on the basis that it was merely a Z97 Pro motherboard, X99 heatsinks, DDR3 memory and a sticker on it that said ‘Z170-Pro’. ASUS did this in order to not give away any of its Z170 plans in advance. We pointed the fake motherboard out on the podcast in order to confuse certain aspects of tech media (and it did), but it goes to show that examining a board a little can go a long way to actually determining what is going on.

    ASUS Z170-A

    The Z170-A motherboard is the one we have received from ASUS to review, and our sources tell us that this is a board aimed at the $165 end of the market and thus fits in below the usual $200-battleground. ASUS has put emphasis on style over the last few generations, adjusting and changing the design with a variety of opinions as to the course. The X99-Deluxe in black and white has been one of the best received ASUS designs in recent memory, and thus ASUS has decided to expand on it with the main channel motherboards for Z170.

    The Z170-A attempts to go for a bit of everything here. The design gives four DDR4-3400 slots with a PCIe 3.0 x8/x8 design from the CPU, with the last PCIe slot being four PCIe 3.0 lanes from the chipset and sharing bandwidth with two of the SATA ports. For storage we get six SATA ports, two of which are part of the SATA Express connector, and a PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot that also supports SATA mode. Networking comes from the Intel I219-V controller while audio is from the Realtek ALC892 codec under the Crystal Sound 3 EMI shield.

    The rear panel sports all four video connectors which will be somewhat of a rarer design, and also a pair of USB 3.1 ports from an ASMedia ASM1142 controller – here we get one Type-A and one Type-C just below the network port. A number of ASUS features normally reside in the extra non-trivial functionality on the board, such as a TPU (Turbo Processing Unit) for overclocking and an EPU (Energy Processing Unit) as well as dedicated liquid cooler pump headers and full DC/PWM fan header control support. ASUS has also provided iterative updates to its software and BIOS functionality, bringing features such as Secure Erase and GPU Post from previous higher end models more into the mid-range.

    ASUS Z170-Deluxe

    The Z170-Deluxe is a large step one up the list from the Z170-A, focusing a lot on connectable devices and coming in at an MSRP of $320, making it one of the more expensive Z170 options and eerily into X99 territory. From the rear panel shot above, we have a total of six USB 3.1 ports, five of which are Type-A and one is Type-C, and these all come from three ASMedia ASM1142 controllers using the PCIe 3.0 lanes from the chipset. These are combined with the tri-stream 802.11ac dual-band WiFi, which is still the best WiFi solution (in terms of theoretical throughput) you can currently get integrated onto a motherboard. To complete the rear panel, cabled networking comes from the I219-V and I211-AT controllers and the audio is ASUS’s enhanced Realtek ALC1150 solution with EMI shields, PCB separation, filter caps, amplifiers and a new power noise filter.

    As for the main motherboard design, we get more heatsinks due to the beefier memory over the Z170-A, and not to be confused there is not a PLX chip under that heatsink. This means there is only sixteen PCIe 3.0 lanes from the CPU to play with, which ASUS puts out in x8/x8 mode, leaving the final slot as a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot from the chipset. This allows users to have two-way SLI along with another card in the final slot but drops three-way Crossfire support direct from the CPU (3-way CFX should still be possible with the chipset based PCIe slot however).

    On this price of motherboard, it expected to get power/reset buttons and a two-digit debug display but we also get a fan extension header if a user buys the fan add-in board separately. Storage comes from eight SATA 6 Gbps ports, with two being part of the SATA Express port and two via an ASM1061 controller. There is also a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot below the chipset heatsink as well, next to the EZ XMP switch which should help users enable the extreme memory profile of their memory. In the motherboard box should also be bundled a Hyper Kit, allowing the M.2 slot to also act as a U.2 connection when users have U.2 capable SSDs.

    ASUS Z170-WS

    At this point in time, we do not have much information regarding the workstation line from ASUS except the single picture above and that the WS model is currently not ready for prime time but will hit the market at a slightly later date with full information to come. If the picture above is accurate, it would seem that this WS model is right up there at the high end with what looks like an integrated PLX chip to enable quad-SLI mode using the CPU PCIe 3.0 lanes. (We come to this conclusion given that the four PCIe slots support x8/x8/x8/x8.) 

    Elsewhere on the motherboard worth noting as a U.2 connector attached directly to the side of the motherboard where the SATA connectors usually go. This is a development I have been suggesting since the launch of the Intel SSD 750, and I expect to see it slowly replace the near-useless SATA Express ports we are currently seeing on most motherboards. Alongside the U.2, it would seem that the WS will also support two M.2 slots in PCIe 3.0 mode. I would imagine that these storage options are all located on the RST capable ports of the Flex IO hub on the chipset.

    From the rear panel we have a pair of video outputs in the HDMI and DisplayPort with two USB 3.1 ports, although no mention of what is driving them – it could either be the ASM1142 but as this is the high end workstation board, I would not rule out an appearance from the Alpine Ridge controller either.  More information on the WS model when we get it.

    ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming

    The Pro Gaming line from ASUS is new, trying to find a middle ground between users who are cost-conscious but want some of the features found on the Republic of Gamers range. This usually means a focus on the internet café style of gaming, and I am told by ASUS that these models are mostly likely going to be region focused so you might not find them everywhere in the world. At this moment in time we have heard of two Pro Gaming models coming to market, although we have substantially more info on the bigger ATX version:

    The big one is set to launch with an MSRP of $160, which actually comes within five dollars of the Z170-Pro and should be an interesting counterpart given the focus here on the gaming aspects of the design. This means red and black, because apparently all gaming is red and black, with SupremeFX audio (enhanced Realtek ALC1150 plus special software) and an Intel networking port. Gaming support is via the x16 or x8/x8 configuration of the PCIe lanes, with the final PCIe slot being a PCIe 3.0 x4 for the chipset. This arrangement allows two-way SLI configurations while simultaneously using the bottom slot for another PCIe card.

    The Pro Gaming ATX model comes with USB 3.1-A and USB 3.1-C on the rear panel from an ASMedia ASM1142 controller, with storage in the form of an M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 slot, six SATA 6 Gbps ports and a SATA Express port. Networking is via the Intel I219-V controller, although ASUS has most likely bundled the software package with network prioritization software to enhance gaming throughput.

    ASUS Z170i Pro Gaming

    The Mini-ITX version of the board is designed to distil the bigger model down into a 17cm square design, and according to the specification lists I have will feature all the support of the one above but with an 802.11ac 2T2R WiFi module installed but lacking the ability for multi-GPU gaming. There are also two fewer SATA ports, but my specification sheet still lists the board as supporting an M.2 slot in PCIe 3.0 x4 mode.

    Before launch, the following image was doing the rounds on social media and other technology websites:

    As far as we know, this image shows the four main motherboard models for ROG this chipset for launch. Normally the ROG line also incorporates the Formula and the Impact, however if they are coming then we might see them later this year, but at this point the Ranger and Hero are designed to fill in the lower cost brackets, the Gene in the smaller form factor segment and the Extreme for the high end.

    ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme (M8E)

    The Maximus VIII (eight) Extreme is designed to be sat at the top of the ROG stack, incorporating a lot of the high end features we might expect on a Z170 motherboard and following in the theme of catering for both gamers and extreme overclockers alike. For now, this is the only proper image we have of the board – it would seem that ASUS is not ready to release it at this time, but it is coming and these are the features we should expect on it.

    The extended heatsink around the power delivery is there to do its regular job of moving heat away, but I can confirm here that this is not hiding a PLX chip for the PCIe lanes. The power delivery is designed to be enhanced to take care of whatever extreme overclockers throw at it, and in previous generations most sub-zero overclockers float towards boards like the Extreme as a result. On the high level features, the PCIe slots are arranged to give x16, x8/x8 or x8/x4/x4 from the processor and another PCIe 3.0 x4 from the chipset which will afford two card SLI and four card CFX modes. Extra power for the PCIe slots is provided by the molex at the bottom of the board.

    For overclocking there is an OC zone in the top right, featuring what looks like voltage points, an LN2 switch, PCIe disable switches, voltage read points and a myriad of buttons for various options. There is also a Pro Clock IC in the middle of the board which, as far as I understand, allows a finer granularity when it comes to CPU frequency adjustments. The Chipset heatsink has an embedded RGB LED in the name of style, and sits above a PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot.

    Aside from the M.2 slot, storage comes from eight SATA 6 Gbps ports, four ports of which take part in the two SATA Express ports, and we get the U.2 connector as we saw on the WS model on the previous page. On the left hand side of the board, the gaming section of the audience get an upgraded SupremeFX audio solution with an integrated DAC, de-pop relay, suitable headphone output ranges and all the usual stuff that goes into an enhanced ALC1150 design. Networking comes via the Intel I219-V controller, and four USB 3.1 ports are present in the form of three 3.1-A and a single 3.1-C.

    Pricing and exact release of the Extreme is still to be announced.

    ASUS Maximus VIII Gene (M8G)

    The Gene is ASUS’s micro-ATX gaming option, and I’m glad we get one here given that X99 went without. When the board goes smaller, it gets slightly more difficult to fit everything on, and compared to the Extreme it is safe to say that the other motherboards in the line focus a little more on gaming but come with as many overclocking utilities as possible as well. Hardware-wise we have support for x16 or x8/x8 graphics combinations, the SupremeFX audio solution and the Intel I219-V network controller. USB 3.1 comes via the usual A+C combination, which I’m sure at this point after writing about 20-odd motherboards is going to become the standard on any board that has USB 3.1.

    The chipset heatsink has an embedded red LED in it, and sits next to the six SATA 6 Gbps ports which also house two SATA Express ports. We also get the M.2 slot in the middle of the board, supporting PCIe 3.0 x4.

    ASUS Maximus VIII Hero (M8H)

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    The Hero sits above the Ranger and arguably acts as the ‘Gene in ATX’ form below what is commonly the Formula model. This means a similar set of characteristics to the Gene, such as the PCIe arrangement, USB 3.1, networking and video outputs. The Hero goes above the Gene in the sense that we get an RGB LED in the chipset heatsink, two extra SATA ports to play with and the extended shield across the audio and rear panel in order to enhance the aesthetic.

    ASUS Maximus VIII Ranger (M8R)

    The Ranger fills in at the bottom of the ROG stack, but still comes with a number of important features. If anything, it seems to mirror the Hero without the large rear panel shield, use a different style of power delivery chokes and comes without an RGB LED in the chipset. Avid onlookers will notice the adjustment of the reset button to a simpler design and two fewer SATA ports as well.

    Followers of the motherboard industry will recognize that MSI has been on a gaming binge as of late. Almost everything out of MSI that ends in the hands of general consumers is in some way part of the Gaming brand, and each generation it seems to grow and grow. MSI’s take on Z170 also exhibits some major changes, wherein almost every motherboard has ‘gaming’ in the title. It would also seem that the OC Certified line of overclocking motherboards from MSI has been merged into the Gaming brand, so what was once the XPower now becomes the XPower Gaming Titanium Edition. MSI is also changing up the styling a little as well, experimenting with different colors and a wide range of RGB applications on several models.

    MSI Z170A Gaming M9 ACK

    At the top of the line sits the M9 ACK. MSI’s Gaming number scheme is going to confuse a number of people because in this instance, M does not mean micro-ATX as it does on other models. MSI is merely using it to differentiate between other manufacturers that also use the ‘Gaming’ nomenclature by implying that this M is for ‘Master’. But the ACK part of the name refers to the use of a Killer E2400 network port with the Killer 1535 802.11ac 2T2R dual band WiFi, both of which can be used in tandem for directing prioritized network traffic selected in software and promoting UDP transfers.

