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