Super Micro Computer (SuperMicro) has been a leader in high performance servers and workstations for as long as I can remember. The name has been synonomous with top notch quality and cutting edge performance. Not surprisingly it earned Electronic Design's Best of 2010 Award for its 4U SuperServer 6046T-TUF (Fig. 1). It can handle a pair of Intel's latest Xeon processors (Fig. 2) with up to six cores. The processors support hyperthreading so a dual chip system can handle up to 24 threads. The larger enclosure allows full size adapters for the x8 PCI Express slots like 10 Gigabit Ethernet adapters with I/O virtualization support. It can also handle those custom, full height PCI Express adapters often found in embedded systems. The general system specifications include:

  • 4U rack mount enclosure
  • SuperMicro X8DTE-F motherboard
  • 865W power supply
  • 5 hot-swap 3.5-in drive bays
  • 3 peripheral 5.25-in drive bays
  • Slim DVD drive bay

The system also provides better cooling with hot-swappable fans (Fig. 3). The processor placement on the motherboard lines up with the rear cooling fans so everything can work together to provide plenty of airflow.

The 5 drive SAS backplane (Fig. 4) uses standard SATA cabling making it easy to use third party SATA/SAS controllers. The 3.5-in removable drive bays easily handle the 2 Tbyte Seagate Constellation hard drives (Fig. 5).

The SuperMicro X8DTE-UF motherboard is used in a number of SuperMicro systems and is available separately. Its primary features include:

  • Supports Intel Xeon 5600/5500 processors with 6.4 Gtransfer/s QPI
  • Intel 5520 Tylersburg chipset
  • Up to 192Gbytes, 1333 MHz Register ECC DDR3
  • Dual Intel 82574L Gigabit Ethernet controllers
  • PCI Express slots: x8 (4), x4 (1), x1 (1)
  • Matrox G200eW graphics controller
  • IPMI 2.0 with dedicated LAN suport (optional)

Each processor has half a dozen DIMM slots for memory expansion. The memory and processors are oriented so the processor fans provide airflow across the memory as well. The motherboard supports the UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) specification. This is critical to handling large hard drives and even larger RAID arrays. UEFI can handle the GUID Partition Table (GPT) used on this level of storage. The optional IPMI feature includes KVM support.

The motherboard supports RAID 0, 1 and 5 but it is software-based. It will handle up to six SATA drives. Most systems will likely employ a SAS RAID controller to provide hardware-base RAID support. The system comes with the five drive bays connected to the motherboard's SATA controller. An on-board LSI 2008 SAS controller with RAID support is available as an option on some versions of this motherboard. It handles up to 8 SATA/SAS drives.

The system comes with two serial ports and tend USB ports. One serial port is available on the front panel along with a pair of USB ports.

SuperMicro can provide complete, burned in and tested systems with disks, processors and memory as well the system all by itself.