Supermicro X11SRA-F Workstation Motherboard Reviews

In the high-end home sector, the X299 and Core i9 processors and supporting motherboards are hot, and the corresponding workstations and single-channel server product line Intel Xeon W are also coming out. Intel Xeon W positioning is more biased towards workstations, and Apple iMAC Pro also chose Intel Xeon W. Supermicro, the industry leader in server and workstation motherboards, also produced the Xeon W product line, this time bringing a detailed evaluation of the Supermicro X11SRA-F. Of course, as the first introduction of the WS positioning motherboard for the K station, there will be more dry goods, and more WS positioning products will be introduced later.


Unlike Xeon Scalable, which has a multi-product line of gold, silver and copper, the chipset C62x has multiple PCH chipsets. Xeon W is relatively simple, single channel, C422 is a PCH. Let me introduce this Xeon W series first.

In terms of specifications, Xeon W and Xeon Scalable are consistent in PCIE. The CPU directly provides 48 PCIEs, which are divided into 3 groups. Each group of PCIE supports 16x or 4 4x split modes. There is great flexibility on the PCIE channel directly controlled by the CPU.

The Intel chipset C422 is similar to the X299 and Z270. It also uses four DMI 3.0s for uplink and then provides 30 HSIOs. HSIO can be used as PCIE, USB3.0, Gbe or SATA. The biggest difference from the X299 and Z270 is that the C422 can provide up to 8 SATA interfaces, while the first two offer up to six. Therefore, the C422 chip can provide up to 24 PCIE 3.0, 10 USB 3.0, and 8 SATA, but the maximum number of links is limited by 30 HSIOs.

In the Z270 era, everyone will see 24 PCIE 3.0 will be very excited, but often the motherboard can not provide so many PCIE. Let’s take a look at the C422 HSIO map, which is available after all 24 PCIE 3.0. What it looks like

It can be seen that when C422 provides 24 PCIEs, 24 PCIEs occupy 7-30 of HSIO. At this time, there are still 1-6 HSIOs providing 6 USB3.0. That is to say, when the C422 provides the maximum PCIE, only 6 USB3.0 ports remain on the motherboard, and all SATA cannot be used. This is not the result we want to see. Therefore, motherboard manufacturers will often balance between USB PCIE SATA 3 to meet everyone’s needs.

The combination of Xeon W + C422 is compared to his counterpart Core i9 + X299. C422 provides pure ECC and RECC memory support in memory. Similarly, the CPU directly provides 48 PCIEs, four more than the 44 of the i9. In the PCH part, the maximum SATA of the chipset is changed from 6 of the X299 to 8 of the C422.

In general, Xeon W + C422 can be said to be the full version of the X299.

Product analysis

Motherboard box is still Supermicro classic style

The SupermicroUP series server and workstation motherboard are introduced on the back of the box.

Open the box and see the motherboard inside the electrostatic bag.

Take out the motherboard and see the full picture of the motherboard. Change the style of Supermicro’s previous green motherboard. The WS motherboard used a black PCB and the PCIE was metal reinforced. However, it still maintains the consistent simplicity of Supermicro and does not make too much stacking.

On the back of the motherboard, there is no modification such as RGB lights on the home motherboard. Maintain a simple and connotative style

Rear IO interface section. From left to right, PS2 USB2.0 x2, VGA, USB 3.0 x2, 5G Lan, USB 3.1 x2, 1G Lan, USB3.0 x2, audio

In the disk interface part, the C422 chipset provides up to 8 SATA, the X11SRA-F provides 6 SATA, and the remaining 2 SATA are used as PCIE. Two U2 interfaces are also provided, and the U2 interface is provided by PCH C422

The heat sink is mounted on the MOS tube of the motherboard CPU power supply, and the CPU provides 12V single 8Pin. Xeon W does not support overclocking and does not require stacking to meet overclocking requirements.

Remove the heat sink and see the MOS tube. The X11SRA-F uses 5-phase power supply to meet the Xeon W power supply requirements.

The motherboard provides three PCIE 16x all pass-through CPUs and a maximum of 16 16 8 PCIE. PCIE is hardened to ensure that the PCIE slot is secure when installing a professional graphics card.

Between 3 PCIEs, there are 2 M2 slots through CPUs, only supports PCIE 3.0 x4 mode, does not support SATA

Below the largest heat sink is the C422 chipset.

The 5G network interface is provided by Aquantia AQR108. Support 5G 2.5G 1G 100M multimode high speed connection

The Gigabit Ethernet port is provided by the Intel i210, and provides IPMI network connection. The Realtek sound card is arranged in the part close to the interface.

