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Inside the New Platform

In the previous article, we explored just how fast the i7 is and realized that it will not be a cheap upgrade. Today, we will see what Supermicro has brought to the table with its motherboard line-up for the i7.

To this day, there is only one chipset that supports the Core i7 processor (Intel x58), which Supermicro has introduced on eight new motherboards. In addition to the x58 chipset, the new boards will include an improved SATA Raid controller (Intel ICH10R) with at least six SATA ports. All boards will also share up to 24GB of DDR3 memory support and two Intel Gigabit LAN ports. Below, we discuss many of the other model-specific features that Supermicro brings us with this line.

Supermicro i7 Compatible Motherboard Highlights

Below are some highlighted features of Supermicro’s new line of i7 compatible motherboards.

  • C7X58 will be the board for the heavy gamers out there. Using two x16 PCIe 2.0 slots (also single x4 PCIe slot), it supports both SLI and Crossfire configurations. This board will also feature a Realtek 7.1 high def. audio on board for those high end surround sound systems.
  • X8SAX is very similar to the previous board, except with an addition of two PCI-X 64-bit slots for many server add-in cards. This model will not support SLI or Crossfire (still has same PCIe ports as C7X58 though) and will target a more server oriented client.
  • X8ST3-F is packed with many different features that are designed for a server environment. It will have an onboard LSI 8 port SAS controller, onboard Matrox VGA, and an Integrated IPMI management card with KVM support (allows access of the system through LAN anywhere in the world). As for the PCIe slots, it will have three of them: x16, 2x x8, and a x4
  • X8STi-LN4 will be the only board that packs four Intel Gigabit LAN ports, (all other boards have two). It also has Matrox onboard VGA and x16 and x8 PCIe ports.

These are just four out of the eight new boards introduced. The other models (X8STE, X8STi-3F, S8STi-F, X8STi) are just simplified versions of those ones described here.

Our Outlook

There is no doubt that Intel has created a monster processor that not only dominates its predecessor, Core2 Duo, speed wise, but also introduces a new chipset platform. The introduction of triple channel DDR3 and the return of hyper-threading will allow users to break performance records in multi-tasking with servers and graphic workstations. Supermicro has sweetened the deal by integrating new features, such as IPMI and SAS controllers, into its new i7 motherboards.

In short, the i7 is packed with features and very attractive to any type of Supermicro Superserver where performance matters. The real question that we always find ourselves asking whenever a new product arrives,  “is it really worth upgrading?” Unfortunately, the i7 is not compatible with older platforms and is certainly priced higher as well. There’s no doubt, that this will be an expensive upgrade. But, all things considered, we think it’s worth it. Whether you are using the an AMD solution or Intel’s older Core2 Duo, the i7’s performance leaves them both in the dust. For those users who are satisfied with their current system’s performance, there is really no reason to upgrade, however I don’t see the prices on the i7 coming down anytime soon, so if you are looking for some serious performance gains, there is no reason to hesitate.

Are you ready to make the jump to i7 for your Supermicro machines? Have you already done it? Love it? Hate it? Let us know in the comments section.

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