At STH, we often branch out and look at unique server solutions for the edge and SMB/ SOHO markets. Many of those solutions have a new feature or gimmick to separate themselves from the pack. There though “the pack” often refers to something exactly like the Supermicro X11SCL-IF we are reviewing here. With the X11SCL-IF we get a single socket mITX Intel Xeon platform that is packed with functionality. Let us take a look.
Supermicro X11SCL-IF Overview
The X11SCL-IF itself is a 6.7″ x 6.7″ mITX motherboard. As such, it can fit in an enormous variety of chassis including the popular Supermciro SC721TQ-250B mini-tower or the CSE-505-203B 1U short-depth front I/O rackmount chassis. Beyond the Supermicro ecosystem, there is an enormous variety of potential chassis out there. Using the mITX form factor means it is immensely flexible.
At the heart of the system is a Socket H4 or LGA1151. This provides support for the Intel Xeon E-2100 and Xeon E-2200 as well as Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron solutions that also use this socket. One can use up to 64GB memory from dual-channel DDR4 DRAM with ECC support.
Onboard storage is provided via four SATA III 6.0gbps ports. Two of those ports are “gold” ports which means they can provide SATADOM power without a cable, although there are headers for cabled power as well. There are certain applications, such as with the SC721TQ-250B chassis, that we actually wish there were two more ports utilized from the Intel C242 chipset so one can have four ports for data and two for boot. Supermicro has motherboards with more storage so the X11SCL-IF is designed as a cost-optimized platform and there is only so much room left on the PCB to place components.
One can also see internal USB 3.0 as well as front panel USB 3.0 headers next to the PCH on the motherboard.
Continuing on the storage focus, we can see a M.2 2280 (80mm) slot that can operate either as SATA or using PCIe 3.0 x4. This is useful, for example, if you want to add NVMe storage to the platform.
The other expansion slot is a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot. This is a full x16 electrical slot which gives this small platform a lot of expansion capabilities even in small form factors.
We can see the onboard ASPEED AST2500 BMC. This is what people call an “industry standard” management solution that plugs into most management frameworks along with providing local management that we will discuss later. BMC functionality is important in this class of products where remote management is often a required feature.
Just above the BMC, one can see the two Intel i210-AT NICs. These are extremely well supported 1GbE NICs. While they are not necessarily as high-end as the Intel i350, again owing to the cost optimization, they are basically the standard 1GbE NIC of this generation. Each NIC gets its own rear I/O RJ45 port and the third port is for out-of-band management.
Rounding out the rear I/O are legacy serial and VGA ports, as well as four USB ports. Two of these are USB 2.0 and two are USB 3.0 headers.
Overall, this is a very straightforward platform and that is the point. The X11SCL-IF is designed to be a size and cost-optimized solution that fills the need for a basic mITX building block. While heavily customized motherboards can be interesting, these are the types of motherboards that can drive volume.
Next, we are going to look at management features before moving onto performance, topology, and then our final words.