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Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 Review – Awesome!
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Review

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 Review – Awesome!

by October 9, 2014
Positives

7x Intel gigabit Ethernet ports. 3 LAN bypass NIC pairs. Low-power Intel Atom C2758 (Rangeley) 8-core processor with Intel QuickAssist. Four full-size DDR3 DIMM slots. SATADOM, SuperDOM and mSATA embedded drive capabilities.

Negatives

After weeks of testing the best negative we could come up with is that it does require a non-standard Supermicro X9 rear I/O backplane. Of course, there are enclosures and IO shields for the motherboard and there are 8x network ports so it makes sense.

Rating
Our Rating
Design & Aesthetics
10
Performance
10
Feature Set
10
Value For The Application
9.5
Bottom Line

The Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 combines an 8-core Intel processor with QuickAssist acceleration along with 7 gigabit NICs and out-of-band management

9.9
Our Rating
You have rated this

Today we have a review of the Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758. If nothing else from this review you are going to see what may just become the hottest network appliance platform for applications such as vyatta, pfsense and other embedded network appliance applications. Supermicro has an appliance with seven Intel-based gigabit NICs plus an additional out-of-band management NIC. Six of the gigabit NICs can operate in bypass mode. This is combined with an 8-core Intel Atom C2758 processor with QuickAssist. QuickAssist is a functionality Intel is pushing that has capabilities to enable faster encryption. Intel has demoed the functionality under Linux doing OpenSSL acceleration which is becoming an ever increasingly more prominent network function. Supermicro already has a A1SRi-2758F platform which we reviewed and has been extremely popular for its quad port NIC. The A1SRM-LN7F-2758 takes the network platform to the next level and is an awesome network appliance building block.

Test Configuration

Our test configuration was very simple. The Intel Atom C2758 comes embedded in the motherboard itself. As a result, the platform is very simple to work with.

  • Motherboard/ CPU: Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 with embedded Atom C2758
  • RAM: 2x 8GB  DDR3L 1600MHz
  • SSDs: 1x Crucial M500 120GB mSATA SSD, 4x Intel S3500 240GB SSD

While this may not seem like an enormous configuration, it is fairly high-end for what would be required by most appliances.

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 Overview

The first aspect of the motherboard is that it is a mATX form factor but only measures 8.0″ x 9.6″ in dimensions. Supermicro does include full-length DDR3 DIMM slots so there is no need for SODIMM memory here. The platform comes with a 1U passive heatsink on the CPU and at 20w there is only a bit of airflow required to keep the system running cool.

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 Overview

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 Overview

In terms of expandability there is a single PCIe 2.0 x4 electrical (x8 physical) slot that is open-ended. One could, in theory fit a larger PCIe x16 physical card in the slot. That is a great design feature.

The platform also includes an array of storage options. There are six SATA ports, two SATA3 6.0gbps ports and four SATA2 3.0gbps ports. Supermicro has both their SuperDOM and SATADOM options as well as a Type-A internal USB header. Those allow for low footprint boot devices to be used and are very popular for applications such as hosting base hypervisors such as VMware ESXi.

One of the SATA ports (SATA0) can be re-directed through the mSATA slot. For embedded applications, being able to use a mSATA option means that one can use a fairly large disk in a very compact chassis.

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 storage

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 storage

We snapped a picture of the platform with a Crucial M500 120GB mSATA drive along with RAM. One can see the overall platform remains extremely compact.

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 with mSATA SSD

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 with mSATA SSD

Here is a quick BIOS shot using that Crucial mSATA SSD as a boot device option. This is better for higher-capacity/ boot drive applications where a generally smaller and lower write endurance USB boot device or DOM would otherwise be used.

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 boot from mSATA drives

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 boot from mSATA drives

Now for the serious business end of the A1SRM-LN4F-2758: networking. There are a lot of ICs and components here. Some of the larger ones are the Marvell Alaska PHY for the Intel Atom C2758’s onboard Intel i354 controller. We have covered this topic extensively but to the OS, this is an Intel NIC, not a Marvell NIC. The Intel i354 controller supports four of the motherboards network ports. To the right of the Marvell chip is the Intel I350-AM2 controller. That controller controls two of the network ports. The final data NIC is next to the large block of black and white components Supermicro uses on their extended life embedded communications platforms, and is an Intel i210-AT NIC.

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 NICs and PCIe

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 NICs and PCIe

For those curious, the ASPEED AST2400 is the BMC that provides everything from out-of-band management to VGA output.

