Supermicro X9DRH-7TF Preview Ultimate Server Motherboard

21
Posted May 1, 2012 by Pieter in Servers

Just spotted this new board over at Supermicro, I can only think that this motherboard was released after my comment on the Tyan S7053 server board, being my board of choice currently :) I have a  feeling this motherboard could replace the S7053 and take the overall crown of king of all Intel Xeon E5 LGA 2011 server boards. Supermicro and Tyan have the server boards pretty well sewn up unless you go to a pre-built Dell, HP or IBM server. Let’s have a quick look at this monster server board.

The motherboard fits E-ATX a nice standard size that should fit almost all larger cases. It should be noted that this board is not recommended for 1U enclosures because one would not be able to take advantage of all of the expansion slots in a 1U chassis. In 2U and larger enclosurse this will fit as snug as a bug in a rug. Tower based servers should have no issues either.

The 16 DIMM slots provide for a maximum of 512GB ECC DDR3 Registered DIMMs or 128MB ECC UDIMMs (Unbuffered) memory. This should be ample for today’s and the foreseeable needs even for server running many virtual machines. By not going with a twenty DIMM solution, Supermicro was able to keep the form factor relatively standard.

SAS/SATA, this board is very well equiped with both, especially SAS2/SATA3. This motherboard comes with a LSI SAS 2208 based SAS controller, meaning there are eight 6.0gbps SAS II/SATA III drives that can be controlled directly via the motherboard’s SFF-8087 connectors, more via an expander should more drives be needed form a single controller. This LSI SAS 2208 controller is connected to CPU1 via PCIe 3.0 x8 lanes, which will give it the highest possible throughput currently available. Not having seen the motherboard live or mentioned in the specs, but this will likely have an onboard cache, with a size unknown it does however have 2x BBU options, one a watch battery on the board for the LSI chipset, and one connector for the cache backup battery. The LSI SAS 2208 supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, 50 and 60, being a dual core ROC device it will do really well with parity RAID operations (e.g. for RAID 5 and 6.) The Intel Patsburg PCH brings another two SATA3 connectors and another six SATA2 connectors.

Another handy feature that all server boards should have is  IPMI 2.0 support, makes remote management a breeze and Supermicro’s IPMIview 2.0 should work without issue on this board. The management interface, as is Supermicro’s practice, comes with its own LAN port so one can segment remote access to a private network.

The Supermicro X9DRH-7TF motherboard comes with two10GbE of them using the latest new Intel X540 chipset which estute readers know is Intel’s new, low power network controller with the most current ECC and virtualization support. This should allow it to dish out a heap of data to the network which is a very big plus feature in a dataserver.

The board has seven USB 2.0 ports, but no USB 3.0 support which is standard on server motherboards for Intel’s new Xeon E5 series, but in a server environment no biggy, but to install an OS of a USB stick via USB 3.0 would be time saver. It would have been nice for Intel to give motherboard manufacturers this option as Ivy Bridge boards support it. There are 2x serial ports and the standard VGA connector for legacy connectors.

Supermicro X9DRH-7TF Schematic

Supermicro X9DRH-7TF Schematic

Leaving the best till last, let’s talk about expansion slots. One PCIe 3.0 x16x and six PCIe 3.0 x8 slots is just fantastic on a dual Socket R board that is so “small” (most boards with this many slots are going to be bigger. This is definitely not a setup for GPU processing with only one PCIe x16 slot, but for a running additional SAS controllers, 10GbE LAN devices etc, this is ideal.

There are 64 PCIe 3.0 lanes available, no slots are shared with any other devices. When you include the PCIe 3.0 x8 lanes used by the LSI SAS 2208 controller that gives a whopping 72 Gen3 lanes out of 80 that are available on a dual Socket R platform, well done Supermicro. Even the Intel X540 LAN controller is connected with x8 PCIe lanes, but looks to be PCIe 2.0 lanes which is common on the dual Socket R boards.