The USB 3.1 interface behind it is provided by Asmedia 3142. 3142 uses PCIE 3.0 x2 uplink

The ASPEED AS12500 provides IPMI remote management and onboard VGA graphics. (The premise of the remote output screen is to use the onboard graphics card, so installing the discrete graphics card remote management will become a black screen)

IPMI is equivalent to the RAM and ROM owned by the stand-alone system on the motherboard.

SuperIO chip, responsible for the basic input and output of the motherboard

Let’s introduce a few more interesting interfaces. NVMI2C, this is used for communication with PCIE to U2 riser card. This board is possible with SuperMicro AOC-SLG3-2E4R.

TB_Header interface, which is to support the ThunderBolt daughter card for this motherboard (current BIOS does not open ThunderBolt support)

I-SOPIO, many friends asked how the onboard SATA controls the indicator light of the SAS hard drive cage. Supermicro gives us the GPIO for controlling the backplane LED. It only needs to be docked with the backplane.

Motherboard jumper section, control whether VGA, IPMI, network card is enabled

Finally, let’s look at the layout of the motherboard provided by Supermicro, and then we analyze it with HSIO.

PCIE 16x 16x 8x and 2 M2 for a total of 48 PCIEs, directly connected to the CPU. The CPU uses DMI 3.0×4 to connect to the PCH. Let’s look at the HSIO usage and link to the PCH.

HSIO 1, 2 = USB 1, 2 = behind the USB 3.0 interface

HSIO 3, 4 = USB 3, 4 = Behind the USB 3.0 interface (HSIO 1-4 provides 4 USB 3.0 behind)

HSIO 5, 6 = USB 5, 6 = front USB 3.0 interface

HSIO 7, 8 = PCIe 1, 2 = Asmedia 3142 = behind USB3.1 Gen2

HSIO 9 = PCIe 3 = BMC (IPMI) (graphics card and remote control)

HSIO 10 = PCIe 4 = AQN108 = 5G network interface

HSIO 11-14 = PCIe 5-8 = U.2

HSIO 15-18 = PCIe 9-12 = U.2 (HSIO11-18 provides 2 sets of PCIE 4x for 2 U.2 interfaces

HSIO 19 empty

HSIO 20 = PCIe 14 = Intel I210 = Gigabit Ethernet Port

HSIO 21-26 = SATA 2-7 = 6 onboard SATA

HSIO 27-30 = PCIE 21-24 = PCIe 4x slot

It can be seen that the Supermicro motherboard almost completely uses the PCIE of the PCH, so it is not the manufacturer that is not lazy, but no HSIO is available. The only HSIO 19 is left blank. It is used to connect the Intel I219LM to the X11SRA-F sister board X11SRA. This means that one PC meets two models. This HSIO is not a waste.


The X11SRA-F BIOS is closer to the BIOS of the home motherboard and does not give us the traditional BIOS of the workstation motherboard. Here are some of the features of the BIOS of the workstation board. The main interface of the BIOS is not much different from the home motherboard, and the basic information of the system is given.

In the advanced settings, the processor settings show basic information and settings for the CPU.

MEI firmware information, MEI firmware is refreshed with the BIOS.

Four DDR4 32G 2400Mhz RDIMMs are installed to see the memory information.

The motherboard supports memory running in Mirror mode, which is simply equivalent to memory RAID. Secure memory data through memory data redundancy. Suitable for use in environments such as in-memory databases where memory security is critical

Memory controller iMC settings

The disk controller settings, previously introduced in the HSIO section, SATA does not have 0 and 1, only 2-7. Everyone set the wrong port number

The PCIE setup section, with the SR-IOV option, supports NIC and graphics SR-IOV virtualization. Really SR-IOV requires the simultaneous support of the device, motherboard, BIOS, and software system. The Supermicro board provides complete support for SRIOV. Each PCIE slot can be set to use the UEFI or Legacy mode self-test and whether to load the BootROM. This part is also more complete than the home motherboard settings.

BMC settings, which are the IPMI settings of the motherboard. IPMI will be introduced later.

IPMI network IP and port settings. Need to set IPMI fixed ip, can be set in this part

Boot option, Supermicro X11SRA – provides UEFI Legacy two full boot modes, so there will be a bunch of boot modes to choose from

Of course, the BIOS refresh is still the same as Supermicro, and you need to use the UEFI SHELL command to refresh, which is not very friendly to users.


