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So, you’ve decided to buy a Supermicro X11 Xeon E3 v5/6 board...

So, you’ve decided to buy a Supermicro X11 Xeon E3 v5/6 board...

In case someone still doesn't get the reference, click here.

Now that Xeon E3 v5 is here, motherboard manufacturers have finally released their server lineups. Much like the Supermicro X10 guide, the purpose of this guide is to clarify the differences between the various options offered by Supermicro. Workstation boards and models designed for legacy applications (PCI and/or PCI-X slots) and boards with proprietary sizes are not considered, though some workstation models may be of interest, should a good deal be available.

Note that this document only covers motherboards with LGA1151 sockets and the C232/C236 PCH, which are compatible with Xeon E3 v5 and v6, Core i3 6xxx and 7xxx processors, as well as Celeron and Pentium parts of the same family. These boards do not support Coffee Lake and newer CPUs, known as Xeon E and Core i3 8xxx, in addition to the matching Celeron and Pentium parts - motherboards for these parts are discussed in a separate Resource. X11 motherboards for Xeon-W (LGA2066) or Xeon Scalable (LGA3647) are not included - the former because there are very few models to choose from and no server boards, the latter because it's a much more complicated platform with many more variables. If you have questions about either of these platforms, please start a new thread in the hardware section of the forum.

The full comparison is presented below, for prospective purchasers and for troubleshooting. For discussion, please use the forum thread linked below:
https://forums.freenas.org/index.php?threads/so-you’ve-decided-to-buy-a-supermicro-x11-board.39549/

Baseline features
Supermicro opted for a baseline closer to the X10SLL+-F/X10SLM+-F/X10SLH-F models for the X11 server motherboard lineup:

· Standard four DIMM slots, for up to four DDR4 16GB UDIMMs (64GB total RAM)
· IPMI provided by an ASpeed AST2400 BMC, with dedicated IPMI LAN port
· microATX form factor
· Dual Intel i210-AT GbE adapters
· Leftover PCI-e connectivity exposed in standard slots
· 5x USB 3.0 ports and 6x USB 2.0 ports
· C232 boards provide 6x SATA 6Gb/s ports
· C236 boards provide 8x SATA 6Gb/s ports and additional PCI-e connectivity

X11SSL-F
The X11SSL-F employs a C232 PCH and is therefore limited to 6 SATA ports, like Haswell/Broadwell systems.

PCI-e 3.0 connectivity is as follows:

· One x16 slot (x8 electrical) from the CPU
· One x8 slot from the CPU
· One x8 slot (x4 electrical) from the PCH

A cost-reduced version without IPMI, X11SSL (no –F) is also available.

X11SSL-CF and X11SLL-nF
Despite the name, these seem to not use the X11SSL-F layout. Feature-wise, they are similar to the X11SLL-F, though.

· X11SSL-CF routes 8x PCI-e 3.0 lanes to an LSI SAS3008 x8 SAS3 controller, partially compensated by an additional x1 PCI-e slot
· X11SSL-nF routes a total of 8x PCI-e 3.0 lanes to two U.2 connectors, allowing for two PCI-e SSDs to be attached via cabling

X11SSM-F
Unlike previous Haswell/Broadwell PCH families (Lynx Point), the Sunrise Point family has only two versions (C232 and C236). For this reason, the X11SSM-F is positioned differently than the X10SLM+-F.

By employing the C236 PCH, the X11SSM-F provides 8 SATA ports, allowing for a typical 6-drive pool plus two ancillary drives, like SATA DOMs or SSDs for booting, L2ARC, mid-range SLOG devices, or simply larger pools.

PCI-e 3.0 connectivity is as follows:

· One x16 slot (x8 electrical) from the CPU
· One x8 slot from the CPU
· Two x8 slots (x4 electrical) from the PCH

A cost-reduced version without IPMI, X11SSM (no –F) is also available.

The X11SSM-F seems to be based on the same layout of the X11SSL-F.

