Along with a new server platform (with redundant or single PSUs), we get four new ASUS Intel Xeon E-2300 series motherboards. ASUS is teasing a mITX fifth motherboard dubbed the ASUS P12R-I, but that is not being shown publicly at this point. Instead, we are going to cover the two ATX and two mATX motherboards ASUS is launching.
New ASUS Intel Xeon E-2300 Series Motherboards
We are going to cover these four motherboards in pairs. Effectively ASUS has an ATX and a mATX base platform and then has two variations on each platform. Across the platforms, ASUS is also touting its ASMB10-iKVM solution which is what we saw in our recent ASUS RS700-E10-RS12U 1U Intel Xeon Ice Lake Server Review.
ASUS Intel Xeon E-2300 Series ATX Motherboards
The higher-end of the two ATX motherboards is the ASUS P12R-E/10G-2T. This motherboard utilizes the higher-end Intel C256 PCH and has a full set of four DIMM slots. ASUS has a number of rear I/O features that are very interesting. These include dual 10Gbase-T via an Intel X710 NIC. ASUS also has two USB 3.2 Gen2 ports and even a VGA header from the CPU. One can use that in conjunction with a “G” suffix SKU and get a HDMI 1.4 output from this port.
The motherboard’s four PCIe slots, oriented like the picture above, are:
- PCIe x16 (Gen4 X16 Link), Auto switch to x8 link if slot 4 is occupied
- PCIe x8 (Gen4 X8 Link)
- PCIe x4 (Gen3 X4 Link)
- PCIe x4 (Gen3 X4 Link)
So the x4’s are coming from the PCH. In addition to all of these PCIe slots, we also get wo M.2 slots.
For those that do not want the capability and associated cost of the Intel X710 10Gbase-T networking, ASUS has another solution. The ASUS P12R-E has two Intel i210 1GbE NICs instead to lower costs.
Overall though, the ASUS P12R-E/10G-2T and P12R-E are very similar except for the NIC configuration. This helps drive volumes and helps mature firmware while lowering costs.
ASUS Intel Xeon E-2300 Series mATX Motherboards
The top-end mATX platform is the ASUS P12R-M/10G-2T. The base “P12R” may make one think that this is simply a mATX version of the P12R-E series, but that is not exactly the case. Although they are similar, the P12R-M/10G-2T uses the Intel C252 PCH. As such, we get two fewer SATA III ports (six total) and only one M.2 slot. With the 10G-2T, we know we are getting dual 10Gbase-T based on the Intel X710 chipset. With the mATX form factor, there is less space, so using the lower-cost chipset can make sense since components may not be easily placed.
As with the ATX motherboards, we get a 1GbE version, again with the Intel i210 called the ASUS P12R-M. It is good to see ASUS using the better supported Intel i210 instead of the PCH’s i219 MAC here for compatability.
One other item given up for the smaller form factor is that there is only one PCIe slot and that slot is limited to M.2 2280 (80mm.) There is a bit of a trade-off for the smaller form factor.
The RS300-E11-RS4 and RS300-E11-PS4 1U servers seem to be based on the mATX platforms with the RS4 having redundant power supplies and the PS4 having a single power supply.
Something else that is really interesting with the ASUS offerings is that ASUS is highlighting that it has a FPGA for the Intel PFR feature. Intel’s current generation solution spanning up to the dual Ice Lake servers is to use a FPGA as the platform Root-of-Trust. For organizations that want this feature for Ice Lake system parity or just for this class of server, that may be a reason to look at the ASUS offerings since not all motherboards have this.
Overall, ASUS has some interesting server platforms but we are certainly intrigued by the P12R-I mITX solution coming.