Is Ryzen ready to power servers?
This has become a recurring segment in our coverage of the ASRock Rack Ryzen server infrastructure. Many of the quibbles that prompted that question still exist when covering the X570D4U-2L2T today, and are still worth going over.
The X570D4U-2L2T has an extremely limited list of officially supported operating systems:
- Windows 10 x64
- Ubuntu 18.04 x64
- RedHat Enterprise Linux Server 8.1 x64
That is a pretty short set of options. Of course, this board will likely work on many operating systems not specifically listed, and we found many that worked without issues in our server OS compatibility section. However, for some prospective buyers, official support for an OS may be important and so it is worth pointing out. If you are your own support solution, then this may well be acceptable.
Of specific note is VMware, which has been uncooperative in the past about providing any support when their software is running on hardware that is not on their compatibility list. In addition to this motherboard not being on VMware’s HCL, no Ryzen CPUs appear on the VMware HCL. The AMD EPYC CPUs make an appearance on the HCL and are obviously based on largely the same core design as the Ryzen CPUs. Installing VMware is certainly possible, but if you encounter some kind of bug or edge case problem then you might very well be left on your own.
There are also not very many purpose-built mATX server chassis on the market today. The SilverStone CS381 would be a good fit, but most other server options would either be mITX, ATX, or larger; mATX is not the industry’s focus at this point.
Once again we feel somewhat compelled to label the X570D4U-2L2T a “DIY server motherboard.” If you need OS support, the list is slim, and getting vendor support may be difficult. For a small DIY environment, or something like a web hosting environment the platform works and offers some great cost savings. If you need ISV support for your job this is unlikely the platform you want to buy. Further, since this is effectively the only Ryzen server platform on the market, it does not get the same level of firmware bugfix patch attention that the Xeon E-2200 series gets. Many of our readers know this, but we just want to be clear that there are significant differences for a large portion of the market using this platform.
Finally, with support for the Ryzen 9 3950X now and potentially the 5000 series chips coming soon, one gets an enormous amount of compute capability in the AM4 socket compared to the smaller Xeon CPUs. Just as before though, the trade-off is an imbalance between available compute and memory capacity. 128GB is possible using 4x 32GB DDR4 DIMMs, and at least on the X570D4U-2L2T you are not paying an upcharge for SODIMMs like with the X570D4I-2T. However, that is the maximum, and with a full 16C/32T CPU socketed into the platform that does not leave much memory per thread. That memory constraint, along with the limited PCIe connectivity of the compact platform, means that if one is looking to build a large server, EPYC 7002 is a better option. We just published our ASRock Rack ROMED8-2T Review which is a great example of what a bigger platform can scale to. In this market, buyers know this, but we still wanted to call it out.
Compared to the mITX ASRock Rack X570D4I-2T, the ASRock Rack X570D4U-2L2T is almost a ‘normal’ board, without most of the unique challenges presented by the smaller mITX form factor on that motherboard.
If this motherboard was not home to an AM4 socket and a Ryzen CPU, it would be mostly unremarkable. It is a stable system, with very reasonable I/O, storage options, and PCIe connectivity for the market segment it is targeting. I do not mean unremarkable in a negative sense; on the contrary, in my opinion, this is the best AM4 server motherboard ASRock Rack has put out. It lacks most of the quirks or gotchas that always seemed to accompany ASRock Rack’s previous AM4 entries and instead is a competent, no-nonsense server motherboard. If you have any interest in running Ryzen in a server, then this is the best option available right now and gets my recommendation.