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Supermicro X7SPE-HF-D525 / X7SPA-HF-D525 Thread

Discussion in 'Processors and Motherboards' started by Patrick, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator

    UPS just delivered a second-hand Supermicro X7SPE-HF-D525 that I will be using as a pfsense server. For those wondering the X7SPE-HF-D525 is the slightly elongated version of the mITX X7SPA-HF-D525 motherboard. Other than the length of the board, they are basically the same.

    Quick Specs:

    • Atom D525 1.8GHz dual core CPU (Older versions without the "-D525" were Atom 510 based CPUs and therefore used DDR2 DRAM)
    • 2x DDR3 SODIMM slots supporting up to 4GB (rumor has it 8GB works though)
    • 6x SATA connectors since this Atom is paired with what is basically a Intel ICH9R southbridge. This is much better than the standard NM10 2x SATA ports
    • Dual Intel 82574L Gigabit controllers onboard
    • The HF variants have IPMI 2.0 including KVM-over-IP while the H variants do not (e.g. X7SPA-H-D525 does not while the X7SPA-HF-D525 does)
    More to come!
  2. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator

    Just an update... I've started writing a review for next week.
  3. Metaluna

    Metaluna New Member

    Sounds great. One thing I've always wondered about, since the main motivation for Atom is low power/low heat, is how much extra power the IPMI controller uses.
  4. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator

    Those boards not just use the IPMI controller, but also an ICH9R which is how you get 6x SATA II ports versus the normal Atom D525's NM10 which provides two ports.
  5. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator

    Supermicro X7SPE-HF-D525 and X7SPA-HF-D525 Review posted today. Will update with power consumption soon. I want to make sure my numbers were correct.

    I was very impressed by this board. It is an awesome mini-ESXi/ OpenSolaris board with the addition of supported NICs and southbridge. It is still limited by the D525 though.
  6. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator

    I can confirm, with the -D525 versions of these boards one can go at least up to 8GB of DDR3. That adds a lot of extra capability for ~$20 more. Will post more findings in the follow-up article.
  7. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator

    I posted the power consumption figures yesterday in part 2 of the X7SPE-HF-D525 piece. Also made a quick guide for pfSense setup:
    [​IMG]
  8. john4200

    john4200 New Member

    Supermicro X7SPE-HF-D525 / X7SPA-HF-D525 Thread (CONT)

    I'm not sure why the other thread is closed, but I wanted to comment so here is a continuation thread.

    I just replaced the hardware for my old pfSense firewall/router box, a nearly 4-year-old 1.8GHz Celeron 430 Conroe-L (single core, 35W TDP), with an X7SPE-HF-D525. Interesting upgrade, since both have 1.8GHz CPUs, but the D525 has dual-core and uses considerably less than 35W. And the D525 is on a mini/flex-ITX sized board, so considerably smaller than the micro-ATX board of my old hardware. And the IPMI is a nice upgrade. Both run fanless, so no change there, but overall 4 years makes a big difference -- roughly twice the computational power in less than half the space and at considerably lower power consumption. Price-wise it is about the same.

    I wanted to include a few things that I had to discover the hard way, and maybe some tips that others might find useful.

    First, I remember reading (months ago) on one of the pfSense forums that there are problems with booting pfSense from a USB flash drive. I did not verify this myself since I had a cheap little SSD that I used to boot pfSense. This also had the advantage of leaving the on-board USB port open to use. I have a bunch of Patriot X-mini USB flash drives around the house. It is easy to pull the plastic covers off of them (leaving just a small metal box), then they are even smaller and are easy to stick a label on. I filled one up with YUMI multiboot USB, including FreeDOS, memtest86+, SystemRescueCD, HDT, Debian linux live, etc., and set the BIOS to boot from the USB drive. YUMI has a nice timeout feature where if you do not choose one of the options in 30sec, it will automatically boot the next drive, in this case, my SSD with pfSense. It is quite convenient to be able to access all of that with KVM over IP vi IPMI.

    I wanted to have a separate LAN port for IPMI, so I installed a low profile Intel gigabit network adapter card in the PCIe slot. I brought the system up via KVM over IP using the IPMI port (LAN 1). Then I accessed the Configuration / Network setting, and changed to a static IP rather than DHCP. That was important to do first since my pfSense box is also my DHCP server, and it would not be smart to tie the IP address of the on-board BMC to the DHCP server of pfSense running on the same motherboard! :D After setting the static IP, I made a blunder. I wanted to set the LAN1 port to be used only for IPMI (hopefully make it invisible to the OS), and I noticed the IPMI network configuration page had a choice of Failover (default), Shared, or Dedicated. Ah, I thought, "dedicated" looks like just what I want. Unfortunately, after I set "dedicated", I lost access to the BMC.