    The Gaming M9 ACK takes things a little differently to the normal motherboard implementation. The power delivery heatsink doubles up as an air and water cooling solution whereby the user fits their barbs into the block. The PCIe layout also shows these two silvery bits over the slots – these are meant to be slot protectors. According to some manufacturers, slots have been destroyed when putting in heavy graphics cards and then transporting the system (in one case, we saw images which referred to TSA breaking a system in order to look at suspicious parts because they didn’t lnow how to take out the graphics cards). The purpose of these ‘steel armor’, or so MSI calls it, is to prevent the PCIe slots warping in this instance.

    The PCIe layout gives x8/x8 arrangement in the steel slots with a PCIe 3.0 x4 in the middle which seems to come from the chipset. Above both of the steel slots is an M.2 slot in PCIe 3.0 x4 mode which both act as the storage hub alongside six SATA 6 Gbps ports and two SATA Express ports. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the three single PCIe 3.0 x1 slots on the board are all open ended, allowing for larger PCIe cards when needed.

    The nib on the bottom right of the front of the motherboard should also be pointed out. Previously MSI used the term ‘OC Genie’ to refer to their one-button automatic overclock system. After years of requests, MSI has finally upgraded it to a multi-stage overclocking utility, this time using a twist dial that sequentially raises the CPU frequency and voltage. In fact, this one goes up to 11 – literally.

    The rear panel shows the dual stream Killer WiFi along with a gaming port, a BIOS Flashblack slot, a USB 3.1-A, a USB 3.1-C and video outputs via the Displayport and HDMI. It’s worth noting here that the USB 3.0 ports and the USB 3.1 ports are both red, making it somewhat confusing. To make matters worse, MSI uses the USB 3.1 Gen1/2 terminology on its datasheets – to clarify, ‘USB 3.1 Gen 1’ is technically USB 3.0 whereas ‘Gen 2’ is actually USB 3.1.

    The M9 ACK is meant to be the flagship motherboard for covering MSI’s new audio relationship with Nahimic audio. As a result this means we get an upgraded CMedia CM6632 audio processor solution paired with an ‘Xtreme Audio DAC’. I’m sure when the board comes out we will see exactly what that means, but it’s worth noting that the EMI covering over the audio segment of the motherboard goes quite far down and around the bottom. This is because the M9 ACK comes with a rear stiffened panel to help with motherboard rigidity:

    I am told that the MSI Gaming M9 ACK will have a UK MSRP of £320. Take away tax and convert to USD gives $415, making it one of the most expensive Z170 motherboards.

    MSI Z170A Gaming M7

    We’ve had the Gaming M7 in for testing for over a week, despite initially getting what seemed like a dodgy sample that was more an early defect than anything serious. But the styling goes forth and continues with the MSI Gaming dragon and rear IO panel cover. Similar to the M9 ACK we get two active PCIe slots and another PCIe 3.0 x4 from the chipset.

    The M.2 slots here are almost a headache to work out, but basically one is M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 enabled and the other is SATA only, except when a SATA M.2 is used it will disable a pair of SATA ports on the board. This method could have been made simpler by just using four lanes from the chipset on each of the M.2 slots, but this is the direction MSI decided to use.

    The Gaming M7 also comes with the Killer E2400 NIC, but this time the regular Realtek ALC 1150 audio solution is used. USB 3.1-A and 3.1-C ports are on the rear, but similarly to the M9 they are colored red and match the USB 3.0 ports. Current pricing puts the M7 at £180 in the UK, which translates as $230 stateside.

    MSI Z170A Gaming M5

    Moving though down the M5 and more features get exchanged for simpler implementations. The rear panel cover is gone and we are reduced from two HDMI ports with a DP to a HDMI/DVI-D combination. USB 3.1-A and 3.1-C are still here and provided by the ASMedia ASM1142, with the Killer E2400/Realtek ALC1150 combo still in play. The auto-overclock dial is now cone too, along with power/reset buttons. Other users will notice the power delivery has been dialed back as well, but the M.2 combination implementation is still present.

    The M5 should have an MSRP of £150/$195.

    MSI Z170A Gaming M3

    The Gaming M3 is the current bottom of the Gaming Master line. Here we have a single PCIe 3.0 x16 paired with a PCIe 3.0 x4 from the chipset which gives CrossFire support only when using two discrete cards. The network solution is still the Killer E2400, and we still have a single PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot above the PCIe slots. USB 3.1 is moved to two Type-A slots, with no Type-C here. Users will note the use of PCI slots, supplied by an ASMedia bridge chip for legacy applications. Yes, some users/companies still have expensive hardware that requires PCI control.

    MSI Z170A Gaming Pro

    The Pro, despite the name, is one of the cheapest MSI Gaming based motherboards coming between the M3 and the M5. Here you will notice a strip down the right hand side and slightly different styled heatsinks – this is because the Pro is engineered for MSI’s ‘Mystic Light’. This is a fancy marketing name for LED lighting on the right hand side which promises 16.5 million color resolution, 8 LED effects and for it all to be controllable via an application.

    Other functionality is given as x8/x8 PCIe configurations for SLI, although our documentation is not clear if that final PCIe slot is x4 from the CPU or the chipset which could have repercussions for SLI when the final slot is in use. Networking on this model is given by the Intel I219-V network controller, audio via the Realtek ALC1150 and two USB 3.1 Type-A ports on the rear panel from an ASMedia ASM1142.

    MSI Z170A XPower Gaming Titanium Edition

    Everyone remembers when MSI’s overclocking range of motherboards were yellow, right? Well how about if they turned a silvery gleam? Welcome to Skylake, because MSI has you covered.

    The XPower Gaming Titanium Edition (XPGT for short) is one of those products trying to break new areas of aesthetics. Some will like it, some will not – as far as we can tell, the design itself has little effect on actual levels of performance, but this is an XPower part of the line-up, meaning it is MSI’s more overclocking (and extreme overclocking) focused model. As a result, and to go with the name, the power delivery uses many Titanium chokes, we get a potential 4-way CrossFire using CPU and PCH lanes, and the OC panel has changed a fair bit.

    The OC Dashboard is designed to attach to the motherboard in the top right and give the OC buttons needed, such as power/reset, base frequency/multiplier adjustments, a full system reset, fast boot and a slow mode switch. For users that don’t need it, it should be able to be left off.

    Along with the matching steel armor on the PCIe slots we get two M.2 slots which according to my schematics can both be used in PCIe 3.0 x4 mode at the same time, although each one will lose you two SATA ports. It seems slightly odd that these are all made dependent when Z170 has enough chipset lanes to go around, but this is what MSI has done.

    USB 3.1 on the rear panel comes in the form of two Type-A ports from the ASMedia ASM1142 controller, while networking duties are form the Intel I219-V and audio is an enhanced Realtek ALC1150 solution.

    Pricing for the XPGT is set for £240, or $310 in the US.

    MSI Z170A Krait Gaming

    The Krait line from MSI initially started as just a simple white on black theme, but then somehow developed a following, a snake head logo and now gets merged into MSI’s Gaming line like everything else. Typically the Krait name is reserved for a cheaper ATX motherboard that supports SLI, and here we have that without USB 3.1 and only two video outputs. There is an M.2 slot that runs in PCIe 3.0 x4 mode, as well as an Intel I219-V network controller and a Realtek ALC1150 audio codec.

    Pricing for the Z170 Krait Gaming should come in at £125/$162.

    MSI Z170A-G45 Gaming – image from TechPowerUp

    The Z170A-G45 Gaming is actually a minor variant on the Gaming M5 with a slightly different arrangement for the voltage read points and a single USB 3.1-C rather than two USB 3.1-A ports. The G45 version also seems to have a VGA on the rear panel, but apart from that it looks pretty much the same from a design standpoint.

    The M5 was set around $195, so I’d imagine this to be similar.

    MSI Z170A-G43

    We saw the Z170A-G43 at Computex, which (like the G45 seems) to be a slight variant from the Gaming M line. This time the G43 seems to align with the M3 with a slightly different SATA arrangement, a different aesthetic, and I’d imagine given the design it should be using either the Intel I219-V or the Realtek network ports. Similar to the previous board, the G45 also seems to be equipped with a VGA port but similar to the M3, this board does not seem to support SLI giving a single PCIe 3.0 x16 from the CPU and then a PCIe 3.0 x4 from the chipset.

    MSI Z170A PC Mate

    MSI’s PC Mate line is a little bit of an oddball here, not being given the Gaming name. That is because it sits more in that internet café style of system or bulk office ATX design. This means separate PS/2 connectors on the rear panel, the three most common VGA outputs, a single M.2 x4 slot, two USB 3.1-A ports on the rear (the ones on the right), a basic audio codec (looks like ALC892) and a Realtek network controller. The PC Mate motherboard, despite being in the Z170 level of motherboards, is more designed to make a non-overclocking CPU happy with a set of basic functionality to satisfy users who don’t actually own the PC they are working on.

    As with most mainstream chipset launches, GIGABYTE is giving the market a thick coating in every price band to suit the needs of as many users as possible. We have information on 18 distinct GIGABYTE models coming to market, and know of several more we cannot talk about yet. Having spoken to GIGABYTE in recent years, their goal is clear – some markets around the world have different focal points. This means that some might reject anything with a VGA port, or that micro-ATX with two DRAM slots is a must. Whatever you need, GIGABYTE wants to provide it. All this being said, not all models end up in all markets – some are specifically targeted for certain regions as a result. For some models of GIGABYTE motherboards, certain regions will be part of a Heroes of the Storm bundling deal with extra in-game benefits.

    GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming G1 - MSRP $499

    Sitting at the top of the Gaming line is the G1, trying to cater by providing as much of everything on the motherboard as possible. After moving away from the previous green style of gaming, GIGABYTE has combined the red/black of other gaming brands and added in a large amount of white with angled accents and a distinctive font.

    There are many things to cover here. Firstly, the Gaming G1 seems to be using what looks like a 16+4+2 phase power delivery making it one of the largest VRM packages on sale for Z170. Given GIGABYTE’s past, I would assume that these are designs from International Rectifier, which do not come cheap but can provide 50A/60A depending on the exact model used. Over that power delivery is the combination heatsink arrangement, stretching over the motherboard but also has a combined air/water cooling pipe as well to allow for both types of cooling. The heatsink connector in the middle is covering a PLX chip which allows four-way SLI in the PCIe slots with x8/x8/x8/x8 support. As mentioned in the EVGA coverage, this is a more expensive chip than that used on Z77 due to the new owners.

    The PCIe slots have metal shielding, and I would imagine that MSI and GIGABYTE will contest who came up with the idea first. There are major parallels between GIGABYTE and MSI’s high end boards this year - both have PCIe shields, both have air/water combination cooling, both have RGB LED implementations and separate space for RGB LEDs, both are using Killer combination networking and both are using non-standard audio. Here on the Gaming G1, GIGABYTE is using the Creative Sound Blaster ZxRi solution with a Burr-Brown 127 dB DAC and three user-upgradable OP-AMPs along with the regular upgraded design on the high end stuff.

    For USB 3.1, GIGABYTE would seem to have an initial exclusive of Intel’s Alpine Ridge controller. This is a four-lane PCIe controller that supports full speed on two USB 3.1 ports as well as Power Delivery 2.0 support (up to 36W) on Type-C connectors. For the G1, we get a Type-A and a Type-C here. With HDMI 2.0 support through Alpine Ridge, we’re at a bit of a conundrum here – on the board in white letters it explicitly states HDMI 2.0, but none of the marketing materials from GIGABYTE I have actually use it in any as a marketable point. So we’re unsure if it is indeed HDMI 2.0 capable, what standard, if this is via the AR controller or if this is a separate LS-Pcon. Then again, this is a motherboard designed for discrete gaming cards rather than integrated graphics.