Friends who have played the server will be familiar with IPMI. The common HP iLo and Dell iDrac are all enhanced versions of IPMI. The SupermicroWS motherboard also provides IPMI functionality, which greatly facilitates remote rendering and calculation.

IPMI is a BMC chip and a stand-alone system implementation that runs independently. BMC generally takes a basic performance graphics card to complete the server screen output. This is why the SuperMicro X11SRA-F’s Xeon-W can also be VGA output without a core display. Since the BMC is independent of the system, IPMI can restart the system in the event of a system crash or failure, so IPMI is also a lifeline for operation and maintenance. BMC has built-in basic performance graphics card, which not only provides system basic screen display, but also provides remote display of the screen, which is remote management, which makes the remote management server and rendering machine very convenient. On-board a basic performance graphics card, for a friend engaged in artificial intelligence, there is a separate graphics card responsible for interface output. NVIDIA Tesla and NVIDIA Quadro need to turn off the graphics output when calculating the card. At this time, the IPMI onboard graphics can complete the interactive interface output without wasting the ability to calculate the graphics card.

Let’s first look at the IPMI management interface. The home page provides basic information about the system and a screenshot of the current screen.

Through the IPMI you can directly view the hardware information of the entire system, including CPU and memory information. Very convenient in troubleshooting and asset statistics

IPMI also provides reading of all sensors in the system, without the need to enter system and software support, you can quickly know the system temperature and operating status

IPMI provides remote switching power supply function, no need to study network wake-up at all, and it is convenient to directly use IPMI to complete remote booting work.

Finally, the most commonly used feature of IPMI, the graphics card level remote desktop. The BIOS and the installation system can be set directly, which is the underlying remote that the general remote management software cannot provide. What’s more, Supermicro provides HTML5 remote, which makes it easy to install the client. Of course, the remote control screen is output by the graphics card in the BMC, so when the system installs a separate graphics card and the main output graphics card becomes a discrete graphics card, the IPMI remote management function will not see the screen.


Test part, first explain the test platform

testing platform

CPU: Intel Xeon W-2102

Memory: Samsung DDR4 2400 32G RECC x4

Motherboard: Supermicro X11SRA-F

SSD: Intel SSD P3600 1.6T

Task manager

First, the most simple look at the CPU and memory information during the task management period. Xeon W-2102 4 core 4 threads, task manager only shows 4 frames

4 32G memory total 128G complete identification


Look at the CPU-Z information. This CPU is an engineering sample provided by Supermicro, so there is an es mark on the CPU-Z.

CPU cache information

Motherboard chipset information

The memory works in 4-channel mode, DRR4 2400 CL17. However, the server is mainly stable, and super memory generally does not do it.

Memory SPD information is not read correctly for workstation motherboard supported relationships

Just run a minute, everyone is happy.

Device manager

More interesting is that the C422 sata controller will be displayed in the memory controller in the task manager, and the iastore driver used in the home motherboard is still different.


Some sensor information can be read using AIDA, but it is incomplete

AIDA’s IPMI function can read all the information

CPU information, Xeon W-2102, does not support Turbo

The Xeon W2102 has only one memory controller and works in 4-channel mode with a maximum of 2400. Xeon W high-end models will also have 2666 frequency support

Finally, do a memory IO test. RECC memory as always has the phenomenon of slow reading and writing


Using HWiNFO can also not read memory information

HWiNFO reads the CPU information, this small 4 core, TDP put to 140W, is also quite hard

Finally, the PCIE link method can also confirm the above HSIO table. If you are interested in the distribution of the motherboard HSIO and PCIE, you can look at the information on the motherboard and the HSIO map. Also very interesting

Aquantia AQR108

NBase-T has been introduced in the ASUS XG-C100C out of the box test. There is no duplication here, and this motherboard uses a network card that supports NBase-T, and the maximum connection speed is 5Gb/s. Can greatly improve the system data transmission speed.

Next, do a simple test for quantia AQR108, using the switch NETGEAR GS110EMX

Link NETGEAR GS110EMX, check the NIC handshake, you can see the 5G NBase-T link correctly handshake

Transmission speed test

Link the Synology DS3018 (installing the Intel X550 NIC) to another 10G interface on the NETGEAR GS110EMX.



It can be seen that a relatively high read and write speed can be achieved.

to sum up

Supermicro X11SRA-F retains the traditional blood of Supermicro server and adds some elements of high-end home motherboard, making WorkStation no longer feel cold, everyone is more likely to accept, both value and connotation. If you are a little bit interested in the stability of your system, you may wish to pay attention to Supermicro’s WorkStation series, you will see your favorite products.

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