    As far as I can tell from reading the extremely terse IPMI manual from Supermicro's extremely hard to find IPMI support page (is this page stealthed? I cannot figure out how to navigate to it from supermicro's home page), the "dedicated" setting is meant for MBs with a separate IPMI LAN port, and since this MB does not have one, it apparently connects the BMC to a black hole. In other words, it is a worse than useless setting, and should never be chosen on this MB.

    But how to reverse my mistake? I needed to download IPMICFG, an obscure piece of software from Supermicro's ftp site. Then I issued the

    IPMICFG -fd

    command to reset everything to factory defaults. Success! I could access the BMC via IPMI again. Then when I did the reconfiguration, I set the IPMI port to "shared". This seemed like the best choice, since the manual says the default "failover" switches between shared and dedicated with priority going to dedicated, and this MB has no dedicated port.

    With that out of the way, everything else went smoothly. I installed pfSense 2.0.1 from a USB flash drive image (using the autodetect feature, I found that the Network adapter was em0, and the LAN2 on-board port was em2) and copied over my config.xml from my old pfSense box, swapped the new box into my network in place of the old, and everything is running smoothly.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012
  9. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator

    John... my bad. I have been doing a lot more on the iPad since I have been in the attic wiring the new house and must have fat-fingered the thread closed. This should be open now. One thing I have been toying with is adding another multi-port NIC card to the box to do what you did. Great advice.
  10. mobilenvidia

    mobilenvidia Moderator

    Just saw over at Gigabyte their version of the board:

    [​IMG]

    No IPMI version though
    Fan cooled CPU vs Supermicro = passive
    2x USB vs Supermicro 8x
    5x SATA and 1x eSATA vs Supermicro 6x SATA
    No serial port
    Intel GMA vs Supermicro Matrox

    Pity the MiniPCIe option wasn't used on the board :(

    As a server the Supermicro with IPMI is the better choice
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
  11. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator

    The other big consideration there is the Intel 82567LM and the fact you can't buy the motherboards easily. I had Gigabyte contact me on their server boards awhile back, but the lack of IPMI options on standard boards, and the limited retail availability make it very difficult to put a piece together. I am a big fan of Gigabyte boards in general, so I would like to see them in the market.
  12. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator

    So interesting note... started losing connectivity for a rack at home. Looks like the pfsense appliance decided that 192 days of uptime was enough time spent as a DHCP server. Rebooted via the still responsive WebGUI an everything worked fine.
  13. lpallard

    lpallard Member

    I do realize nobody has posted here in a while but still I feel to ask: Has anybody seen one of the Supermicro's server based on their X7SPE-HF-D525 motherboards for less than $175US? For example the SYS-5015A-EHF-D525 which would be what Patrick reviewed but comes as a full server Newegg.ca - SUPERMICRO SYS-5015A-EHF-D525 1U Intel Atom D525 Dual Gigabit LAN w/ IPMI Server Barebone

    I understand I wont find such system for my price range, but I am willing to go down the "second hand" road provided it is in excellent shape and I will reuse existing HDD's...

    Unless I wait in 2018 when the prices comes down, I havent seen any of them anywhere.

    Perhaps one of you guys have?
  14. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator

    Not quite there but there is a new version on Amazon for $249US: Amazon.com: Supermicro SuperServer Atom D525 1U Rackmount Server Barebone System, Black SYS-5015A-EHF-D525: Electronics

    Much closer to what you are looking for than NewEgg.

    If you could live without IPMI I might suggest: Amazon.com: Intel D2500CCE Atom D2500 Dual LAN & Dual COM Mini-ITX Motherboard, BLKD2500CCE: Computers & Accessories

    Or just get the Gigabyte motherboard mentioned here: http://forums.servethehome.com/processors-motherboards/2763-gigabyte-ga-c1007un-d.html for $85. Comparable power consumption figures.
  15. lpallard

    lpallard Member

    Absurd, on the Canadian Amazon site, the same thing is $444!!!! We are getting RIPPED off here in Canada....