Physical Stats
Form Factor
  • Extended ATX
Dimensions
  • 12″ x 13″ (30.48cm x 33cm)
Processor/Cache
CPU
  • Intel Xeon processor E5-2600
  • Dual Socket R (LGA 2011)
Cache
  • Up to 20MB
System Bus
  • QPI up to 8 GT/s
System Memory
Memory Capacity
  • 16x 240-pin DDR3 DIMM sockets
  • Supports up to 512 GB DDR3 ECC Registered memory (RDIMM)
  • Supports up to 128 GB DDR3 ECC Un-Buffered memory (UDIMM)
Memory Type
  • 1600/1333/1066/800MHz ECC DDR3 SDRAM 72-bit, 240-pin gold-plated DIMMs
DIMM Sizes
  • 32GB, 16GB, 8GB, 4GB, 2GB, 1GB
Memory Voltage
  • 1.5 V, 1.35 V
Error Detection
  • Corrects single-bit errors
  • Detects double-bit errors (using ECC memory)
On-Board Devices
Chipset
  • Intel® C602 chipset
AHCI SATA
  • SATA 2.0 3Gbps with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
    SATA 3.0 6Gbps with RAID 0, 1
SCU SATA
  • SATA 2.0 3Gbps with RAID 0, 1, 10
SAS
  • SAS2 from LSI SAS 2208
  • RAID 0,1,5,6,10,50,60 support
IPMI
  • Support for Intelligent Platform Management Interface v.2.0
  • IPMI 2.0 with virtual media over LAN and KVM-over-LAN support
  • Nuvoton WPCM450 BMC
Network Controllers
  • Intel X540 Dual Port 10GBase-T
  • Virtual Machine Device Queues reduce I/O overhead
  • Supports 10GBase-T, 100BASE-TX, and 1000BASE-T, RJ45 output
  • 1x Realtek RTL8201N PHY (dedicated IPMI)
Video
  • G200 (Nuvoton WPCM450 BMC with graphic controller)
Super I/O
  • Nuvoton W83527HG (optional)
Input / Output
AHCI SATA RAID
  • 2x SATA 3.0 ports (6Gbps)
  • 4x SATA 2.0 ports (3Gbps)
SCU SATA RAID
  • 4x SATA 2.0 ports (3Gbps)
SAS RAID
  • 8x SAS 2 ports (6Gbps)
LAN
  • 2x RJ45 10GbE LAN ports
  • 1x RJ45 Dedicated IPMI LAN port
USB
  • 7x USB 2.0 ports total
    (4 rear + 2 via header + 1 Type A)
Video
  • 1x VGA port
Serial Port / Header
  • 2x Fast UART 16550 serial COM port
    (1 rear & 1 header)
DOM
  • 1x DOM (Disk on Module) power connector

First impressions

To me a great board and it has taken the crown as king of dual Socket R server motherboards. This applies of course only to 2u or bigger enclosures and not running a GPU server, as the Tyan S7053 would suit better for those instances. My only real gripe for is lack of USB 3 support. This board is packed with server features, there are other configurations of this board with less features. If I was to upgrade my system now, this would be the board of choice, it has a heap of features and future proofing with all those expansion slots. The thing that could throw a spanner in the works could be the price, it’s not going to be cheap, this board on Amazon is a whopping $950, this going to put off quite a few folk, as you could also easily spend that again per CPU to populate the sockets.
To help with costs there are other options of this board:

Supermicro X9DRH-7F, no 10GbE LAN, 1GbE instead, Amazon $850
Supermicro X9DRH-iTF, no SAS2208 controller, Amazon (not available yet), but around $770
Supermicro X9DRH-iF , no SAS2208 and no 10GbE, Amazon $670


About the Author

Pieter

Pieter is perhaps best known as the one behind laptopvideo2go.com. He has been a regular contributor in the STH forums and has been detailing his learning, specifically in the area of LSI controllers on STH. He is quickly becoming the resident LSI controller guru.

21 Comments


  1.  


  2.  
    pcjunklist

    Patrick, is that first pci slot even usable? It looks like there is no room between it and the memory slots.




  3.  
    dba

    That’s an impressive motherboard. Provantage has it for $700 which seems reasonable once you do the math. The 2208 RAID card is worth at least $400 and the 10Gbe NIC at least $300. If you need both 10Gbe and RAID5/6 then the rest of the motherboard is “free”.
    Now let’s see if I can cram one into a 24-bay Supermicro 216 chassis to make the ultimate ZFS storage server for Oracle hybrid columnar compression.




  4.  
    dba

    That’s an impressive motherboard – and I consider the price to be reasonable!