Now to the rear IO panel. There first NIC atop two USB ports is the OOB IPMI management NIC. To the right are two USB ports with another RJ-45 connector atop. This connector is wired to the Intel i210-AT NIC. That is important because the designers have visually made it very easy to see the two NICs which do not have bypass adapter options. The next six Ethernet ports are the bypass adapter pairs controlled by the Intel i354 and i350-am2 NICs.

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 rear IO

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 rear IO

There is also a VGA connector for video out. This is the first Intel Atom C2000 series platform we have seen with such an extensive network array. This is combined with Rangeley’s network acceleration function, high-end embedded components and this is likely the top Rangely platform available today.

Network Adapter BIOS Settings

Although this is not a standard part of our reviews, we did want to show off what the network options look like from a BIOS perspective. One can see that all seven of the data NICs can have Option ROMs enabled. One can, for example, use the i210 based NIC to PXE boot images. PXE booting allows the platform to have even fewer potential components that can fail (e.g. disks.)

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 7 LAN in BIOS

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 7 LAN in BIOS

There is a unique feature to this platform which is the LAN Pair Work Mode. One can set LAN functions from standard “Normal” mode to bypass mode here.

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 NIC in pair mode

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 NIC in pair mode

Selecting the LAN pair one can set each of the three NIC pairs to bypass mode individually.

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 NIC normal bypass passive

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 NIC normal bypass passive

Overall, bypass modes are very easy to configure.

Thermal Results

To capture these images we utilize our FLIR Ex series professional thermal imaging camera and turn on FLIR’s MSX enhancements so we can see components outlined clearly. We put the system under 100% CPU load for a period of 24 hours to let “heat soak” set in prior to taking the images.

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 Thermal

Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758 Thermal

The CPU heatsink is very cool. The NICs are running relatively cool. Overall this is an excellent result for an embedded platforms.

Software and Management

Supermicro’s IPMI and KVM-over-IP as described a few times on this site, allows for a lot of deployment flexibility. Things such as fan speeds, chassis intrusion sensors, thermal sensors, and etc. can be monitored remotely. Alerts can be setup to notify the admins of issues. Beyond this, the functionality also allows for remote power control. You can do remote power up, power down, and reset of the server in the event that it becomes unresponsive. In fact, the test system has never had a keyboard, mouse, CD/DVD ROM, or monitor hooked up to it, even after multiple BIOS tweaks and operating system/ hypervisor installations.

Supermicro Mount Images on IPMI 2.0

Supermicro Mount Images on IPMI 2.0

Another important feature is the ability to remotely mount CD images and floppy images to the machine over the dedicated management Ethernet controller. This keeps maintenance traffic off of the primary Intel NICs. At the same time it removes the need for an optical disk to be connected to the Supermicro motherboard.

Conclusion

Overall, this is going to be the top Rangeley motherboard for network appliances. We have reviewed Intel Atom C2000 based platforms from several vendors now and in terms of being a network appliance, this is nothing short of awesome. In testing we were able to run pfsense both bare metal and in hypervisors, vyatta, linux-based firewalls and etc.  The platform ran cool, was stable for the few weeks of testing thus far and is extremely compact. In summary, this product has received one of the highest ratings this site has given out in over five years of product reviews. We review many platforms with easy substitutes, however there is nothing comparable, from a networking perspective, to the Supermicro A1SRM-LN7F-2758.

Join the forum thread started on this platform to discuss this motherboard that has additional information.

About The Author
Patrick Kennedy
Patrick has been running ServeTheHome since 2009 and covers a wide variety of home and small business IT topics. For his day job, Patrick is a management consultant focused in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about basic server building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.
23 Comments
  • Jon
    October 9, 2014 at 7:08 am

    WOW! This is %#$!% awesome! One problem. I can’t buy them. Darn your pre-release press samples.

    Do you know the standard chassis for them?

    • whatever
      October 10, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      Whether this motherboard is awesome or not depends on its price. ServeTheHome’s recent reviews almost always avoid transparent pricing on the hardware it is revewing, which is disappointing. I remember when ServeTheHome first started, Patrick was writing articles on how to do DIY JBODs and how to buy the cheapest good deals off of ebay.

      Just to point out the obvious. Patrick, can you tell me how HP’s moonshot ARM server cluster, or a motherboard with 7 gigE NICs is relevant to ServeThe”Home”?

  • Michael Blackman
    October 9, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Fascinating piece of hardware! I want one.