    Edit: We can confirm that HDMI 2.0 is via a separate LS-PCon, although it will need a future firmware update before it can be used.

    On the networking side, GIGABYTE pairs two Killer network ports with a Killer 802.11ac 2T2R dual band WiFi module as part of Killer’s ‘DoubleShot X3 Pro’ branding. Similar to other multi-Killer solutions, the branding here is to funnel certain types of web traffic down different connections.

    Storage is supplied by two M.2 slots between the PCIe connectors, both of which run at PCIe 3.0 x4 and Intel RST for RAID modes. Along with this, there are ten SATA ports as well as three SATA Express connectors, although it would seem that SATA Express is dead in the water. The usual other GIGABYTE features apply such as DualBIOS, a water-pump fan header, and new to the G1 is the G-Connector to aid with those awkward front panel connectors.

    Some users might remember that for Z97, GIGABYTE introduced its ambient LED for the rear panel shield. For Z170 this moves onto the heatsink arrangement and some of the board separation traces, allowing several different RGB modes and colors. For users who just want a PC rather than a light show, it can all be switched off as well.

    With a PLX chip, Alpine Ridge, all those power phases and extra options, the Gaming G1 will sit at the top of GIGABYTE’s product stack, if not top of them all. $500 is a lot for Z170.

    GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming GT - MSRP $299

    The GT scales back a number of features from the G1, namely the LEDs section near the DRAM slots, the PLX chip, the new Creative codec and the combination air/water cooling arrangement. We still have most of the power delivery as well as the Alpine Ridge controller giving Type-A and Type-C ports for USB 3.1 on the rear, the Killer networking (only one, with Intel I219V as well) and the previous high-end Creative audio solution. For audio, the upgraded philosophy still remains also, including replaceable OP-AMPs and DAC-UP USB ports.

    For PCIe arrangements, GIGABYTE has used the standard PCIe 3.0 x8/x4/x4 arrangment which affords dual-SLI and tri-CrossFire, although placing a card in the bottom slot will disable SLI due to NVIDIA’s 8-lane requirement per card.  There is still an RGB element to the heatsink similar to the G1, and storage comes through dual M.2 x4 slots and eight SATA ports.

    GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7 - MSRP $219

    The Gaming 7 returns to a numbering system to represent features, and for all intents and purposes this is a near carbon copy of the GT but using a different power delivery system with what seems like the 60A IR chokes and a fewer number of phases overall. There are also fewer user adjustable switches for features on the bottom, but the main ones are still present.

    GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 5 - MSRP $170

    The Gaming 5 ditches the rear IO cover and dials down the audio to the more common Realtek ALC1150 upgraded solution. Power delivery arrangements seem similar to the Gaming 7, although the heatsink design has been changed due to that rear panel. We still have two network ports, one Killer and one Intel I219-V, and the USB 3.1 ports are here still being provided by the Intel controller. There is no marking of HDMI 2.0 support, suggesting that it has been removed to meet the price point. Dual M.2 x4 slots and six SATA ports for storage are present, as well as x8/x4/x4 lane arrangements for graphics cards.

    GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 3 - MSRP - $160

    The Gaming 3 moves to a single Killer network port, and brings back DVI-D/VGA connectors to the rear panel due to only having six USB ports there. GIGABYTE has stuck with the triple-SATA Express implementation, this time flanked by six SATA ports and slightly less styling on the heatsinks. The Gaming 3 typically aims for that market where tri-Crossfire still can play a role on a motherboard in a more cost-conscious bracket.

    GIGABYTE Z170X-SOC Force

    We’ve tracked GIGABYTE’s overclocking motherboards over the years, and interviewed motherboard product manager Jackson Hsu at the height of the Z87X-SOC launch when they were selling SOC motherboards quicker than they could be made. GIGABYTE tends to make anywhere from one to three overclocking models, including an ‘everything’ board and a ‘stripped’ version for extreme overclockers. At this point, the ‘everything’ board is the one being focused on.

    We don’t have much information about the SOC Force at this time, but it is clear that the Force and the G1 are both aiming for the high end of their markets respectively. Similar to the G1 the power delivery heatsink is an air/water combination that stretches around the board. The SOC Force also has a 16+4+2 phase power arrangement, and under that second heatsink is also a PLX chip to allow for four-way SLI with x8/x8/x8/x8. The PCIe slots are also shielded to prevent damage, and between the slots are four separate M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 slots.

    The SOC Force as a whole moves into the E-ATX form factor, expanding to the right due to the OC Panel next to the DRAM slots. In an update to the design, rather than the previous array of buttons on the PCB they now have a cover with a large number of options beside it still. These options are for the extreme overclocking crowd, and no doubt GIGABYTE will be trying to challenge for records for the longevity of the platform.

    The expanded PCB helps other features to fit on, such as the 8 SATA ports with the tri-SATA Express arrangement similar to the Gaming motherboards. For USB 3.1, the SOC Force has a Type-C and a Type-A on the rear panel, though at this time it is unclear if we are using the ASMedia ASM1142 or the Intel Alpine Ridge controller. The network controller is the Intel I219-V, escaping the clutches of the Killer line.

    GIGABYTE has previously loved to play in the cheap overclocking space for mainstream platforms, and although we don’t have any information on a sub-$200 product coming, I would be surprised if one was not in the works.

    GIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 - MSRP $190

    GIGABYTE’s regular home-build motherboards form the Ultra Durable line, coming with a designation from UD3 to UD9. At this point in time only the UD3 and UD5 have been announced, and both look more like run-of-the-mill motherboards compared to their gaming counterparts. The styling is less garish with fewer custom LEDs or loud colors. That being said, both of them have similar hardware arrangements to the gaming line with the gaming parts replaced.

    As a result, the UD5 here has a double Intel network solution, an enhanced Realtek ALC1150 audio orientation and standard three-way graphics support via x8/x4/x4. The PCIe shields are here by virtue of their use in actually supporting the PCIe slot rather than a gaming function. GIGABYTE is still using the Alpine Ridge controller for the USB 3.1 ports, here giving a USB 3.1-C and a single USB 3.1-A. There is no HDMI 2.0 on the UD5.

    Storage comes via eight SATA ports, three SATA Express ports and the two M.2 slots in the middle of the board that run at full PCIe 3.0 x4 bandwidth. Given the UD5’s positioning, we might see it being bundled with an M.2 to U.2 converter – or if a UD7 comes out later, it might be added there.

    GIGABYTE Z170X-UD3 - MSRP $165

    The UD3 removes the PCIe metal shielding and dials down the heatsink styling again to a more reserved black and slightly gold look. We move down to a single network port, two fewer SATA ports and replace the DisplayPort with a VGA connector, but keep dual M.2 slots, the Alpine Ridge based USB 3.1 A+C combination and an x8/x4/x4 PCIe arrangement. The audio is also still GIGABYTE’s upgraded Realtek ALC1150 solution.


    There also tends to be a model at the bottom of the Ultra Durable stack specifically for SLI. While not called ‘UD’ by name, the Z170XP-SLI carries the branding:

    The Z170XP-SLI is the UD3 with even less styling on the power delivery, namely because the power delivery is dialed back for fewer phases. One of the internal PCIe 3.0 x1 slots also changes to a PCI slot by way of a bridge chip. This also seems to be the point where GIGABYTE changes to the ASMedia ASM1142 controller for USB 3.1 ports, and providing the A+C combination as before.

    GIGABYTE Z170-D3H ($115) / Z170-HD3 ($115) / Z170-HD3P ($125)

    The rest of the channel line we have information on focuses on the ‘3’ part of the product line, and as such aims for base functionality of the chipset with a few added extras with each name suggesting a different added feature that the others do not have. In this case, the D3H has an upgraded audio and Intel network controller while the other two have Realtek, and the HD3 is the one without USB 3.1 from the ASMedia controller. All three of these boards have a single PCIe 3.0 x16 and typically an x1 or x4 from the chipset, meaning that SLI will not work on them.

    GIGABYTE Z170MX-Gaming 5

    Moving back to the gaming line and we get a couple of models in smaller form factors. The MX naming here implies a micro-ATX design.

    Here we get what is technically an x8/x4/x4 arrangement, although two-way graphics solutions will typically block the third slot. The PCIe slots get the metal shielding, but due to the lack of space the M.2 slot is now between the PCIe and the chipset – this M.2 runs at PCIe 3.0 x4 for full bandwidth. The styling on the motherboard is similar to that seen on the Gaming 3, which means no rear panel cover but the red/black/white motifs are still present on the heatsinks.

    The Alpine Ridge controller is in play here for the USB 3.1 A+C port combinations on the rear panel, while networking duties are through the gaming-focused Killer E2400 network controller. Realtek provides the ALC1150 audio in GIGABYTE’s enhanced solution, with an upgradable OP-AMP as part of the design.  Storage extends from the M.2 mentioned before to six SATA 6 Gbps ports that are split into pairs for the three SATA Express configurations.

    GIGABYTE Z170N-Gaming 5

    Marching into the mini-ITX arena for the gaming range is the Z170N-Gaming 5, with a heatsink/heatpipe arrangement that looks a little different than normal. The power delivery is adjusted too as a result. Functionality here by virtue of the small size extends to a Killer network port as well as the Intel 802.11ac 2T2R dual band AC-8260, Intel’s 3rd generation AC adapter which also supports Bluetooth 4.2. For such a small motherboard we also get the Alpine Ridge controller providing the usual USB 3.1 A+C combination, and it’s worth noting that the power connectors are on the outside of the motherboard which should make it easier to install than some previous GIGABYTE motherboards.

    GIGABYTE Z170M-D3H - MSRP ($115)

    The Z170M-D3H is aimed at being just the micro-ATX version of the Z170-D3H, with the focus being a few added features over the regular chipset integration. Surprisingly we get a pair of PCI ports from a bridge chip here, but the PCIe slots are given by a PCIe 3.0 x16 from the CPU and a PCIe 3.0 x4 from the chipset. Another four PCH lanes go to the M.2 slot in the middle, with six SATA ports / three SATA Express ports also included in the storage aspect of the motherboard. There is no USB 2.1 here, relying purely on USB 3.0. Networking uses the Intel I219-V and audio from the Realtek solution.


    The Z170N-WIFI follows a line of N-WIFI boards from GIGABYTE that has gone back several generations. The aim here is to make something that fits in similar to the Z170N-Gaming 5 but under that on the Ultra Durable line and that costs a little bit less. So while there are no power delivery heatsinks to speak of there are dual Intel I219-V network ports as well as the Intel AC-8260 dual band wireless card. Audio is an upgraded relatek solution and an ASMedia controller gives USB 3.1 A+C. GIGABYTE historically gives this board dual HDMI ports, and we get them here in 1.4b form. 

    When you mention a consumer motherboard, the name Supermicro does not shout loud from the rooftops. Supermicro is more commonly associated in the server industry with a large chunk of market share for providing enterprise platforms that power a number of industries and government departments. Technically they have had consumer motherboard products now for a couple of years, sticking with a low number of models to test the waters. Supermicro relies more on the name of the brand and the engineer expertise in the server space to carry their product forward. For Z170, they have informed me that at this point two models are in the works although there are some final decisions to be made particularly about coloring and style, so the following pictures may not represent final product.

    Supermicro C7Z170-SQ

    The SQ is the ATX model, with Supermicro using the red and black color scheme of other Gaming lines to apply it to their own brand.

