Supermicro X11DAC BIOS and Remote Management
Remote management access is the same as other Supermicro motherboards, enter the IP address and login with ADMIN/ADMIN and you are in. Note, we suggest changing this login as soon as possible.
The Supermicro X11DAC can run under iKVM or VGA outputs as you would expect systems like this would. However, switching over to graphics cards that provide video output to your displays presents a few extra steps as we found on the X11DAi-N Workstation motherboard.
On the first bootup of the X11DAC, we ran into a common problem with some Supermicro workstation motherboards; we had no video output. When getting our system up and running, we found that before installing your graphics cards connect your machine to your network and bring up iKVM, or by using a VGA monitor connected to the motherboard VGA port. By default VGA Priority is set to Onboard, this will only work with iKVM or VGA. Set VGA Priority to Offboard, save and shut down. You can now install your graphics card and display. Reboot and the system should output to the connected display.
There is also an Auto setting; this worked on our board and allowed us to use a GPU on the next reboot. If you are adding additional GPUs to the X11DAC, you will want to ensure you have this set properly.
Supermicro X11DAC Block Diagram
In complex dual socket servers, the way I/O is mapped can have an impact on performance. To aid our readers’ evaluations, we add block diagrams to our reviews. Here we see the block diagram of the Supermicro X11DAC.
We spot the LSI 3008 SAS3 controller coming off of the first processor (Socket 0), gives SAS3 RAID functions even with only one processor installed. Unlike some competitive platforms, all of the primary I/O is attached to Socket 0. Socket 1 adds compute RAM slots, and additional PCIe functionality. This is our preferred design since it allows for the platform to be functional even with a single CPU installed. For workstation builders, that means you can use the X11DAC as a common platform for single and dual socket workstations and offer an upgrade path to customers without replacing the motherboard.
Our basic test configuration for this motherboard is as follows:
- Motherboard: Supermicro X11DAC Workstation/ Server Motherboard
- CPU: 2x Intel Xeon Gold 6134
- GPU: ASUS Strix GTX1080
- Cooling: Dynatron LGA3647 B5 Narrow
- RAM: 12x MICRON 16GB Low Profile
- SSD: Samsung 256GB
- OS: Windows 10 Pro
Let us move on to our benchmark results.
AIDA64 Memory Test
AIDA64 memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, and Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth.
Cinebench R15 is a rendering benchmark. Here is what we see on the platform:
Geekbench 4 measures the compute performance of your GPU using image processing to computer vision to number crunching.
With PCMark 8 you can test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. PCMark 8 is the complete PC benchmark for home and business.
The X11DAC is our first motherboard to run PCMark 10; we will populate more PCMark10 results as reviews come in, we wanted to show this as another result for comparison:
PassMark PerformanceTest allows you to benchmark a PC using a variety of different speed tests; it tests the entire PC and all its component’s.
Our tests show results in-line with what we would expect from this platform.
The Supermicro X11DAC opens up possibilities for fast storage arrays with the onboard LSI Broadcom SAS3008 HBA, freeing up valuable PCIe slots. One feature we miss a great deal is an M.2 slot found on the X11DAi-N. There is simply no space for this on the X11DAC, so NVMe storage will be added via PCIe expansion slots.
As with most Supermicro motherboards, IPMI/iKVM comes with the board; this is a great way to run headless setups like compute only GPUs. It also means that the system can be installed either desk-side or in a remote access rackmount. Either way, having IPMI/ iKVM means that an IT administrator can remotely access a system bringing the ultimate level of support to users.
We would prefer that the BIOS sets video out as “Auto” instead of “Onboard” by default BIOS settings, this would save the extra steps of connecting to a network and bringing up IPMI to do the switch. Generally, Supermicro sets up these boards with a specific system in mind, so these extra BIOS steps are not a problem unless you want video out from your GPUs.
We would also like to see this motherboard with 10G network capability. With GPUs installed, most of the PCIe x8 slots will be covered leaving few slots for NVMe storage or high-speed networking. Swapping to the Intel C622 or higher chipset would add cost to enable this. There is a practical reason we see why Supermicro did not do this. There is no room for larger SFP+ cages or 10Gbase-T headers on the motherboard. We understand the trade-off.
Overall, the X11DAC is an excellent motherboard with the quality and features we have come to expect from Supermicro products.