  • Mike
    October 10, 2014 at 5:48 am

    A question: what do you use all those NICs for? I have seen quad NIC boards that are quite expensive. Why would anyone want a quad NIC board, or seven NICs? What are use cases? And no home user wants that many nicks, no?

    • Tighu R
      October 10, 2014 at 7:35 am

      Bypass adapters! You need 2 NICs per pair. One iSCSI/ PXE boot for provisioningor even better for a heartbeat interfact.

      Then 2-3 for bypass pairs from your router to the rest of your LAN.

      Even 4 on the other versions is easy. 2 WAN connections on each and 2 LAN connections lets you get some redundancy.

      Nice review. I can’t find them anywhere though.

      • b3nz0n8
        October 12, 2014 at 10:56 pm

        US $499.99

        Embedded Communication Rangeley 3 pair LAN Bypass

        Key Features
        1. Intel® Atom processor C2758, SoC, (Rangeley), 20W 8-Core, 2.4GHz
        2. Up to 64GB DDR3 1600MHz ECC or non-ECC UDIMM
        3. 7x GbE LAN including 6 ports LAN bypass (SW programmable) ports with SoC I354, I350-AM2 and I210-AT
        4. IPMI 2.0 with shared LAN
        5. 2x SATA3 ports, 4x SATA2 ports
        6. 1x PCI-E 2.0 x4 (in x8) slot
        7. 7x USB 2.0 ports
        8. 12V DC or ATX Power options
        9. Operating Temperature: 0°C – 60°C
        10. 7-Year product life

        Links & Resources

        Motherboard Manual

        Update Your BIOS

        IPMI Firmware

        Download the Latest Drivers and Utilities

        Download Driver CD

        OS Compatibility

        Product SKUs

        MBD-A1SRM-LN7F-2758 -B
        A1SRM-LN7F-2758 (Bulk Pack)

        Physical Stats

        Form Factor
        mATX
        Dimensions
        8.0″ x 9.6″ (20.32cm x 24.38cm)

        Processor/Cache

        CPU
        Intel® Atom™ Processor C2758 (formerly Rangeley)
        CPU TDP 20W (8-Core), 2.4GHz
        FCBGA 1283
        System-on-Chip

        System Memory

        Memory Capacity
        4x 240-pin DDR3 UDIMM socket
        Supports up to 64GB DDR3 ECC or non-ECC memory
        Memory Type
        1600/1333MHz ECC or non-ECC DDR3 SDRAM, 240-pin gold-plated DIMMs, x8 width only
        DIMM Sizes
        16GB, 8GB, 4GB, 2GB
        Memory Voltage
        1.5 V, 1.35 V

        On-Board Devices

        SATA
        SoC SATA3 (6Gbps), SATA2 (3Gbps)
        Network Controllers
        Quad GbE LAN w/ Intel C2000 SoC i354 – 2 pairs LAN bypass
        Single GbE LAN w/ Intel i210-AT
        Dual GbE LAN w/ Intel Ethernet controller i350-AM2 – 1 pair LAN bypass
        IPMI
        Support for Intelligent Platform Management Interface v.2.0
        IPMI 2.0 with virtual media over LAN and KVM-over-LAN support
        Aspeed AST 2400 BMC
        USB 2.0
        C2000 SoC
        Video
        BMC integrated Aspeed AST2400

        Input / Output

        Serial ATA
        2x SATA3 (6Gbps) ports
        4x SATA2 (3Gbps) ports
        LAN
        7x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports with shared LAN IPMI 2.0
        USB
        7x USB 2.0 ports (4 rear, 1 Type A, 2 via header)
        Serial Port
        2x Fast UART 16550 Serial Port (1 rear with RJ45, 1 via header)
        DOM
        1x SATA DOM (Disk on Module) power connector
        1x SuperDOM Supermicro SATA DOM with built-in power connector
        VGA
        1x VGA Port
        Others
        TPM 1.2 header

        Chassis ( Optimized for A1SRM-LN7F-2758 )

        1U Chassis
        SC510 (rev.N required), SC512, SC813M/TQ
        2U Chassis
        SC823M/TQ

        Expansion Slots

        PCI-Express
        1x PCI-E 2.0 x4 (in x8) slot

        System BIOS

        BIOS Type
        128Mb SPI Flash EEPROM with AMI UEFI BIOS
        BIOS Features
        Plug and Play (PnP)
        DMI 2.3
        ACPI 5.0
        USB Keyboard support
        SMBIOS 2.7.1
        UEFI