    Here is what looks like a mid-range motherboard sporting an x8/x4/x4 PCIe 3.0 layout in red with x4/x1/x1 in the other black slots from the chipset. The PCIe layout is slightly different to other mainstream boards by virtue of the M.2 slot above them which operates in PCIe 3.0 x4 mode. Because of the arrangement, it means we have a sub-optimal PCIe card placement for dual GPU setups, whereby the top two red PCIe lanes are used which does not leave a ventilation gap which is usually important in a consumer design.

    In terms of hardware support, we get six SATA ports, a single USB 3.1 Type-C port on the rear panel due to an ASMedia ASM1142 controller, an Intel I219-V network port and a Realtek ALC1150 audio solution. Unlike some other boards we get a couple of server features, such as TPM and SATA DOM, as well as all five fan headers on board being 4-pin. It will be interesting to see how Supermicro has developed its BIOS and software especially in light of the stiff competition of the regular consumer motherboard manufacturers in this area

    Supermicro C7Z170-M

    The M is for micro-ATX, and it looks like Supermicro is aiming at something more for the cost conscious user here:

    For graphics there is a single PCIe 3.0 x16 slot and no second slot like other micro-ATX motherboards for a second card. Instead we get a fixed with PCIe 3.0 x4 slot and a PCIe x1 slot for good measure. Other functionality is similar to that of the full sized motherboard with six SATA ports, an Intel I219-V for network, a Realtek ALC1150 audio codec and an M.2 slot running in PCIe 3.0 x4 mode. Where the micro-ATX differs is in the power delivery heatsinks and this time the USB 3.1 capabilities have shifted from a single Type-C to two Type-A ports.

    At this point pricing for these boards is unknown but a sample of the C7Z170-SQ just came in through the door. We will be testing it in due course.

    Over the past few generations of EVGA motherboards, one of the goals has been to emulate the success they achieved during the X58 motherboard era. At that time, the motherboards were highly praised for their overclocking prowess for what was (and still is) a relatively small motherboard manufacturer. EVGA’s historic strengths lie in their legions of fans and a typical expectation that in most of their big markets, they will field the warranty issues rather than the retailer. Z170, like the others, brings on the EVGA wind in the three regular segments.

    EVGA Z170 Classified

    Aimed at the pure high end, the EVGA Classified might be the most expensive Z170 board on the market. Here they have used a single PLX 8747 chip under that middle heatsink to provide x8/x8/x8/x8 bandwidth to the PCIe slots. Using a PLX 8747 chip on a mid-range motherboard is not new, it was all the rage back in Z77, but what makes it different here is that the company that manufactures the chip has changed hands and now focuses on the enterprise market. As a result, the costs of such a chip are seemingly doubled overnight, making it an unenticing prospect for the consumer market. Nonetheless, EVGA is aiming for an overclocking motherboard with Quad-SLI support and here it is.

    Alongside the extensive heatsink configuration to aid both the power delivery and that PLX chip, EVGA equips the board with dual network controllers (I219-V and I210-AT), a Creative Sound Core3D audio solution, two USB 3.1-A ports on the rear panel, an M.2 slot running in PCIe 3.0 x4 mode, seven 4-pin PWM fan headers, triple BIOS support, EZ voltage read points and the onboard readout will output the temperature when in the operating system.

    EVGA Z170 FTW

    The FTW follows a similar design pattern to the classified in terms of hardware layout, but reduces it all down into a more cost effective market. As a result the PLX chip is gone, the power delivery heatsink arrangement is reduced, a number of the OC features are lifted off and other connectivity is reduced. The single network port is an Intel I219-V, there is no USB 3.1 and we have the base six SATA ports from the chipset. We still keep the M.2 based off of the PCIe 3.0 x4 bandwidth, but the PCIe slots only support up to x8/x4/x4 with the final slot being an x1. This seems a little odd, given how many PICe lanes the chipset can use.

    EVGA Z170 Stinger

    The Stinger is the mini-ITX solution, keeping the line alive after several generations. Taking on board previous comments, the power connectors are now on the outside of the DRAM slots or at the top of the motherboard, along with the important front panel connectors. There seems to be enough space around the CPU slot for larger air coolers, although the SATA connector placement will be a nightmare when locking cables and large PCIe cards are used. EVGA does list the Stinger as having a 10-layer PCB, which might make it one of the mini-ITX motherboards with the most layers, although this just makes the design of the board easier and pushes up cost. Similar to the FTW, we don’t get USB 3.1 on this model with only an Intel I219-V network port and Realtek audio. 

    Despite rumors of ECS leaving the motherboard market first being widespread, refuted and then that refutation ignored, we are in constant contact with the team at ECS USA and they were more than happy to discuss a few of their upcoming motherboards for the Z170 chipset. ECS’ fortunes in the consumer motherboard market is actually to the tune of several million a year, but above the base cheap designs in Asia there has been not so much of a push into North America or Europe. For the couple of years ECS has been introducing its’ L33T (‘leet’) brand for gaming, although the nuance might be wearing a bit thin for some as the naming might not necessarily gel with anyone over 14. Nonetheless, the ECS Z170 motherboards came to our attention at Computex due to their use of the new Realtek Dragon 8118AS network controller which aims to compete in the same space as the Rivet Network’s Killer offering for gaming and network traffic prioritization.

    ECS Z170 Claymore

    At the front is the ATX offering, called the Claymore. Unfortunately not in Scots colors, but the general black theme I am told is so that the Claymore can integrate more easily into many different builds. Aside from the Realtek Dragon 8118AS network controller, ECS goes all out with the PCIe slots offering a combination of x8/x4/x4 from the CPU as well as a couple of others from the chipset – these are mostly likely x1 or x4, or may share bandwidth.

    In the middle of the PCIe slots is an M.2 port, although for some reason this only supports M.2 in PCIe 2.0 x2 mode for PCIe based storage. Given how many lanes are available on the Z170 chipset, it makes me wonder why it is not using a full PCIe 3.0 x4. Nevertheless we also get six SATA ports with two bundled with a SATA Express port. Audio comes from the Realtek ALC1150, and USB 3.1-A ports on the rear panel are from an ASMedia ASM1142 controller.

    Perhaps surprising here, but ECS is listing the Claymore as supporting HDMI 2.0. This means, because there isn’t an Alpine Ridge controller onboard, that they are using an LS-Pcon in order to do so and are the only ones who are doing it as far as I can tell. I am doubly confirming as this is being written.

    ECS Z170-Blade

    Despite seeing the Blade at Computex, ECS is not too ready to give details on how the board will look when launched because it is still begin decided. Nonetheless, a good micro-ATX motherboard is always respected, and the Blade will also carry the Dragon Ethernet part alongside USB 3.1.

    ECS Z170IU-C43 – Image from 4gamer.net

    For the low end of the market, ECS is providing the Z170IU-C43 – a mini-ITX motherboard with a somewhat odd design arrangement. Here the 24-pin ATX connector is at the edge of the board, but due to the CPU and chipset arrangement the 8-pin CPU connector is in no-mans land to the bottom left of the socket. This means that with a GPU in play this connector is very hard to get to and means that cables will be all over the chassis. It’s a design point that all the motherboard manufacturers have had to contend with at some point.

    ECS is stating again that we have HDMI 2.0 connectivity on this board, while other functions include the Intel I219-V based networking, the Realtek ALC892 codec for audio, two USB 3.1-A ports on the rear panel and a single PCIe 3.0 x16 slot.

    The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Review - Matching TITAN X at $650 | killexams.com real questions and Pass4sure dumps

    Even though the GTX 980 Ti doesn't offer any new features compared to the GTX Titan X with the same GM200 GPU behind it, NVIDIA did touch base with us on a few topics of interest; updating me on the current news and hype surrounding DX12's new features, some potential improvements to VR rendering with something called multi-res shading and updates to the G-Sync monitor ecosystem.

    Some News on DirectX 12

    First up, let's talk about DirectX 12. As we near the release of Windows 10 this summer you'll hear more about DX12 than you could ever imagine, with Intel, AMD and NVIDIA all banging the drum loud and clear. At this point, not everything can be divulged but NVIDIA wanted to be sure we understood that there were two very different aspects of the DX12 story: better CPU utilizing and efficiency along with new features that require new hardware. We have all heard the stories (ours included) talking about the backwards compatibility of DX12 for currently shipping GPUs, but that only accounts for the improved CPU utilization and efficiency portions of DX12. While that is critically important, there are indeed new features that require new GPU hardware to take advantage of, just like in all previous DirectX releases.

    In terms of new features, there are currently two different feature levels: Feature Level 12.0 and Feature Level 12.1. Feature level 12.0 supports new rendering technologies like tiled resources, bindless textures and typed UAV access. 12.1 is more advanced and includes the 12.0 features but adds conservative raster and raster ordered views.

    NVIDIA says that GM200 supports another feature as well: volume tiled resources. This additional feature brings support for 3D textures to be used in the tiled resource capability, utilizing less memory by only storing the specific tiles of textures required for rendering at that time. The tiled resources feature listed as a requirement for Feature Level 12.0 only needs to support 2D textures. With a 3D texture though a developer has the ability to store an additional dimension of data; NVIDIA gave an example of smoke where the third dimension of texture might indicate the pressure of the fluid, changing the color and response of the physics based on that 3rd dimension of data.

    Conservative raster improves pixel coverage determination moving away from specific sample points and instead will register as covered if any portion of the pixel is covered by the geometry in question. This does come with some kind of performance penalty, of course, but it has the ability to improve coverage recognition for better image quality with new rendering techniques. NVIDIA gave the example of ray traced shadows that are free of aliasing image quality issues.

    There is a still lot yet to be shown or discussed about DX12 but we can confirm now that Maxwell will support DirectX 12 Feature Level 12.1 as well as the volume tiled resources capability. I'm sure we'll hear AMD's side of this story very soon as well and hopefully some news from Microsoft this summer will help us better understand the overall direction of the API.

    GameWorks VR

    Released previously with the initial sale date of the GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970, NVIDIA's collection of software and hardware technologies focused on VR is now being branded GameWorks VR. Many of the technologies have been discussed before including VR SLI, Direct Mode and Front Buffer Rendering, but NVIDIA is introducing a new option to improve VR performance called Multi-res Shading.

    To understand it, a quick-and-dirty back story: A VR headset includes a screen and a pair of lenses. The lenses are used to make the screen appear to be further in the distance to help users properly focus on the image. Those lenses warp the image slightly, making the center of the image larger and compresses it around the edges to produce a fish-eye style effect and a wide viewing angle. To account for this optical warping, the display renders a fish-eye looking image of its own - one you have probably seen if you've looked at any footage recorded from an Oculus Rift. The rendered image is "warped" by the optical lens so that it appears correct to the end user.

    The problem is that warping of the image in the rendering engine means that resolution is effectively lost around the edges of the screen. Though the middle retains a near 1:1 pixel ratio, the edges do not and you can tell from the diagrams below that much of the pixel data is lost when the image is "warped" and "compressed" to fit the required shape for the VR displays. This makes the rendering of VR games less efficient than rendering for traditional 2D monitors and displays, a disadvantage that can have negative side effects in a computing platform that requires the fastest possible performance and lowest available latency.

    NVIDIA's solution is Multi-res Shading that can divide the image that the game engine wants to display into nine different viewports.  The center viewport, the one the user will 99% of the time be focused on and the one without lost pixels to the warping, remains the same resolution and maintains the detail required for a great gaming experience. However, the surrounding viewports can be adjusted and sized to more closely match the final warped resolution that they will display at in the VR headset. The image still has to go through a final warp to the correct shape for the VR lens but the amount of data "lost" along the edges is minimized and thus performance can be improved for the gamer.

