Supermicro X11SCL-IF Block Diagram
Since this is an Intel Xeon single-socket system, the topology is very straightforward. There is a single NUMA domain. Instead, we wanted to focus on the block diagram:
As you can see, the Intel C242 PCH handles most of the I/O. The CPU interfaces directly with the PCIe Gen3 x16 slot, the two DDR4 memory channels, and the PCH. From there, the PCH handles the remainder of the system I/O including the 1GbE Intel i210-AT NICs, NVMe M.2 slot, and SATA. A difference we see in larger servers, such as those based on Xeon Scalable, is that often high-speed networking and NVMe storage will both go directly to the CPUs PCIe lanes. In platforms such as Xeon D-2100, D-1500, and Atom C3000, there is no separate PCH as we have with Socket H4. Integrating the PCH means those platforms have more PCB space available as there is no need to add a PCH. On the other hand, the X11SCL-IF benefits from having a socket which makes deployment much easier.
In some ways, the X11SCL-IF is a boring product. That is exactly what makes the motherboard so great. While other motherboards try to differentiate by integrating features that raise costs, the X11SCL-IF does not engage. Instead, the X11SCL-IF is designed to be a higher-volume mainstream platform that offers all of the base functionality one may need in a server while controlling costs.
For many in the market who only need to attach one or a handful of drives to a server, who just need connectivity, yet not the fastest networking, the X11SCL-IF is a great tool. Using an mITX form factor allows deployment in a wide range of chassis giving it ultimate flexibility. What some call boring, a huge portion of the market calls perfect when it comes to servers.
With support for CPUs ranging from the Intel Pentium Gold G5420 dual-core processor to the Intel Xeon E-2288G high-speed 8-core CPU, one gets a wide range of CPUs that can be used in this platform. This range is much broader than in the Xeon E3 era for this segment where top-end SKUs only ranged up to quad-core models. As a result, the X11SCL-IF can cover a wider range of deployment scenarios than its predecessors.
In our testing, the Supermicro X11SCL-IF performed flawlessly. It is compact and supports a wide range of processors. Components used such as the Intel i210-AT NICs are widely used and thus are well supported in every major OS out-of-the-box. While the X11SCL-IF may not be the flashiest motherboard out there, it is a great mainstream mITX server solution.