        Management

        Software
        IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) v2.0
        SuperDoctor® 5
        Watch Dog
        NMI
        SUM
        Power Configurations
        ACPI / ACPM Power Management
        Main Switch Override Mechanism
        Power-on mode for AC power recovery

        PC Health Monitoring

        Voltage
        Monitors for CPU Cores, +1.8V, +3.3V, +5V, +12V, +5V Standby, VBAT, Memory Voltages.
        FAN
        Total of 3x 4-pin fan headers
        3x fans with tachometer status monitoring
        Status monitor for speed control
        Status monitor for on/off control
        Low noise fan speed control
        Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) fan connectors
        Temperature
        Monitoring for CPU and chassis environment
        CPU thermal trip support
        LED
        System Overheat LED
        Other Features
        Chassis intrusion detection
        Chassis intrusion header
        Intel® QuickAssist Technology
        3x pairs software programmable GbE LAN Bypass ports
        12V DC or ATX power option

        • Amit
          October 13, 2014 at 8:25 am

          @b3nz0n8 I wonder if that is still gouging pricing? At $499 I might bite though. I mean, $160 premium but I’d get the 3 extral lan ports, msata slots and save $45 on memory with full dimms rather than sodimms. Almost a wash in my book.

  • Peter
    October 10, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Terrific piece of hardware! Hope the price will be nice soon too 😉

    If Zyxel would use this MB in their USG range, it would be an awesome piece of networking hardware combined with rock solid software. If only…

  • captain crunch
    October 12, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    Can someone please explain what bypass and passive nic modes are?

    Also why would there be a need to use an external router with this board in a home environment ? Surely the whole point of it, in that setting, is to perform the routing/firewalling/etc. for your home. What else would you use all those nics for?

    Lastly, shame there are no power-at-the-wall measurements.

    • Amit
      October 13, 2014 at 8:23 am

      Bypass is useful if you have like a firewall, squid, snort etc service box. The premise is that if you have NICs set to bypass, and the server goes down, traffic will still pass through the box. So like, your box flips out, reboots for updates or turns off and you can still pass traffic.

      So this is the equivelant of the A1SRi-2758F in some ways since with bypass you get 3x lan + 1x management + 1x lan for storage if you netboot.

  • Jake T
    October 15, 2014 at 8:53 am

    +1 Amazing. If they can get the price to $400 or less that’d be amazing.

  • diverge
    October 16, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Seems like the one guy supply these in the US just jacked up his price to $550. It’s an interesting piece of hardware, but I’ll wait until it hits retail.

  • Mark
    November 3, 2014 at 6:51 am

    Any actual stores selling these things yet? Still only finding eBay listings from 1 guy for 550$.

    • Mark
      November 6, 2014 at 9:53 am

      For those that care I have contacted SuperMicro determined where to buy the board. I was directed toward SuperBiiz… There was some confusion but they will be getting some boards in the next week or so. Demand is apparently very high. Board cost is just over 400$ shipped.

  • Esxi Junior
    November 20, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Hi All,

    I am wanna build a server and play around with Esxi on this board but can’t seem to find the board in VMWare compatibility list, will it board run ESXi?

    I am new to wmware, looking to build a server vm and a couple of desktop vm’s. Keeping it all low power. Shouldn’t be a problem?

    Your inputs will be appreciated! Regards

    • Nonya
      December 6, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Most likely will run esxi. However, will have the same problem all intel c2750 and c2758 processors have which is the lack of support for vt-d. So for me as a virtualization person.. I would not use these boards for storage like stuff or anything I wanted to pass hardware naively to the vm. Other than that these boards will be great for a lot of other possibilities. If your just going to use it as a standard esxi host and dont care to directly pass hardware to the vm then no worries.

    • Adam Young
      December 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      I just bought this board from Superbiiz. I am running 16 GB of DDR3-1600 ECC unbuffered (2x8GB), a PMC 6405e RAID controllor with 2 x WD Black 4TB disks in a RAID1, and am booting ESXi 5.5 off of a 60 GB Axiom SSD connected to the local SATA controller over one of the 6 Gbps interfaces. There were zero hitches! Very pleased with the low-cost low-power setup!

  • whmcr
    December 17, 2014 at 7:20 am

    I’ve just received one of these in the UK and can say I’m very much so impressed. The board has a plethora of BIOS options, and it works as well as I’d expect it to. the Board works great in CentOS7.

  • Boris
    December 23, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Hi All,

    Has anybody found a way to get this motherboard in Canada?
    I called one reseller documented on Supermicro website but they could not find this reference on their ordering system for Supermicro…

    Let me know if anybody has found a place.

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