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Asus (Republic of Gamers) Interview with Derek Yu


by Stuart Davidson - 17th Apr 2009
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Derek Yu
Product Manager ASUS motherboards


DH: Hi Derek, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, can you tell our readers exactly your job within Asus and your daily duties?

Derek: Hi Allan, I’m always happy to share the concept of Republic of Gamers with the community, thank you for the opportunity. I’m a product manager for ASUS motherboards, more specifically overlooking the RoG series. I also help out in the overall direction of RoG.

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DH: What products are currently available in addition to motherboards that fit under the RoG umbrella?

Derek: The Republic of Gamers started with motherboards. A few years ago our notebook team created a gaming series of laptops which joined the RoG. There are a few other products with special SKU’s bearing the brand, purely to highlight their intention for gamers.

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DH: What is the long term goal for RoG? Is the brand going to expand past the current product range in the future?

Derek: The goal for RoG is to provide the most innovative, highest performing products and to enhance the user experience for the gamers and enthusiasts. Looking passed just components and benchmarks, the interface and experience are key subjects we want to focus on improving for our users. The brand will expand beyond our current offerings, but right now we’re taking one step at a time; we need to make sure the new products can live up to the expectations of RoG.

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DH: In addition to manufacturing products, is the brand involved with any events or tournaments in the industry?

Derek: The Republic of Gamers is involved in many events to engage with the community. As an example, we’ve had a presence in LAN Parties and Game shows throughout Europe, including DreamHack, Campus Party, ESL, Games Convention and Assembly - We’ve also had overclocking competitions in Asia and Europe.

Last year in the US we also held our own LAN Party, ROGcon, for gamers to come in, socialize with each other as well as compete to win prizes, try out our products and interact with ASUS staff.

The events were great and our one of our favourite channels to get in touch with users, we don’t simply “label” a product RoG, we design an RoG product – We get a lot of our design inspirations from interacting with users at these events!

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DH: The names of your motherboards certainly stand out in the crowd, where do you guys come up with the names? What do the Formula and Extreme tags mean when we see them incorporated within a name?

Derek: I sure hope the names stand out from the crowd, we because don’t see RoG motherboards as being “just another motherboard”. Our Republic of Gamer boards have so much more character that they deserve to have a name instead of a string of letters and numbers.

Personally, I dislike the alphanumerical style of product representation – It looks more like the ISBN code on the back of a book that nobody can remember! However, when you have a hundred products to manage, such a system is required.

The Republic of Gamers product matrix isn’t as complicated, so we can give more interesting names to the products. There isn’t a standard process to pick out the words, but we have tried to come up with names that match the character of a product.

The Republic of Gamers motherboards have three segments targeted at three user scenarios:

Our “Extreme Series” is designed predominately for overclockers, with all the overclocking tools provided as default.

The “Formula Series” is made with the gamers in mind, with SupremeFX X-FI and an array of functions that can upgrade a users’ gaming experience.

The “GENE Series” is our latest entry to RoG and represents the best mATX motherboards there is - Small doesn’t necessarily mean it has to suck. GENE has a small form factor, but it’s every bit as good as an ATX motherboard, it’s perfect for people who want an mATX motherboard but don’t want to compromise the value of a system.

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DH: What distinguishes products like the Rampage II Gene from other Asus boards such as the P6T Deluxe? What features and components do your boards offer to gain an advantage over the competition?

Derek: The Rampage II GENE has most of the RoG features for gamers. SupremeFX X-FI is still available, it’s easy to upgrade your CPU with CPU Level Up and we’ve even added a new function – MemOK! Considering many of our customers are PC DIY users, this MemOK function ensures that any DIMM our users purchase, it will boot.

Although it’s an mATX form factor, the Rampage II GENE still has triple channel DDR3 support. Gamers can still install two graphics cards in it and it’s also equipped with an iROG chip, even our Keyboard TweakIT is available!

Having such a powerful mATX board opens up some new options for users - such as a smaller PC for LAN Party goers, or more flexibility for case modders. It even makes installation simpler if you want to put a mATX in an ATX chassis!

