The Big WHS: A Big Mother(board) Change of Plans
This week the Big WHS underwent a major change and dropped the Asus motherboard in favor of a Supermicro one. Apparently the Asus P6T7 WS Supercomputer motherboard does not like the HP SAS Expander at all. I could not find a card that could see the SAS Expander. This all culminated when I finally took the working setup out of the Gigabyte H55 board and couldn’t get it to work in the Asus. For those wondering, yes, it was a $200 motherboard/ CPU with 36 raid ports + another 5 onboard and 1 esata. Windows Home Server v1 can only support 32 drives so that is a lot of connectivity at about $660!
The decision not to use the Asus left me with a void in what to use motherboard wise for the big WHS. I gave some thought of just using the Gigabyte H55 mATX + the i5-650, but then realized that I would probably want more in the near future. At this point, I just want things to work so I ordered the Supermicro X8ST3-F The board is pretty cool in that it has a lot of PCIe slots, integrated video (16MB which these days sounds more like a CPU cache amount but alas), Intel LAN, and most importantly IPMI 2.0! It is somewhat scary that the WHS is going to take up 8 ports on the switch when it is done.
Here is a quick picture of the new Supermicro board installed with 12GB of DDR3, an Areca 1680LP, and a HP SAS Expander card. Other add-ins such as an Intel Pro/1000 PT Quad, and such were not installed at this point.
I will write a review after I get a chance to use the board a bit more. Right now I am loving the IPMI 2.0 which is a big step up from the remote server management I could do on the Asus board. Further, the new Supermicro has a generous amount of PCIe slots which makes it ideal for adding multiple raid cards, HBAs, and/or quad port NICs.