    Maxwell GPUs have a multi-projection capability built into them that accelerates the distribution of geometry to the different viewports in Multi-res Shading and NVIDIA claims it can offer a 1.3x - 2.0x improvement in pixel shader performance (not frame rates necessarily). This kind of projection can be adjusted with different levels of detail so that developers have the ability to decide how much lower the resolution rendered becomes based on their performance goals and image quality requirements. I saw of demo of the technology at work during our GTX 980 Ti briefing and even when specifically looking on the periphery for the lower resolution and detail level along the edges of the render, it was nearly impossible to spot the difference. 

    This is a technology that requires game engine implementation, so don't go thinking you'll be able to just flip a checkmark in the control panel for this. It will be packaged up in the GameWorks SDK and we'll keep an eye out for game engines and developers that attempt to integrate to measure performance gains and image quality for ourselves.

    G-Sync Updates: New Monitors and Overdrive Details

    I think anyone reading this review or someone that frequents PC Perspective will already know the basics of G-Sync and what it adds to the smoothness of PC gaming. It's definitive, it's dramatic and it's available now in several different variations. 

    One area that has seen a lot of debate recently between G-Sync and AMD's FreeSync competition is in the area of overdrive. When Allyn and I first tested the initial wave of FreeSync monitors to make their way to office we immediately noticed some distinctive ghosting on the screens when operating in the variable refresh modes of the monitors. At the time, very little was known about overdrive with variable refresh displays and though I knew that NVIDIA was doing something with G-Sync to help with ghosting, I didn't know exactly what or to what extent. During our briefing with Tom Petersen on the GTX 980 Ti, he was able to share some more details.

    At its most basic, monitor overdrive is the process of asking a pixel to go to a higher or lower voltage value than you actually need for what is being presented on the screen in order to get that pixel to your desired power level (color and brightness), faster. This helps move pixels from their previous color/brightness to the new color/brightness you want them to be at more quickly, thus reducing ghosting. With traditional monitors and fixed refresh rates, panel vendors had perfected the ability to time the twisting and untwisting of LCD crystals to account for overdrive.

    But with variable refresh rates that all gets turned on its head; the rate at which you apply power to a pixel at a 40 Hz refresh is very different than at 80 Hz, for example, if you are trying to produce a picture without ghosting and without inverse ghosting. NVIDIA claims that because the G-Sync module in the desktop monitors is tuned specifically to each panel, it is able to dynamically apply overdrive based on the variable frame rate itself. Because the module knows and can estimate the time the next frame will appear (at the most basic level, guess whatever the previous frame time was) it can more intelligently apply voltage to the panel to reduce ghosting and give users the best possible picture. Petersen said that it appeared none of the FreeSync monitors were doing this and that is why we see more ghosting at variable refresh rates on those displays.

    With the NVIDIA 352.90 driver the company will also be adding a couple of requested features to G-Sync as well: windowed mode and V-Sync options above the displays maximum refresh rate. For those gamers that like to use windows mode and borderless windowed mode to play with other things going on on your display or even other monitors, NVIDIA has found a way to work with the DWM (desktop windows manager) to allow non-full-screen games to operate in a variable refresh mode. NVIDIA is likely doing some behind the scenes trickery to get this to work properly inside the Windows compositing engine, but we saw it in action and VRR operation is controlled by the application in focus. If you move from the game to a browser, for example, you'll essentially return to the static refresh rate provided by the windows display model.

    Two new options found there way into the control panel as well: G-Sync will now let you set V-Sync on or off above the maximum refresh rate of the panel (hurrah for peer pressure!) and you can now enable ULMB directly. This change to the V-Sync capability is only available at the high side of the monitor's refresh rate and will let a user disable V-Sync (and thus introduce horizontal tearing) in order to gain the biggest advantage possible with the lowest latency the system can muster. This basically matches what AMD has done with FreeSync though NVIDIA's G-Sync still has a superior implementation of low frame rate technology as we demonstrated here.

    Oh, and NVIDIA G-Sync Mobile is now a thing! Just as we showed you back in January with a leaked driver and an ASUS notebook, module-less G-Sync is a reality and will be shipping this summer. Check out this news story for more details on the mobile variant to G-Sync. 

    With those educational tidbits in mind, maybe more interesting is that new G-Sync monitors are incoming with new aspect ratios and different specifications than we have seen before.

    Acer has four new displays on the horizon with Asus adding three more to the mix. In that group are a pair of 4K IPS 60 Hz G-Sync monitors, a 34-in 3440x1440 IPS screen with a 75 Hz maximum refresh as well as an updated ROG Swift with a 2560x1440 resolution, 144 Hz IPS screen. I am really eager to get my hands on the Acer X34 with the curved 21:9 screen and 75 Hz refresh - that could be the pinnacle of gaming displays for the rest of 2015.

    Sources Sought Notice – R– Investment Knowledge Management Data Management | killexams.com real questions and Pass4sure dumps

    Notice Type: Sources Sought Notice

    Posted Date: 12-APR-17

    Office Address: Department of Veterans Affairs;Program Contracting Activity Central;6150 Oak Tree Blvd, Suite 300;Independence OH 44131

    Subject: R-- Investment Knowledge Management Data Management

    Classification Code: R - Professional, administrative, and management support services

    Solicitation Number: VA70117N0095

    Contact: Bernadette Bodzenta, Contract [email protected] mailto:[email protected]

    Description: Department of Veterans Affairs

    VA Office of Information Service Center

    Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Information Service Center

    Investment Knowledge Management

    Page 22 of 23



    Veterans Health Administration

    Office of Informatics and Investment Governance

    Strategic Investment Management (SIM)

    Investment Governance Services (IGS)

    Investment Knowledge Management (IKM)

    Date: 2/8/17

    PWS Version Number: 1.0


    1.0 BACKGROUND 18


    3.0 SCOPE OF WORK 21




    4.3 TRAVEL 22





    5.2 25














    The mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Office if Informatics and Information Governance (OIIG), Strategic Investment Management (SIM), Investment Governance Services (IGS) is to ensure that strategic requirements are identified, prioritized, organized, communicated, understood, and translated into Information Technology (IT) investment decisions that meet clinical, administrative, and Veteran s needs. IGS works collaboratively with OIIG, VHA, and VA Program Offices to conduct business analysis and investment governance/oversight to improve those IT investments and services provided to Veterans.

    To perform this role effectively, IGS relies on the Investment Knowledge Management (IKM) team to gather, process, and communicate data associated with IT investments needed by VHA business lines culminating in briefings and reports to senior leadership. IKM serves as the authoritative information resource center for VHA IT investments and provides a comprehensive view of VHA s IT needs across the System Development Lifecycle (SDLC) by gathering pertinent information and conducting all-source analyses, information and process management, and assessments of delivery and value to the customer. Key activities include:

    Planning, organizing, and carrying out major projects concerned with providing current and detailed information related to all IT initiatives of concern to VHA

    Developing analytical reports for Strategic Investment Management (SIM) leadership and VHA IT governance Capability Management Boards (CMB) containing information about VHA IT needs and integrating data pertaining to prioritization, funding, and project status

    Processing VHA IT governance requests to include receipt, management and disposition of requests in support of VHA senior leadership and the integrated governance entities (e.g., Information Technology Committee (ITC), Integration Board (IB), Architectural Requirements and Investments Working Group (ARIWG), CMBs, other)

    Assessing VHA business capabilities achieved through IT efforts and effectiveness of IT investment decisions

    Monitoring funded programs and identification and tracking of related issues

    Conducting Customer Satisfaction Questionnaires to obtain feedback regarding the value and quality of delivered VHA IT investments


    In the performance of the tasks associated with this Performance Work Statement, the Contractor shall comply with the following:

    44 U.S.C. '' 3541,-- Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002

    Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) Publication 140-2, Security Requirements For Cryptographic Modules

    FIPS Pub 201-2, Personal Identity Verification of Federal Employees and Contractors, August 2013

    10 U.S.C. '' 2224, "Defense Information Assurance Program"

    Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute, Capability Maturity Model-- Integration for Development (CMMI-DEV), Version 1.3 November 2010; and Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute, Capability Maturity Model-- Integration for Acquisition (CMMI-ACQ), Version 1.3 November 2010

    5 U.S.C. '' 552a, as amended, The Privacy Act of 1974

    42 U.S.C. '' 2000d Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

    VA Directive 0710, Personnel Security and Suitability Program, June 4, 2010, http://www.va.gov/vapubs/

    VA Handbook 0710, Personnel Security and Suitability Security Program, May 2, 2016, http://www.va.gov/vapubs

    VA Directive and Handbook 6102, Internet/Intranet Services, July 15, 2008

    36 C.F.R. Part 1194 Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards, July 1, 2003

    Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-130, Managing Federal Information as a Strategic Resource, July 28, 2016

    32 C.F.R. Part 199, Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS)

    An Introductory Resource Guide for Implementing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule, October 2008

    Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. '' 794d), as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-220), August 7, 1998

    Homeland Security Presidential Directive (12) (HSPD-12), August 27, 2004

    VA Directive 6500, Managing Information Security Risk: VA Information Security Program, September 20, 2012

    VA Handbook 6500, Risk Management Framework for VA Information Systems Tier 3: VA Information Security Program, March 10, 2015

    VA Handbook 6500.1, Electronic Media Sanitization, November 03, 2008

    VA Handbook 6500.2, Management of Breaches Involving Sensitive Personal Information (SPI) , October, 28, 2015

    VA Handbook 6500.3, Assessment, Authorization, And Continuous Monitoring Of VA Information Systems, February 3, 2014

    VA Handbook 6500.5, Incorporating Security and Privacy in System Development Lifecycle , March 22, 2010

    VA Handbook 6500.6, Contract Security, March 12, 2010

    VA Handbook 6500.8, Information System Contingency Planning , April 6, 2011

    OI&T ProPath Process Methodology (reference process maps at http://www.va.gov/PROPATH/Maps.asp and templates at http://www.va.gov/PROPATH/Templates.asp

    One-VA Technical Reference Model (TRM) (reference at http://www.va.gov/trm/TRMHomePage.asp)

    National Institute Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publications (SP)

    VA Directive 6508, Implementation of Privacy Threshold Analysis and Privacy Impact Assessment, October 15, 2014

    VA Handbook 6508.1, Procedures for Privacy Threshold Analysis and Privacy Impact Assessment, July 30, 2015

    VA Directive 6300, Records and Information Management, February 26, 2009

    VA Handbook, 6300.1, Records Management Procedures, March 24, 2010

    OMB Memorandum, Transition to IPv6 , September 28, 2010

    VA Directive 0735, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) Program, October 26, 2015

    VA Handbook 0735, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) Program, March 24, 2014

    OMB Memorandum M-06-18, Acquisition of Products and Services for Implementation of HSPD-12, June 30, 2006

    OMB Memorandum 05-24, Implementation of Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 12 Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors, August 5, 2005

    OMB memorandum M-11-11, Continued Implementation of Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 12 Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors, February 3, 2011

    OMB Memorandum, Guidance for Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 12 Implementation, May 23, 2008

    Federal Identity, Credential, and Access Management (FICAM) Roadmap and Implementation Guidance, December 2, 2011

    NIST SP 800-116, A Recommendation for the Use of Personal Identity Verification (PIV) Credentials in Physical Access Control Systems, November 20, 2008

    OMB Memorandum M-07-16, Safeguarding Against and Responding to the Breach of Personally Identifiable Information, May 22, 2007

    NIST SP 800-63-2, Electronic Authentication Guideline, August 2013

    NIST SP 800-157, Guidelines for Derived PIV Credentials, December 2014

    NIST SP 800-164, Guidelines on Hardware-Rooted Security in Mobile Devices (Draft), October 2012

