The Supermicro 5017A-EF is going to be a server that you hear a lot about over the next few months. Its predecessors, based on the Intel Atom D510 and D525 were extremely popular platforms for low power appliances such as low end dedicated web servers, pfsense appliances, proxy server and low power NAS applications. The new Supermicro 5017A-EF uses the Intel Centerton SoC, specifically the Intel Atom S1260 and promises to lower power consumption. Let’s take a look at what makes up the Supermicro 5017A-EF.
Supermicro originally sent this test unit with a 1TB Western Digital RE4 drive and 2GB of memory. To make a generation-on-generation comparison, we outfit the test system with 8GB of RAM and a SSD. We did grab a few numbers with the 1TB WD RE4 also as this is a typical configuration.
- 1U Barebones: Supermicro SYS-5017A-EF
- Included motherboard: Supermicro X9SBAA-F
- Included CPU: Intel Atom S1260 “Centerton” SoC
- Memory: 8GB Kingston Low-Power ECC 1333MHz DDR3L SODIMM
- Hard Drive/ SSD: WD RE4 1TB or Samsung 840 Pro 256GB
Hopefully this will represent a typical configuration as deployed.
The Supermicro SYS-5017A-EF
The front of the Supermicro SYS-5017A-EF is rather unassuming. There is ample ventailation and standard power/ reset buttons and LEDs.
Inside the Supermicro 5017A-EF is a X9SBAA-F motherboard. With the Intel Atom S1260 Centerton SoC, the mITX motherboard is still packed with components.
Another new feature with the Supermicro X9SBAA-F is a single SODIMM slot. Since this is an Intel Atom S1260 Centerton SoC, it supports an ECC SODIMM. Supermicro provided a 2GB Micron unit however we added a 8GB Kingston Low power ECC SODIMM to maintain parity with our 8GB Intel Atom D525 version. Here we see three benefits: ECC, a single SODIMM and lower power SODIMMs. The last two add another dimension of lower power versus just the Intel Atom S1260 Centerton SoC.
Supermicro decided to use a Marvell 88SE9230 6.0gbps SATA III controller capable of supporting the four SATA ports onboard. While some may be wondering why an ICH9R was not used like last generation, here is an interesting fact: The ICH9R has a 4.3w TDP while the Marvell 88SE9230 consumes ~1w. Another interesting point is that that controller supports Marvell HyperDuo which is an automated SSD + HD storage tiering solution. More on this in a future piece.
The Supermicro 5017A-EF has one feature that is significantly ahead of its predecessor, it includes a new Intel i350-AM2 dual port network controller (2.8w TDP). This change has more ECC than the previous generation’s dual Intel 82574L controllers (0.727w TDP each) and new features like on-chip QoS.
Another major improvement is that the Supermicro 5017A-EF now has a dedicated IPMI port. This allows one to have the Supermicro 5017A-EF management port on a separate physical network.
Expansion is handled via a legacy PCI slot. With the riser, the chassis supports a full height PCI card. Our sense is that this slot will go largely unused at this point. On the other hand an Intel Pro/1000 GT does add another gigabit port to the mix if needed.
In terms of storage, the Supermicro 5017A-EF has spots for dual 3.5” storage and our review sample came with a 1TB WD RE4 drive. Drives are secured by their bottom mounting points. Likewise, there are mounting points for 2.5” drives including SSDs.
The power supply for the unit is a 200w 80+ Gold unit. The PSU can easily power the Intel Atom S1260 as well as a PCI expansion card and two 7,200rpm 3.5” drives. The Gold rating is a major new feature as it will increase efficiency over previous versions. Here are the power consumption figures. Let’s say they are so good, the measurements were taken multiple times.
Power consumption of the unit is awesome. For our power testing we use an Extech 380803 True RMS power analyzer. The Extech is a really nice unit that even records usage over time.With the original Western Digital RE4 1TB drive, we saw some significantly higher power spikes during the spin-up of the 7,200rpm 3.5” drive. In fact, the drive spin up takes more power than the SSD based system at 100% CPU load.
With the SSD, we had awesome power consumption characteristics. Since the SYS_5017A-EF has a dedicated IPMI port, the experience is similar to other Supermicro servers that use the American Megatrends MegaRAC management solution.
We highly recommend Supermicro “F” servers that indicate onboard IPMI as this does make management much easier.
Overall, the Supermicro 5017A-EF appears to be a winner in the segment. Power consumption is awesome! We are going to deep dive into the included Supermicro X9SBAA-F, the Intel Atom S1260 Centerton SoC and setting up appliances with this system in the near future. Overall, the new Supermicro/ Intel platform is a substantial improvement over the previous generation Intel Atom D525 part. At $474 MSRP for a single unit, and given the power consumption profile of the server, this is certainly something that is well suited to a network appliance, low cost and low power file sharing appliance or simple web/ mail server.