X11SSH-F
The X11SSH-F is the high-end Xeon E3 v5 board from Supermicro. In practice, feature-wise, it’s very similar to the X11SSM-F. In fact, the only difference is that one PCI-e 3.0 x8 (x4 electrical) slot is exchanged for an M.2 connector (2x PCI-e 3.0).

For the sake of consistency, PCI-e 3.0 connectivity is as follows:

· One x16 slot (x8 electrical) from the CPU
· One x8 slot from the CPU
· One x8 slot (x4 electrical) from the PCH


X11SSH-LN4F
The X11SSH-LN4F is very similar to the X11SSH-F. The only difference is the addition of two Intel i210-AT GbE controllers (total of 4 i210s), using the two PCI-e lanes leftover from the removal of a slot.

X11SSH-TF
The X11SSH-TF uses a different layout than the X11SSH-F (it is similar to the X11SLL-C/F-nF layout, but different). Instead of Intel i210s, it uses the brand-new Intel X550 10GbE controller for two 10GBase-T ports.

The M.2

PCI-e 3.0 connectivity is as follows:

· One x8 slot from the CPU
· One x4 slot (x2 electrical) from the PCH (presumably)

X11SSH-CTF
The X11SSH-CTF is similar to the X11SSH-TF, but adds an LSI SAS3008 x8 SAS3 controller.

This makes the X11SSH-CTF a very interesting board, since its connectivity is as follows:

· Dual 10GbE from an Intel X550 10GbE controller
· 8 SATA 6Gb/s ports
· 8 SAS3 ports (LSI SAS3008)
· 1 M.2 slot backed by PCI-e 3.0 x4

Driver support is in place for all hardware on these boards, with FreeNAS 9.10 and later.
There have been no noteworthy complaints about LSI SAS3 controllers using P9 or newer firmware/drivers and the Intel driver for 10GbE has been updated with support for the X550 controller.

-O vs -B model numbers

Many people get confused with these model numbers when they can only find an X10SL7-F-O, instead of an X10SL7-F, or an X10SLM+-F-B instead of an X10SLM+-F.
All model numbers are exactly as printed in their respective sections. For real products, they get either an -O or a -B appended to them, for retail or bulk packaging, respectively.
An example:
A Supermicro X10SL7-F-O is a retail-packaged X10SL7-F motherboard.
A Supermicro X10SL7-F-B is a bulk-packaged X10SL7-F motherboard.


What's the difference between them? With retail packaging, you get a box, with proper packaging materials. With bulk packaging, you get something along the lines of a static shield bag, a bit of protective foam and some cardboard to wrap it all up.
Author
Ericloewe
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More resources from Ericloewe

Latest updates

  1. Further X11 clarification

    Since there are now X11 server boards using the C24x PCH, I added a clarification explaining...
  2. Xeon-W and Xeon Scalable

    Added a blurb explaining that Xeon-W and Xeon Scalable are not covered.
  3. Minor tweaks

    Tweaked some references to the SAS3008 controller, to clarify its capabilities. Also tweaked...
  4. 10GbE updates

    Much like SAS3, the 10GbE solution used by the X11SSH-CTF is considered reliable these days, so...
  5. SAS3 updates

    Some notices about SAS3 not being mature had been lurking in the document for too long. They...

Latest reviews

Very usefull!
This is what the web site of Supermicro should have done!
Great summary of available supermicro mbs, with helpful added hints.
I've always have quick response anytime I've had a tech question from SM, and my use is mainly personal.
So what if it's 90ish, they are selling product to those who work for a living. (jk)
BTW: SuperMicro is in the top 100, last update 18th, fast growing IT Infrastructure BiZ in the world now, so I would say their site works.
It's a specific, clear and concise overview of the X11 boards, which is exactly what the title's about.
Thank, this helped me a lot :-)
Everything I needed to know about Supermicro's naming convention and the differences between the boards. Quite helpful actually! Thank you!
Nicely put! I have spend many hours to do the same thing to gain those same results as Supermicro's webpages are sooo '90s.
Supermicro's page on their X11 series boards is really tough to slog through; Ericloewe put together a page that makes it *much* easier to understand what the various boards have to offer.
Detailed explanation of the minute differences between motherboard flavors.
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