    Draft National Institute of Standards and Technology Interagency Report (NISTIR) 7981 Mobile, PIV, and Authentication, March 2014

    VA Memorandum, VAIQ #7100147, Continued Implementation of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), April 29, 2011 (reference https://www.voa.va.gov/documentlistpublic.aspx NodeID=514)

    VA Memorandum, VAIQ # 7011145, VA Identity Management Policy, June 28, 2010 (reference Enterprise Architecture Section, PIV/IAM (reference https://www.voa.va.gov/documentlistpublic.aspx NodeID=514)

    IAM Identity Management Business Requirements Guidance document, May 2013, (reference Enterprise Architecture Section, PIV/IAM (reference https://www.voa.va.gov/documentlistpublic.aspx NodeID=514)

    Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) Reference Architecture Document, Version 2.0, Federal Interagency Technical Reference Architectures, Department of Homeland Security, October 1, 2013, https://www.fedramp.gov/files/2015/04/TIC_Ref_Arch_v2-0_2013.pdf

    OMB Memorandum M-08-05, Implementation of Trusted Internet Connections (TIC), November 20, 2007

    OMB Memorandum M-08-23, Securing the Federal Government s Domain Name System Infrastructure, August 22, 2008

    VA Memorandum, VAIQ #7497987, Compliance Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) IT Electronic Equipment, August 11, 2014 (reference Document Libraries, EPEAT/Green Purchasing Section, https://www.voa.va.gov/documentlistpublic.aspx NodeID=552)

    Sections 524 and 525 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, (Public Law 110 140), December 19, 2007

    Section 104 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, (Public Law 109 58), August 8, 2005

    Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade , dated March 19, 2015

    Executive Order 13221, Energy-Efficient Standby Power Devices, August 2, 2001

    VA Directive 0058, VA Green Purchasing Program , July 19, 2013

    VA Handbook 0058, VA Green Purchasing Program , July 19, 2013

    Office of Information Security (OIS) VAIQ #7424808 Memorandum, Remote Access , January 15, 2014, https://www.voa.va.gov/DocumentListPublic.aspx NodeId=28

    Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, 40 U.S.C. --11101 and --11103

    VA Memorandum, Implementation of Federal Personal Identity Verification (PIV) Credentials for Federal and Contractor Access to VA IT Systems , (VAIQ# 7614373) July 9, 2015, https://www.voa.va.gov/DocumentListPublic.aspx NodeId=28

    VA Memorandum Mandatory Use of PIV Multifactor Authentication to VA Information System (VAIQ# 7613595), June 30, 2015, https://www.voa.va.gov/DocumentListPublic.aspx NodeId=28

    VA Memorandum Mandatory Use of PIV Multifactor Authentication for Users with Elevated Privileges (VAIQ# 7613597), June 30, 2015; https://www.voa.va.gov/DocumentListPublic.aspx NodeId=28

    Veteran Focused Integration Process (VIP) Guide 1.0 , December, 2015, https://www.voa.va.gov/DocumentView.aspx DocumentID=4371

    VIP Release Process Guide , Version 1.4, May 2016, https://www.voa.va.gov/DocumentView.aspx DocumentID=4411

    POLARIS User Guide , Version 1.2, February 2016, https://www.voa.va.gov/DocumentView.aspx DocumentID=4412


    The Contractor shall provide the following service:

    IT Investment Governance Tracking, Analysis, and Reporting

    Data Management

    The Investment Governance Services (IGS), Investment Knowledge Management (IKM) team performs tracking, analysis, and reporting services for VA and VHA IT investments (includes portfolios, programs, projects, and products) across the life cycle of these investments (includes initiation through closeout/termination of an investment). IKM objectives include the following;

    Conduct tracking, data analysis, and reporting activities for VA and VHA IT investments

    Manage investment data

    There are hundreds of VA and VHA IT investments. A subset of these (on average 150 projects/products) is approved for funding each fiscal year. Fiscal year funded projects/products are tracked and monitored.

    The processes that support IT Governance tracking, analysis, reporting, and data management and related inputs and outputs (examples include forms, worksheets, briefs, reports, and databases) are established and relatively stable; processes, inputs, and outputs may be modified periodically as a result of review recommendations based on continuous improvement activities.

    VA and VHA IT Investments are largely proprietary. The Contractor shall provide personnel with extensive knowledge regarding the following areas: VA organizational structures, VHA medical centers and health care systems, VHA software applications, Veterans Information Systems Technical Architecture (VistA), VA ProPath processes, Office of Information & Technology (OI&T) Project Management Accountability System (PMAS) and Veteran-focused Integration Process (VIP), and OI&T Enterprise Program Manage Office (ePMO).

    IKM currently uses FileMaker Pro to manage investment data. VA is in the process of standardizing tools and OIT has determined that end users must transition from Desktop Database Management Systems (DBMS) such as FileMaker. VA has Enterprise License Agreements in place for preferred Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) technologies: Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle DB. As of July of 2016, desktop DBMS technologies may no longer be used to support line of business operations requiring data durability/persistence. IKM anticipates being required to transition to SQL Server in the near future. A waiver request has been submitted to continue to operate with FileMaker while transitioning to a SQL based data management and reporting system. The Contractor shall provide personnel with knowledge and experience in successfully changing database tools and data migration.

    Additionally, the Contractor shall provide personnel experienced in using the following software products: Microsoft Office; FileMaker Pro version 12, 14, and 15; SQL Server 2012; SharePoint and the Rational Tool Suite.



    The period of performance shall be one (1) year from date of award, with four (4) options for one (1) year each.

    Any work at the Government site shall not take place on Federal holidays or weekends unless directed by the Contracting Officer (CO).

    There are ten (10) Federal holidays set by law (USC Title 5 Section 6103) that VA follows:

    Under current definitions, four are set by date:

    New Year's Day January 1

    Independence Day July 4

    Veterans Day November 11

    Christmas Day December 25

    If any of the above falls on a Saturday, then Friday shall be observed as a holiday. Similarly, if one falls on a Sunday, then Monday shall be observed as a holiday.

    The other six are set by a day of the week and month:

    Martin Luther King's Birthday Third Monday in January

    Washington's Birthday Third Monday in February

    Memorial Day Last Monday in May

    Labor Day First Monday in September

    Columbus Day Second Monday in October

    Thanksgiving Fourth Thursday in November


    Tasks under this PWS shall be performed in VA facilities; the current location is:

    Strategic Investment Management

    490 L Enfant Plaza East, Suite 3202

    Washington D.C. 20024-2135

    Work may be performed at remote locations with prior approval of the Contracting Officer s Representative (COR).


    The Government anticipates travel under this PWS to perform the tasks associated with the effort, as well as to attend program-related meetings or conferences throughout the period of performance.-- The Contractor may be required to attend meetings in Washington, D.C., and/or other VA facilities.

    Local travel within a 50-mile radius from the VA Facility or an alternative approved remote location is considered the cost of doing business and will not be reimbursed. This includes travel, subsistence, and associated labor charges for travel time. Travel performed for personal convenience and daily travel to and from work at the Contractor s facility will not be reimbursed.

    Travel, subsistence, and associated labor charges for travel time for travel beyond a 50-mile radius of the Contractor s approved work location are authorized for reimbursement on a case-by-case basis and must be pre-approved by the Contracting Officer s Representative (COR). Travel costs will be a cost-reimbursable, not to exceed line item.

    The Government estimates the following travel for the one (1) year period of performance and four (4) option years.

    Base Year

    Estimated Destinations

    Approximate Number of trips

    Approximate Number of Contractor Personnel required per trip

    Approximate Number of days per trip

    Tampa, FL




    Option Year 1

    Estimated Destinations

    Approximate Number of trips

    Approximate Number of Contractor Personnel required per trip

    Approximate Number of days per trip

    Tampa, FL




    Option Year 2

    Estimated Destinations

    Approximate Number of trips

    Approximate Number of Contractor Personnel required per trip

    Approximate Number of days per trip

    Tampa, FL




    Option Year 3

    Estimated Destinations

    Approximate Number of trips

    Approximate Number of Contractor Personnel required per trip

    Approximate Number of days per trip

    Tampa, FL




    Option Year 4

    Estimated Destinations

    Approximate Number of trips

    Approximate Number of Contractor Personnel required per trip

    Approximate Number of days per trip

    Tampa, FL




    Travel shall be in accordance with the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) and requires advanced concurrence by the COR.-- Contractor travel within the local commuting area will not be reimbursed.


    The Contractor shall perform the following:



    The Contractor shall deliver a Contractor Project Management Plan (CPMP) that lays out the Contractor s approach, timeline and tools to be used in execution of the contract. --The CPMP should take the form of both a narrative and graphic format that displays the schedule, milestones, risks and resource support.----The CPMP shall also include how the Contractor shall coordinate and execute planned, routine, and ad hoc data collection reporting requests as identified within the PWS. The initial baseline CPMP shall be concurred upon and updated in accordance with Section B of the contract. The Contractor shall update and maintain the VA PM approved CPMP throughout the PoP.


    Contractor Project Management Plan


    The Contractor shall provide the Contracting Officer s Representative (COR) with monthly Progress Reports in electronic form in Microsoft Word and Project formats.-- The report shall include detailed instructions/explanations for each required data element, to ensure that data is accurate and consistent. These reports shall reflect data as of the last day of the preceding month.--

    The monthly Progress Reports shall cover all work completed during the reporting period and work planned for the subsequent reporting period.-- The report shall also identify any problems that arose and a description of how the problems were resolved.-- If problems have not been completely resolved, the Contractor shall provide an explanation including their plan and timeframe for resolving the issue. The Contractor shall monitor performance and report any deviations. It is expected that the Contractor will keep in communication with VA accordingly so that issues that arise are transparent to both parties to prevent escalation of outstanding issues.


    Monthly Progress Report


    On a daily basis the contractor shall implement the IKM Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)(see attachment 1); perform tracking, analysis, and reporting activities; participate in continuous improvement activities that support processes (includes inputs and outputs); Examples of IKM tracking, analysis, and reporting activities and related outcomes/deliverables include the following:

    VA and VHA IT Investment Tracking, Analysis, and Reporting

    Monitor and compare sources and identify the real and potential implications of those changes to VA and VHA IT Investments as described in the SOP (sources are subject to change but currently include: OI&T Quad Charts (focus on cost, performance, and risk); Budget Tracking Tool exports and Budget Operating Plans; Enterprise Project Structure (EPS) under VIP; Technical Systems Project Repository (TSPR); Multi-year Programming worksheets/data calls; VA and VHA IT Prioritization Lists; portfolio, program, project, and product information in Rational Tools; Health Systems Information Suite (HSIS) (contains investment data and is maintained by IKM) and Requirements and Development Management (RDM)/New Service Request Database (NSRD)

    Capture content and changes in appropriate media (examples: forms, worksheets, reports, briefings, and databases)

    Participate in prioritization activities (prioritization criteria are frequently impacted by changes to VA and VHA strategic goals and objectives) for VA and VHA IT Investments and incorporate prioritization results in HSIS

    Prepare and deliver various reports (current examples include: Everything List (includes info on all portfolios, programs, projects, and products); Stakeholder Lists (Chief Officers, Business Owners, Capability Management Boards, or other as requested); VHA IT Business Needs Bar Charts; Simple List and Active Project Report (both are subsets of Everything List); Continuous Prioritization Review (CPR) (also known as Unfunded Request (UFR)) List; VIP Interpretive Report; Fiscal Year Project Planning Reports; RDM/ NSRD Reports; Multi-year Program (MYP) planning worksheets/data calls, workbooks) as a result of tracking and analysis activities (See attachments 2-5)

    Coordinate input to Government Accountability Office (GAO) and/or Office of Inspector General (OIG) responses

    Attend meetings (estimate twice weekly team meetings of 1 hour duration and twice weekly customer meetings of one hour duration)

    Execute, maintain, and update the IKM SOP (includes continuous improvement activities)

    Log details and statuses of changes and actions in an Action Item List


    Weekly Tracking and Reporting Action Item List: The weekly Tracking and Reporting Action Item List shall reflect completion of all activities for Task 5.2 for each week and is due every Tuesday morning by 0900 am Eastern (or the following workday at 0900 am Eastern if Tuesday should be a holiday).

