Our ASRock Rack ROMED8-2T review is one we have been excited about for some time. A key feature with the AMD EPYC 7002 Series codenamed “Rome” is that it exposes a large number of PCIe lanes even in a single-socket configuration. There are some practical constraints to putting a full AMD EPYC 7002 single-socket platform on an ATX form factor motherboard so many examples we have seen to date make major trade-offs. With the ASRock Rack ROMED8-2T, one effectively gets everything the CPU has to offer except in 1 DIMM per channel memory mode. Let us get into the review.
ASRock Rack ROMED8-2T Overview
Looking at the ASRock Rack ROMED8-2T we can see an absolutely packed ATX form factor motherboard. While this is a standard ATX form factor, there are a few small concessions made to stay compact. A great example of this is that the middle screw mounting point on the top edge of the motherboard is replaced by a pad on the backside in order to make room for the DIMM slots.
There are a total of 8x DDR4 DIMM slots which support RDIMMs, LRDIMMs, and even NVDIMMs (check the HCL.) At the upper end of the spectrum, this means one can have up to 8x 128GB LRDIMMs for 1TB of memory or 8x 256GB LRDIMMs for 2TB of memory. These eight slots each have their own memory channel for full bandwidth. That is a big differentiator over the Threadripper (non-Pro) series. The CPU socket supports AMD EPYC 7002 CPUs up to 225W. One can see that the socket and memory are designed for front to back airflow which is what one typically wants in server chassis.
Let us get to what is perhaps the most unique feature: PCIe slots. There are seven PCIe Gen4 x16 slots. That means we get 112x PCIe Gen4 lanes exposed in this system. The AMD EPYC 7002 series has a total of 128x PCIe lanes, however, some are used for peripherals such as the 10GbE networking that we are going to discuss later.
Setting some context here, the 112x PCIe Gen4 lanes have more lanes than a dual Intel Xeon Scalable server. Since they are Gen4, not Gen3, they have more bandwidth than a 4-socket 3rd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable Cooper Lake platform. One of the challenges on this system, and while there are not many others like it, is that getting this many single-width PCIe Gen4 x16 cards is relatively difficult. Still, the flexibility this provides is excellent.
In order to service the remaining motherboard expansion capability, ASRock Rack has a series of switches that allow one to effectively divert PCIe Gen4 lanes from the PCIE2 slot to other formats. An example is that we have dual M.2 slots. One can take up to a M.2 22110 (110mm) NVMe SSD, the other up to a M.2 2280 M.2 SSD. We will note that with a M.2 22110 SSD installed, you may have difficulty accessing the mounting point at the bottom middle of the motherboard.
The motherboard also has two Oculink and two miniSASHD connectors. If you look at the motherboard, this is perhaps one of the more modern designs without even a single dedicated 7-pin SATA port on board (there is a SATADOM BOM option that is depopulated on our motherboard.) Instead, we get high-density connectors for features such as SATA ports. The Oculink ports can be used for NVMe SSDs such as the Kioxia CM6 we just reviewed.
ASRock Rack also did a nice job of using the edges of the motherboard with horizontal connectors to keep cabling tidy. We also wanted to point out that there are a total of 7x 6-pin fan headers along the edge of the motherboard which makes fans easy to wire except if they are rear chassis fans. If you have fans at the rear (or potentially top) of the chassis, you simply need to be mindful of cable lengths and routing.
The giant silver heatsink near the PCIe slots is primarily to cool the Intel X550-AT2 controller which provides this platform with dual 10Gbase-T networking. The Intel X550-AT2 is well supported in most OSes and that is a great choice for this platform. Other ports one will find legacy serial and VGA ports. There is an out-of-band management port. The USB port configuration is slightly different. We have two USB 3 Type-A ports which is fairly standard. We have no USB 2 ports which are largely unnecessary these days, but then we have a USB Type-C port as well. This is one of the first server motherboards we have used with a Type-C port. It is powered by an ASMedia ASM3142 controller and if you look at the motherboard pictures you will see a front panel header from this controller as well.
If you have front panel USB needs, there is a standard USB 3.0 header near the power supply inputs.
The power supply inputs are another interesting aspect to this system. There is a standard 24-pin ATX power connector, an 8-pin CPU power input, and then a 4-pin power input. In this class of system, we usually see two 8-pin CPU power inputs but it is likely that the extra space was needed to put the motherboard mounting hole. That is a great way to show just how packed this motherboard is.
Next, we are going to get into management, followed by our test configuration and performance. If you are looking for the block diagram to tie the above together, check out the last page.