    Provantage has the board at around $700. The dual 10Gbe NIC is worth at least $300 and the 2208 RAID is worth $400 even if the cache turns out to be only 512MB. If you need both of these features then the rest of the board is essentially “free”.

    I’d love to try one in a 24-bay Supermicro 216 chassis along with a pile of SSD drives as the world’s fastest ZFS/NFS storage server. With a few hacks it should be possible to run Oracle hybrid columnar compression on it, turning that 2GB/Second of network bandwidth into 20GB/Second of database scan speed after decompression.




  5.  

    pcjunklist – That is not a lot of room, but so long as there are not tons of backside components that first PCIe slot is fine. I still need to get one to review. My sense is that this is a cramped board.

    dba – totally agree on the onboard side. Really awesome price compared to buying the components themselves.




  6.  
    dba

    Patrick, feel free to delete this comment and one of my earlier comments. The site threw an error after I submitted my comment so I re-entered it, not knowing that it actually went through.




  7.  
    John W

    Good looking motherboard. Ever try this in one of their high density double side storage 4U cases. Seems ideal.




  8.  
    pcjunklist

    definitely a cramped board, but with most of everything onboard utilizing the pci slots isn;t very important. Only thing I would add is maybe an additional nic and a usb 3 card.




  9.  
    pcjunklist

    luckily not much needs to be added with so many options found onboard. Maybe a usb 3 and an additional nic




  10.  
    nasguru

    nice board. can’t wait to see Patrick’s review.




  11.  

    Good to see so much interest in this great board :)

    I choose Amazon to highlight the price as this is a trusted seller and has non US branches.
    But looking more closely there are much cheaper versions to be had if you shop around.
    I also noticed that most online retailer had no stock where as Amazon did.
    Newegg will be good to have this board as they tend to have the cheapest pricing even over Ebay.

    We look forward to receiving a board to try for our selves to see if it’s worth the $700 to $950 price tag.

    It does highlight when you purchase a SAS2208 from LSI you pay $600+ but this board seems to have it optioned from the model below for $180, alot of markup me thinks.

    Keep them comments coming




  12.  
    yari

    Pieter —– good point on difference in price
    Patrick —– when are you going to publish a review?




  13.  
    Eddie Thomson

    Waiting on the review to see if we should use these.




  14.  
    NME

    What do you think about this server barebone: 6037R-72RFT(X9DRH-7TF + CSE-835TQ-R920B) ?
    http://www.supermicro.com/products/system/3U/6037/SYS-6037R-72RFT.cfm
    In shops it is listed SYS-6037R-72RTF ~ 1600$.




  15.  

    NME – that is a bit more than the combined pieces from what I can see. My sense though is that having pre-built is a bit better in terms of wire routing and such.

    All – based on the feedback, I will see if I can review the board on the site.




  16.  
    ministry of linux

    from the specs, this looks like a great board. Does anyone know if the integrated LSI 2208 ROC supports cachecade 2.0?

    björn




  17.  
    Igor

    Anyone knows if it can be used with a single E5-1620 or E5-1650 CPU (i.e not E5-2600 series it’s designed for)? Yes, I understand that half of DIMMs and several PCI Express slots wouldn’t be usable.
    I’m particularly interested in the opinions of those who actually tried that or know exactly why it should (or can’t) work.




  18.  
    Gianni

    Doesn’t the E5-1600 not have the link to the second CPU? Maybe ask supermicro.




  19.  
    Kenny Kim

    Beaware,
    The LSI2208 on this mother board can support only upto 16HDDs.
    We purchased 8 systems with 846-E26, 4U 24HDDs, chassis. They do not work together well.




  20.  
    Krobar

    To answer Igor’s question these boards work fine with a single E5-26XXX but I dont think E5-1XXX have been tested.

    This board does not support cachecade 2.0, it does support the Cache 1 and Safestore software key options. I’m very surprised it does not support more than 16 drives, I suspect you can flash the storage controller with the LSI 9265 bios.

    New beta bios seems to enable ISCSI and FCOE firmwares for the onboard X540s.




  21.  
    Korgan

    @Krobar

    Actually these boards supports Cachecade 2.0, you need to have the software key to use it though. LSI named it “CacheCade Pro 2.0″. I don’t know if that’s the same as CacheCade 2.0, or maybe marketing thing.





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