    5.3 MANAGE DATA:

    On a daily basis, perform activities to maintain, update, transition, and support data (includes multiple databases [FileMaker Pro 12, 14, and 15; SQL Server 2012], share drives, and SharePoint sites). Examples of daily activities and related outcomes/deliverables include the following:

    VHA IT Investment Data Management

    Maintain, modify (includes defect repairs and enhancements), and update databases (HSIS and related forms and reports (includes routine imports and exports of data to and from data sources and/or databases)

    Update databases with information and changes collected daily from VHA IT Investment tracking, analysis, and reporting activities

    Develop and deliver new scripts, queries, forms, and reports as required

    Provide help desk support to HSIS and Release Management (RM) database users {estimate number of users at 50 and frequency of requests at less than 5 weekly}

    Attend meetings (estimate twice weekly team meetings of 1 hour duration and twice weekly customer meetings of one hour duration)

    Maintain, modify, and update share drive

    Maintain, modify, and update mail groups and/or mail boxes and distribution lists

    Maintain, modify, and update 2 SharePoint sites (IKM and related areas on IGS)

    Log details and statuses of changes and actions regarding data management in an Action Item List


    Weekly Data Management Action Item List: The weekly Data Management Action Item List shall reflect completion of all activities under Task 5.3 for each week and is due every Tuesday morning by 0900 am Eastern (or the following workday at 0900 am Eastern if Tuesday should be a holiday).


    Perform activities necessary to transition data and reports from FileMaker Pro 12 to a database on Microsoft SQL Server 2012. The level of effort to perform this task is expected to be 24 months. Examples of activities and related outcomes/deliverables include the following:

    Identify opportunities for streamlining database to improve efficiency.

    Create necessary tables in the new database (Microsoft SQL Server 2012) to replace 211 tables in from the existing tables in the FileMaker Pro database.

    Migrate data from Filemaker Pro database tables to the new database tables in Microsoft SQL Server 2012 (See attachment 6)

    Prepare data for import into SQL solution

    Perform any data clean up/errors in the SQL solution

    Create necessary queries, forms, and reports in the new database and intranet user interface.


    Weekly Database Transition Action Item List: The weekly Database Transition Action Item List shall reflect completion of all activities under Task 5.4 for each week and is due every Tuesday morning by 0900 am Eastern (or the following workday at 0900 am Eastern if Tuesday should be a holiday).



    The Contractor shall support the VA enterprise management framework. In association with the framework, the Contractor shall comply with OI&T Technical Reference Model (One-VA TRM). One-VA TRM is one component within the overall Enterprise Architecture (EA) that establishes a common vocabulary and structure for describing the information technology used to develop, operate, and maintain enterprise applications. One-VA TRM includes the Standards Profile and Product List that collectively serves as a VA technology roadmap. Architecture, Strategy, and Design (ASD) has overall responsibility for the One-VA TRM.

    (For applications, software, or hardware that cannot support PIV authentication in accordance with the below language, the Requiring Activity must obtain a Risk Based Decision Memorandum, approved by the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Security, before this language can be removed or modified, in accordance with the approved Risk Based Decision.-- The RBD Standard Operating Procedures and the OIS RBD Template for a RBD can be found on the OIS website, and is located at https://vaww.portal2.va.gov/sites/infosecurity/ca/VA_6500_Waiver.aspx RootFolder=%2Fsites%2Finfosecurity%2Fca%2FVA%206500%20Waiver%20Process%20Templates%20Approved%20Waivers%2FOIS%20Risk%2Dbased%20Decision%20Information&FolderCTID=0x0120006BB145E9AADE234EA16516CF539A30E3&View={A172AFB9-D135-4F51-8587-9A789F292058}.-- Any questions shall be directed to Tom Napier, HSPD-12 Director at [email protected])

    The Contractor shall ensure Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) product(s), software configuration and customization, and/or new software are PIV-enabled by accepting HSPD-12 PIV credentials using VA Enterprise Technical Architecture (ETA), http://www.ea.oit.va.gov/VA_EA/VAEA_TechnicalArchitecture.asp, and VA Identity and Access Management (IAM) approved enterprise design and integration patterns, http://www.techstrategies.oit.va.gov/enterprise_dp.asp. --The Contractor shall ensure all Contractor delivered applications and systems are compliant with VA Identity Management Policy (VAIQ# 7011145), Continued Implementation of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (VAIQ#7100147), and VA IAM enterprise identity management requirements (IAM Identity Management Business Requirements Guidance document), located at https://www.voa.va.gov/documentlistpublic.aspx NodeID=514.-- The Contractor shall ensure all Contractor delivered applications and systems provide user authentication services compliant with NIST Special Publication 800-63, VA Handbook 6500 Appendix F, VA System Security Controls , and VA IAM enterprise requirements for direct, assertion based authentication, and/or trust based authentication, as determined by the design and integration patterns.-- Direct authentication at a minimum must include Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) based authentication supportive of Personal Identity Verification (PIV) and/or Common Access Card (CAC), as determined by the business need.-- Assertion based authentication must include a SAML implementation. Additional assertion implementations, besides the required SAML assertion, may be provided as long as they are compliant with NIST 800-63 guidelines. Trust based authentication must include authentication/account binding based on trusted HTTP headers.-- The Contractor solution shall conform to the specific Identity and Access Management PIV requirements are set forth in OMB Memoranda M-04-04 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/fy04/m04-04.pdf), M-05-24 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/fy2005/m05-24.pdf), M-11-11 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2011/m11-11.pdf), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 201-2,--and supporting NIST Special Publications.

    (Section 6.1, paragraph 3, below contains the requirement that all Contractor Solutions must support Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6)). If the requiring activity has obtained a signed waiver from the VA OI&T CIO office that the IPv6 requirement cannot be met due to patient safety, patient care, or other exception, then the following language ( A signed waiver has been obtained from the VA OI&T CIO Office that the IPv6 requirement cannot be met, and as a result, IPv6 is not a requirement for this effort. ), or similar, must replace the IPv6 paragraph 3 below. The requiring activity can modify the language above as necessary, in accordance with their specific requirements.)

    The Contractor solution shall support the latest Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) based upon the directive issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on September 28, 2010 (https://cio.gov/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/09/Transition-to-IPv6.pdf) & (http://www.cybertelecom.org/dns/ipv6usg.htm). IPv6 technology, in accordance with the USGv6: A Technical Infrastructure for USGv6 Adoption (http://www.nist.gov/itl/antd/usgv6.cfm) and the NIST SP 800 series applicable compliance (http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/PubsSPs.html), shall be included in all IT infrastructures, application designs, application development, operational systems and sub-systems, and their integration. All public/external facing servers and services (e.g. web, email, DNS, ISP services, etc.) shall support native IPv6 users, including all internal infrastructure and applications shall communicate using native IPv6 operations. Guidance and support of improved methodologies which ensure interoperability with legacy protocol and services, in addition to OMB/VA memoranda, can be found at https://www.voa.va.gov/documentlistpublic.aspx NodeID=282.

    The Contractor solution shall meet the requirements outlined in Office of Management and Budget Memorandum M08-05 mandating Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/omb/memoranda/fy2008/m08-05.pdf), M08-23 mandating Domain Name System Security (NSSEC) (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/omb/memoranda/fy2008/m08-23.pdf), and shall comply with the Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) Reference Architecture Document, Version 2.0 https://www.fedramp.gov/files/2015/04/TIC_Ref_Arch_v2-0_2013.pdf.

    The Contractor IT end user solution that is developed for use on standard VA computers shall be compatible with and be supported on the standard VA operating system, currently Windows 7 (64bit), Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Office 2010. In preparation for the future VA standard configuration update, end user solutions shall also be compatible with Office 2013 and Windows 8.1. However, Office 2013 and Windows 8.1 are not the VA standard yet and are currently not approved for use on the VA Network, but are in-process for future approval by OI&T. Upon the release approval of Office 2013 and Windows 8.1 individually as the VA standard, Office 2013 and Windows 8.1 will supersede Office 2010 and Windows 7 respectively. Applications delivered to the VA and intended to be deployed to Windows 7 workstations shall be delivered as a signed .msi package and updates shall be delivered in signed .msp file formats for easy deployment using System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) VA s current desktop application deployment tool. Signing of the software code shall be through a vendor provided certificate that is trusted by the VA using a code signing authority such as Verizon/Cybertrust or Symantec/VeriSign. The Contractor shall also ensure and certify that their solution functions as expected when used from a standard VA computer, with non-admin, standard user rights that have been configured using the United States Government Configuration Baseline (USGCB) specific to the particular client operating system being used.

    The Contractor shall support VA efforts IAW the Veteran Focused Integration Process (VIP). VIP is a Lean-Agile framework that services the interest of Veterans through the efficient streamlining of activities that occur within the enterprise. The VIP Guide can be found at https://www.voa.va.gov/DocumentView.aspx DocumentID=4371. The VIP framework creates an environment delivering more frequent releases through a deeper application of Agile practices. In parallel with a single integrated release process, VIP will increase cross-organizational and business stakeholder engagement, provide greater visibility into projects, increase Agile adoption and institute a predictive delivery cadence. VIP is now the single authoritative process that IT projects must follow to ensure development and delivery of IT products

    The Contractor shall utilize ProPath, the OI&T-wide process management tool that assists in the execution of an IT project (including adherence to VIP standards). It is a one-stop shop providing critical links to the formal approved processes, artifacts, and templates to assist project teams in facilitating their VIP compliant work.



    Position Sensitivity

    Background Investigation (in accordance with Department of Veterans Affairs 0710 Handbook, Personnel Suitability and Security Program, Appendix A)

    Low / Tier 1

    Tier 1 / National Agency Check with Written Inquiries (NACI) A Tier 1/NACI is conducted by OPM and covers a 5-year period. It consists of a review of records contained in the OPM Security Investigations Index (SII) and the DOD Defense Central Investigations Index (DCII), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) name check, FBI fingerprint check, and written inquiries to previous employers and references listed on the application for employment. In VA it is used for Non-sensitive or Low Risk positions.

    Moderate / Tier 2

    Tier 2 / Moderate Background Investigation (MBI) A Tier 2/MBI is conducted by OPM and covers a 5-year period. It consists of a review of National Agency Check (NAC) records [OPM Security Investigations Index (SII), DOD Defense Central Investigations Index (DCII), FBI name check, and a FBI fingerprint check], a credit report covering a period of 5 years, written inquiries to previous employers and references listed on the application for employment; an interview with the subject, law enforcement check; and a verification of the educational degree.

    High / Tier 4

    Tier 4 / Background Investigation (BI) A Tier 4/BI is conducted by OPM and covers a 10-year period. It consists of a review of National Agency Check (NAC) records [OPM Security Investigations Index (SII), DOD Defense Central Investigations Index (DCII), FBI name check, and a FBI fingerprint check report], a credit report covering a period of 10 years, written inquiries to previous employers and references listed on the application for employment; an interview with the subject, spouse, neighbors, supervisor, co-workers; court records, law enforcement check, and a verification of the educational degree.

