Today we are reviewing the asrockrack motherboard, which is designed for those who build a server for Big Data or a data storage system for hundreds of Terabytes. The EPC621D6U-2T16R model resembles the previously reviewed EPC612D4U-2T8R for Socket 2011-3, but with the only difference that this time the manufacturer did not limit itself to an outdated platform. Just imagine, the EPC621D6U-2T16R motherboard allows you to connect 30 (thirty) SATA devices, plus an NVME disk and a USB flash drive.
That is, you can connect all the 3.5-inch front 4U compartments of the case with just one Board, so there will still be free channels for SSDS placed inside or behind. And not to be short, you have a Slimlink port for connecting NVME U2 drives, you have a download from SATA DOM, and two 10-Gigabit RJ45 ports for connecting to your infrastructure, all in MicroATX format. Of course, with this announcement, this Board is asking for the build, but let’s first find out why it is exactly like this.
CPU - LGA3647 Xeon Scalable
In general, if the motherboard has many channels for connecting SSD/HDD, it is most likely created for storing information, not for processing it.
Today, both Intel and AMD have special low-cost processors for storage applications, such as the Xeon-D or EPYC 3000. If you do not get involved in the eternal dispute “Intel vs AMD”, then choosing a discrete processor Xeon Scalable gives you the following advantages:
- first, you have a 6-channel memory controller versus a 4-channel Xeon-D controller
- second, you have the Intel c621 South bridge that has 16 SATA channels with software RAID support
- third, you can use the cheapest Xeon Bronze 3104 processor with 6 cores, support for the cheapest ddr4-2133 ECC Reg memory and a frequency of 1.7 GHz without Turbo Boost. Its power is quite enough for a file server, and it is cheaper than Xeon-D.
In general, the idea of building a storage unit on a 6-core Xeon Bronze is also interesting because this processor has a very low power consumption, around 50 W, so in a normal server, it may be enough for a passive radiator, such as Supermicro SNK-P0068PS, which will allow you to build a very quiet data storage system that can be kept in an open cabinet in Open Space. When choosing a cooler, keep in mind that ASRock Rack EPC621D6U-2T16R has a Narrow ILM socket, and if you still do not know how this socket differs from Square ILM, I recommend reading our review of coolers for Xeon Scalable. Intel’s Junior 6-core processors have 48 PCI Express channels, the same number as the top-end Xeon Gold and Platinum, so you don’t lose anything in terms of connections.
Of course, you can install here at least the most powerful 28-core CPU, 6-phase VRM modules are ready for high load, but this decision is hardly justified from the point of view of storage. The manufacturer has not released a separate list of compatibility with processors, and this usually means that the entire Skylake series up to Xeon Platinum 8280 is supported.
By the way, I just want to note that the Board has a simpler memory power filtering scheme than say a two-processor monstrous EP2C621D12-WS for workstations. It is understandable: the MicroATX format is so small, and you have to save space on the motherboard. The processor uses a 6-phase power supply and a 2-phase power supply for memory modules, and the manufacturer claims support for DDR4 ECC RDIMM with frequencies from 2133 to 2933 MHz. The latter works with processors based on the Cascade Lake architecture and the latest BIOS versions.