Supermicro X12SCA-F Market Perspective
At STH, we have been covering this space since the Intel X3400 series which means over a decade. Intel is returning to competing with AMD on the desktop side, and that is forcing the workstation/ server-side to get more competitive. As a result, we see that Intel is using a very simple pricing strategy compared to what we have seen in the past. Intel is still extracting value from higher-performing parts, but there is no longer a 2x price premium for a few hundred MHz on a quad-core part.
For the Supermicro X12SCA-F, this is very important. There are buyers who have purchased the -F Supermicro platforms in this segment for years and they are now getting generational performance gains that far exceed what happened in this segment for the better part of a decade. While AMD is not really competing in this segment, the impacts spill over to these platforms and are providing an indirect boost.
To us, the Supermicro X12SCA-F is probably the platform we would choose over the X12SAE we reviewed previously. To be fair, we are the site that does server reviews so the prospect of having the BMC is highly attractive. For our readers, this simply means that this platform can be deployed more like a server which is a big bonus. A common model has been to migrate primary workstations to server roles, and this is a motherboard that can service both use cases well.
This is a platform that many STH readers will have owned a predecessor to at some point. The Xeon E3-1200 series is popular because it allows for small, quiet, and power-efficient servers to be built for the edge. While the Xeon W-1200 series and the Supermicro X12SCA-F bring more to the table than previous generations, this traditional segment is not scaling as fast as we are seeing modern large servers. Newer generations of large servers are becoming so large that it is going to be impractical to migrate them to edge deployments. That is the true opportunity of the X12SCA-F.
This is certainly a funny motherboard. It straddles the line between workstation and server by using a workstation Xeon W-1200 series processor along with a server management function.
At the same time, maybe being a longtime STH reader before starting to write for STH, this resonates with me. This is a successor to the Xeon E3-1200 motherboards I have personally owned several of. It has new features like 2.5GbE which is a break from the dual 1GbE options that have been in this space for years. There are fun features like the gaming BIOS and PCIe and DIMM reinforcements. Onboard audio and a useful amount of USB connectivity are welcome on any edge system workstation or server. Yet, when I look at the overview picture, this still looks like a traditional Supermicro server motherboard that we have been using for years, just with a few nice to have features.