    I suspect that if I succeed in buying it on the US site, I will be crushed by the proverbial Custom FEES of CANADA! I had my lesson when I ordered a vinyl record from Europe and was charged 55$ for custom brokerage..

    Too bad your suggestion was making sense..

    My intention is to move slowly to a rackmount setup, much less clutter with computer cases and wires everywhere, and less floor space as well.. This machine would be to replace my current pfsense router than approaches 3 years and was probably never intended to run 24/7 considering the multiple power supply failures and other troubles I had so far...Maybe the Gigabyte option is decent enough.. I do appreciate the IPMI especially that pfsense requires a seldom remote reboot once in a while because of package locks or other hiccups.

    Patrick, you can confirm it can take 8GB of RAM?

    The other reason for replacing my current machine is that it has only 4GB RAM and is maxed out with snort and squid.. 8GB would be nice.

    Finally maybe another solution altogether.. ? Im not so experienced with these low power devices but basically I want that future device to :

    Support min. 8GB RAM
    Need only 2 SATA port
    Rackmount format
    1.8GHz CPU is enough..
  16. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator

    It does support 8GB and is running my pfsense.

    If you can get that Gigabyte one might be worthwhile. Lower power, can support up to 16GB and 3 SATA slots. Certainly not "powerful" but for $85 and you could stick a small USB key and two commodity DIMMs and be up and running with it.

    One other thing to consider, the 5015A power supply is actually noisier than you might think otherwise, but has been rock solid. I was going to swap out for a PicoPSU but am now wondering if I should just swap out the entire box for newer generation (Avoton/ Rangeley) hardware. What may set me over the edge is if I stick a dual port Inifiniband adapter into it :)
  17. lpallard

    lpallard Member

    A quick run on the newegg.ca website showed that for $286 I would have

    GIGABYTE GA-C1007UN-D
    PNY XLR8 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
    SUPERMICRO CSE-502L-200B Black 1U Rackmount Mini Server Chassis

    That'd be a brand new machine with the possibility of adding another 8GB in the future if needed... Packages are always getting bigger and more demanding, extra RAM is never bad.

    However, that's a bit over my budget of around 175$, and wouldnt provide the IPMI function..

    I have to think about that... How noisy of the PSU fan of the 5015A??
  18. Jeggs101

    Jeggs101 Member

    Newegg.ca - Athena Power RM-1U100D Black Aluminum / Steel 1U Rackmount Server Case 1 External 5.25" Drive Bays
  19. lpallard

    lpallard Member

    I actually spent a few hours searching on this topic and found a few interesting things.. The D510 I currently use is significantly less performing than the D525 you guys use. However, it seems that the D2700 would be much better than the D525 due to the 32nm architecture... Apparently 23%+ less TDP and capable of higher speeds (2.13GHz) when peak processing is necessary. However, I couldnt find an embedded solution (motherboard with soldered in CPU) that has 2 Gigabit NIC's and all of them seems to support only 4GB RAM.

    The other solution would be something like the solution posted here with the Celeron embedded platform. Higher TDP, but supports 8GB RAM and has double NIC's.

    There is also a need for a 3rd GIgabit port. The reason is that, unless I dont understand pfsense too much, it cannot do DMZ or such on the same physical LAN port.

    Whats bugging me is that I always thought that the celeron cpu's were low end cheap low performance chips... A friend of mine is telling me that Atom chips are actually even "lower end" than celeron. Anybody can agree or disagree with this?

    Ive never build a rack mount cabinet. If I was to buy the celeron based embedded platform that was shown here, would I be able to put it in any (or almost) 1U case? What about PSU? I suppose a 80W PSU would be more than enough? Most 1U cases seems to come with 200W PSU... is that a waste?
  20. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator

    Super busy today but here are a few thoughts:
    Intel's product hierarchy starting with the Atom goes something like this: Atom < Celeron < Pentium < Core< Xeon E3....

    Not perfect but that should give you an idea. Instead of the D2700 you can also look at the Atom S1260 which was an attempt by Intel to move the Atom towards a more SoC design and modern process.

    Both the board mentioned in the thread title and the S1260 will support 8GB of ECC RAM. The new Atom "Avoton" and "Rangeley" processors have major process improvements, support a more modern OOO architecture, have up to 8 threads, and can support 32GB of quad channel DDR3.

    Performance wise, the S1260/ D2700 are faster and lower power parts, but in terms of performance and expand ability they fall well short of the newer platforms.

    Hope others can chime in.

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