Today we have something that the STH team has been working on for a few months now, and it is extremely exciting. Namely, we have an upcoming 3.5″ single board computer platform for the embedded market called the Supermicro X12STN-E. This is a small embedded computer that brings the 11th gen Intel Core line to the embedded market with a new set of features. Let us get into this.
As we have been doing with many of our recent pieces, we have a video version of this platform. This is actually not one we planned to do a video on, but we decided to do one late in the process.
As always, we suggest opening this in its own YouTube tab, browser window, or app for the best viewing experience.
Supermicro X12STN-E Hardware Overview
In terms of the system itself, it is called a 3.5″ SBC. We stacked it next to a 3.5″ hard drive, and they are the same size if you want to get some sense of scale.
The board itself has two sides. What we are going to call the top side has the CPU, cooler, I/O ports, and several headers.
Starting with the CPU, the -E designator in X12STN-E means that we have the Intel Core i5-1145GRE. This is a 4-core / 8-thread processor that is codenamed “Tiger Lake”. The 10nm chip is soldered on the motherboard and Supermicro has different options from a Celeron up to a Core i7. One of the big benefits of this generation is the improved Intel Xe graphics and also accelerator features like DL Boost that come with the more modern processor.
As a quick note, Supermicro sells these into the embedded market where another company may provide the chassis/ cooling. As a result, there is a -WOHS or “without heatsink” version of the X12STN platforms as well.
On the edge of the motherboard, we get a single SATA port. The concept here is that this is more of a M.2 platform than a legacy 2.5″/ 3.5″ SATA platform.
Beyond that, we also get a number of headers for serial, USB 2.0, a 4-pin PWM fan header, and a LVDS display header.
Something that was interesting is the power connector. The board is too small for a standard 24-pin ATX or even just a standard 4/8-pin DC input like we have seen on some of Supermicro’s embedded mITX boards. Instead, there is a smaller 8-pin header and that means we need an adapter cable. Here is the cable that would allow you to connect it to many standard PSUs, and there is one that is in the chassis we will show later.
The I/O faceplate for this is rather interesting. We get two 2.5GbE network ports, two HDMI 2.0b ports. Then there are four USB 3.2 Gen2 10Gbps ports. Three are Type-A, one is Type-C. That Type-C port has an alt DisplayPort mode so this small 3.5″ SBC has four display outputs (including the LVDS header seen earlier.) What you will not see is an out-of-band management port nor an ASPEED baseboard management controller on the board.
Getting to the bottom side of the board, we see a lot more. There are three M.2 slots keyed for different devices as well as memory on the bottom of the board. We can even see the SIM card slot.
Memory in this generation is DDR4-3200 and we tested with up to 32GB in each slot for 64GB total.
The M.2 slots all have different keys and sizes. These are:
- M.2 2242/3042/2280 B-Key (USB3.0/2.0, SATA Gen3/PCIe Gen3 x1) with nano SIM holder
- M.2 2230 E-Key (CNVi/PCI-E 3.0 x1/USB2)
- M.2 2242/2280 M-Key (PCI-E 4.0 x4), NVMe support
That gives a lot of expansion capability on the bottom of this motherboard.
The motherboard is important, but it is only part of the solution. Really this board has a chassis that is equally exciting.