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DH: The Rampage II Gene has mounting holes for socket 775 and 1366 coolers, do you intend to continue having both on future Core I7 boards?

Derek: Yes we do.

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DH: EZ Flash 2 is present on all Asus boards, including RoG. Can you explain to our readers how this tool benefits them and why it is better than the traditional floppy method used by many of your competitors?

Derek: The younger users nowadays have probably never used a floppy. It’s so VHS-era – I think my floppy drive is buried somewhere deep in a box along with my original Windows 3.1 diskettes!

USB is the prominent medium for portable files nowadays and EZ Flash 2 allows users to update their BIOS for USB drives in an easy to use interface.

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DH: What would you give as the number one reason a consumer should buy a RoG board instead of a competitor product?

Derek: You get more from an RoG board than any other motherboard. More performance, more function, more style and more fun!

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DH: Many of the RoG products feature onboard sound with X-Fi technology as a software enhancement. Are you giving any consideration to providing a true X-Fi chip on your boards? Or even bundling one of the great Xonar cards?

Derek: We actually engaged with Creative on X-Fi technology, including the X-Fi chip a long time ago. When we really examined the actual benefits we wanted to deliver to our users, such as great sound effects for games and great sound quality, we developed the SupremeFX X-Fi and it is the best solution for delivering exactly what we want.

Creative has awesome technologies in their audio algorithms. CMSS3D and EAX make a massive difference in games and that’s why we’ve licensed them. On the quality side, we can achieve it with our own layouts, components and shielding designs. I want gaming experience to be better, but I don’t want to do it by increasing the cost to our customers.

Xonar cards are great, but I see Xonar products focusing on the overall Hi-Fi / Audio presentation. It’s great for music and home theatre applications, but because RoG is supposed to be gaming orientated, I didn’t want to dilute our focus. For gamers who want hi-fi home theatre audio, I’d rather have them upgrade their audio solution independently – rather than making it standard for all other gamers. That said, we’re always looking to improve our audio solution so we’re always investigating in advanced solutions with DSP’s amongst other parts.

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DH: Graphics cards are obviously an important component for gamers and it is an area for Asus which tends to take a backseat to products such as motherboards and laptops. Are there any plans in the future to apply the RoG philosophy to the graphics cards and perhaps see a push in that sector?

Derek: Our VGA team has a really cool product which dynamically overclocks the GPU whenever gaming performance is in demand. I’m also work closely with our VGA team to see how else we can inject some more RoG elements into their product lines.

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DH: Would you ever contemplate expanding the RoG range into other areas, such as for example gaming NIC’s?

Derek: We are looking into all kinds of solutions that our customers can use to enhance their gaming experience. However, we’re going to approach this carefully and responsibly to make sure it’s the right partner and a smart approach which makes the most sense.

We’ve design a “G-Panel” which not only looks neat and occupies 2 slots of your chassis façade; it also has powerful functions when coupled with some recent RoG motherboards. Users can get advance read-out’s of their system and the panel also has all sorts of tuning options for your PC. We’re really proud of this product and it is indeed a peripheral outside of our standard product offerings. There will be more information soon, but we’re all really excited about it.

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DH: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today is there anything else you would like to share with our readers before signing off?

Derek: Our Republic of Gamers motherboards are designed with a different mentality. Sure the RoG motherboards now hold an array of world records in 3DMark, CPU Frequencies, memory frequencies and other benchmarks but there’s so much more to the product than these numbers. RoG is a very different entity than any other motherboard manufacturers and what we strive to deliver are improvements and innovations in interface and experience. Ultimately, these are the things effecting actual users.

There are copycats, counterfeiters and pirates making cheap imitations of our designs, from the Fusion Block, pin-fin thermal module, to overclocking control and button designs but they say it’s the best form of flattery. We have actually filed for patents on most of our features, but this just goes to show the world how advanced and what sort of brand RoG actually is.

We built our values on originality and a true mission to improve on actual user experiences. I wish to recognize and express many thanks to the Republic of Gamers our there who appreciates ingenuity. That’s what the RoG is all about and that’s what we promise for the products coming in the future.

Thank you.

Derek Yu
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