    The position sensitivity and the level of background investigation commensurate with the required level of access for the following tasks within the PWS are:

    Position Sensitivity and Background Investigation Requirements by Task

    Task Number

    Tier1 / Low / NACI

    Tier 2 / Moderate / MBI

    Tier 4 / High / BI





    The Tasks identified above and the resulting Position Sensitivity and Background Investigation requirements identify, in effect, the Background Investigation requirements for Contractor individuals, based upon the tasks the particular Contractor individual will be working. The submitted Contractor Staff Roster must indicate the required Background Investigation Level for each Contractor individual based upon the tasks the Contractor individual will be working, in accordance with their submitted proposal.


    Contractor Responsibilities:

    The Contractor shall prescreen all personnel requiring access to the computer systems to ensure they maintain the appropriate Background Investigation, and are able to read, write, speak and understand the English language.

    The Contractor shall bear the expense of obtaining background investigations.

    Within 3 business days after award, the Contractor shall provide a roster of Contractor and Subcontractor employees to the COR to begin their background investigations in accordance with the ProPath template. The Contractor Staff Roster shall contain the Contractor s Full Name, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, individual background investigation level requirement (based upon Section 6.2 Tasks), etc. The Contractor shall submit full Social Security Numbers either within the Contractor Staff Roster or under separate cover to the COR. The Contractor Staff Roster shall be updated and provided to VA within 1 day of any changes in employee status, training certification completion status, Background Investigation level status, additions/removal of employees, etc. throughout the Period of Performance. The Contractor Staff Roster shall remain a historical document indicating all past information and the Contractor shall indicate in the Comment field, employees no longer supporting this contract. The preferred method to send the Contractor Staff Roster or Social Security Number is by encrypted e-mail. If unable to send encrypted e-mail, other methods which comply with FIPS 140-2 are to encrypt the file, use a secure fax, or use a traceable mail service.

    The Contractor should coordinate the location of the nearest VA fingerprinting office through the COR. Only electronic fingerprints are authorized.

    The Contractor shall ensure the following required forms are submitted to the COR within 5 days after contract award:

    Optional Form 306

    Self-Certification of Continuous Service

    VA Form 0710

    Completed Security and Investigations Center (SIC) Fingerprint Request Form

    The Contractor personnel shall submit all required information related to their background investigations (completion of the investigation documents (SF85, SF85P, or SF 86) utilizing the Office of Personnel Management s (OPM) Electronic Questionnaire for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) after receiving an email notification from the Security and Investigation Center (SIC).

    The Contractor employee shall certify and release the e-QIP document, print and sign the signature pages, and send them encrypted to the COR for electronic submission to the SIC. These documents shall be submitted to the COR within 3 business days of receipt of the e-QIP notification email. (Note: OPM is moving towards a click to sign process. If click to sign is used, the Contractor employee should notify the COR within 3 business days that documents were signed via eQIP).

    The Contractor shall be responsible for the actions of all personnel provided to work for VA under this contract. In the event that damages arise from work performed by Contractor provided personnel, under the auspices of this contract, the Contractor shall be responsible for all resources necessary to remedy the incident.

    A Contractor may be granted unescorted access to VA facilities and/or access to VA Information Technology resources (network and/or protected data) with a favorably adjudicated Special Agreement Check (SAC), training delineated in VA Handbook 6500.6 (Appendix C, Section 9), and, the signed Contractor Rules of Behavior. However, the Contractor will be responsible for the actions of the Contractor personnel they provide to perform work for VA. The investigative history for Contractor personnel working under this contract must be maintained in the database of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

    The Contractor, when notified of an unfavorably adjudicated background investigation on a Contractor employee as determined by the Government, shall withdraw the employee from consideration in working under the contract.

    Failure to comply with the Contractor personnel security investigative requirements may result in loss of physical and/or logical access to VA facilities and systems by Contractor and Subcontractor employees and/or termination of the contract for default.

    Identity Credential Holders must follow all HSPD-12 policies and procedures as well as use and protect their assigned identity credentials in accordance with VA policies and procedures, displaying their badges at all times, and returning the identity credentials upon termination of their relationship with VA.


    Contractor Staff Roster


    The Contractor shall deliver documentation in electronic format, unless otherwise directed in Section B of the solicitation/contract. Acceptable electronic media include: MS Word 2000/2003/2007/2010, MS Excel 2000/2003/2007/2010, MS PowerPoint 2000/2003/2007/2010, MS Project 2000/2003/2007/2010, MS Access 2000/2003/2007/2010, MS Visio 2000/2002/2003/2007/2010, AutoCAD 2002/2004/2007/2010, and Adobe Postscript Data Format (PDF).


    The table below defines the Performance Standards and Acceptable Levels of Performance associated with this effort.

    Required Service/Task

    Performance Standard

    Acceptable Quality Level

    Method of Surveillance

    Incentive(positive and /or


    Project Management Plan (See PWS Section 5.1.1)

    The Contractor shall deliver a Contractor Project Management Plan (CPMP) that lays out the Contractor s approach, timeline and tools to be used in execution of the contract. --The CPMP should take the form of both a narrative and graphic format that displays the schedule, milestones, risks and resource support.----The CPMP shall also include how the Contractor shall coordinate and execute planned, routine, and ad hoc data collection reporting requests as identified within the PWS.

    Zero instances where significant errors or omissions were identified (See Note 1)

    100% Inspection

    Firm-Fixed Price (FFP) TO. The PM and COR will review and accept deliverables. Contractor shall re-accomplish products found to be unacceptable or not meeting the intent of the task and the work within (3) business days. Contractor will receive payment once deliverable is accepted by the Government

    See note 2.

    Monthly Progress Report (See PWS Section 5.1.2)

    The monthly Progress Reports shall cover all work completed during the reporting period and work planned for the subsequent reporting period.-- The report shall also identify any problems that arose and a description of how the problems were resolved.-- If problems have not been completely resolved, the Contractor shall provide an explanation including their plan and timeframe for resolving the issue. The Contractor shall monitor performance and report any deviations. It is expected that the Contractor will keep in communication with VA accordingly so that issues that arise are transparent to both parties to prevent escalation of outstanding issues.

    Zero instances where significant errors or omissions were identified (See Note 1)

    100% Inspection

    FFP TO. The PM and COR will review and accept deliverables. Contractor shall re-accomplish products found to be unacceptable or not meeting the intent of the task and the work within (3) business days. Contractor will receive payment once deliverable is accepted by the Government

    See note 2.

    Track, Analyze and Report on VHA IT Investments (see PWS Section 5.2

    On a daily basis the contractor shall implement the IKM Standard Operating Procedures (SOP; perform tracking, analysis, and reporting activities; participate in continuous improvement activities that support processes (includes inputs and outputs).

    Zero instances where significant errors or omissions were identified (See Note 1)

    100% Inspection

    FFP TO. The PM and COR will review and accept deliverables. Contractor shall re-accomplish products found to be unacceptable or not meeting the intent of the task and the work within (3) business days. Contractor will receive payment once deliverable is accepted by the Government

    See note 2.

    Manage Data (see PWS Section 5.3

    On a daily basis, perform activities to maintain, update, transition, and support data (includes multiple databases [FileMaker Pro 12, 14, and 15; SQL Server 2012], share drives, and SharePoint sites). Examples of daily activities and related outcomes/deliverables

    Zero instances where significant errors or omissions were identified (See Note 1)

    100% Inspection

    FFP TO. The PM and COR will review and accept deliverables. Contractor shall re-accomplish products found to be unacceptable or not meeting the intent of the task and the work within (3) business days. Contractor will receive payment once deliverable is accepted by the Government

    See note 2.

    Transition to SQL Database (see PWS Section 5.4

    Perform activities necessary to transition data and reports from FileMaker Pro 12 to a database on Microsoft SQL Server 2012.

    Zero instances where significant errors or omissions were identified (See Note 1)

    100% Inspection

    FFP TO. The PM and COR will review and accept deliverables. Contractor shall re-accomplish products found to be unacceptable or not meeting the intent of the task and the work within (3) business days. Contractor will receive payment once deliverable is accepted by the Government

    See note 2.

    Note 1: Significant errors or omissions are defined as deliverables not meeting the intent of the task and the work considered to be within scope of this order.

    Note 2: Continued repetitive errors may result in an unacceptable rating on performance report to be used as part of the evaluation criteria on future order competitions.

    The COR will utilize a Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP) throughout the life of the contract to ensure that the Contractor is performing the services required by this PWS in an acceptable level of performance. The Government reserves the right to alter or change the surveillance methods in the QASP at its own discretion. A Performance Based Service Assessment will be used by the COR in accordance with the QASP to assess Contractor performance.


    The Government will provide office space, telephone service and system access when authorized contract staff work at a Government location as required in order to accomplish the Tasks associated with this PWS. All procedural guides, reference materials, and program documentation for the project and other Government applications will also be provided on an as-needed basis.

    The Contractor shall request other Government documentation deemed pertinent to the work accomplishment directly from the Government officials with whom the Contractor has contact. The Contractor shall consider the COR as the final source for needed Government documentation when the Contractor fails to secure the documents by other means. The Contractor is expected to use common knowledge and resourcefulness in securing all other reference materials, standard industry publications, and related materials that are pertinent to the work.

    VA may provide remote access to VA specific systems/network in accordance with VA Handbook 6500, which requires the use of a VA approved method to connect external equipment/systems to VA s network. Citrix Access Gateway (CAG) is the current and only VA approved method for remote access users when using or manipulating VA information for official VA Business. VA permits CAG remote access through approved Personally Owned Equipment (POE) and Other Equipment (OE) provided the equipment meets all applicable 6500 Handbook requirements for POE/OE. All of the security controls required for Government furnished equipment (GFE) must be utilized in approved POE or OE. The Contractor shall provide proof to the COR for review and approval that their POE or OE meets the VA Handbook 6500 requirements and VA Handbook 6500.6 Appendix C, herein incorporated as Addendum B, before use. CAG authorized users shall not be permitted to copy, print or save any VA information accessed via CAG at any time. VA prohibits remote access to VA s network from non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. The exception to this are countries where VA has approved operations established (e.g. Philippines and South Korea). Exceptions are determined by the COR in coordination with the Information Security Officer (ISO) and Privacy Officer (PO).

    This remote access may provide access to VA specific software such as Veterans Health Information System and Technology Architecture (VistA), ClearQuest, ProPath, Primavera, and Remedy, including appropriate seat management and user licenses, depending upon the level of access granted. The Contractor shall utilize government-provided software development and test accounts, document and requirements repositories, etc. as required for the development, storage, maintenance and delivery of products within the scope of this effort.-- The Contractor shall not transmit, store or otherwise maintain sensitive data or products in Contractor systems (or media) within the VA firewall IAW VA Handbook 6500.6 dated March 12, 2010. All VA sensitive information shall be protected at all times in accordance with VA Handbook 6500, local security field office System Security Plans (SSP s) and Authority to Operate (ATO) s for all systems/LAN s accessed while performing the tasks detailed in this PWS. The Contractor shall ensure all work is performed in countries deemed not to pose a significant security risk. For detailed Security and Privacy Requirements (additional requirements of the contract consolidated into an addendum for easy reference) refer to ADDENDUM A ADDITIONAL VA REQUIREMENTS, CONSOLIDATED and ADDENDUM B - VA INFORMATION AND INFORMATION SYSTEM SECURITY/PRIVACY LANGUAGE.

    Link/URL: https://www.fbo.gov/spg/VA/ISC/OISC/VA70117N0095/listing.html

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    Symantec 250-722 Exam (Implementation of DP Solutions for Windows using NBU 5.0) Detailed Information


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