We’re all familiar with Mr Blurrycam, but now it seems like manufacturers have figured out that this is a good way to put your products out there without revealing too much detail. Asus (2357:TT) is getting ready to launch five new single socket server boards based on Intel’s soon to launch C200-series chipsets, also known as Bromolow. Although the company has already put the models up on its website, every single photo is blurred out.
As if that wasn’t enough, Asus decided to post as few details as possible waiting for the go ahead from Intel. That said we still managed to dig out some details about the new boards. The new models are the P8B-C/4L, P8B-C/SAS/4L, P8B-E/4L, P8B-M and P8B-X where all but the P8B-M are full-size ATX boards.
Starting with the P8B-M we have a board that features the Intel C204 chipset, four DIMMs for ECC DDR3 memory, a x16 PCI Express slot, two x8 PCI Express slots, each with four lanes worth of bandwidth and a single PCI slot. The board has four SATA 3Gbps and two SATA 6Gbps ports and it will either work with Intel’s RST in RAID 0, 1, 10 and 5, or it can use LSI MegaRAID drivers which add software RAID 0, 1 and 10 support which could be handy for Linux where Intel’s RST isn’t supported. The rear ports consists of a pair of PS/2 ports, a D-sub connector, a serial port, two USB 2.0 ports and three Ethernet ports of which two are connected to Intel Gigabit controllers. The third one is for the onboard BMC KVM-over-IP.
The P8B-X is the P8B-M’s larger sibling in as much as it’s an ATX size board although it relies on the more basic C202 chipset. This board has six SATA 3Gbps ports, the same number of DIMMs, a single x16 PCI Express slot, one x8 slot with four lanes worth of bandwidth, two x1 slots and two PCI slots. Rather unusually it carries XGI Z9s graphics with 64MB of dedicated graphics memory due to the lack of support for Intel’s integrated graphics in the C202/204 chipsets.. Around the rear we have two PS/2 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a serial port, a D-sub connector and again a pair of Intel Gigabit Ethernet ports. All in all, not a very exciting board, but hey, it’s a basic server board so we didn’t expect much either.
As for the P8B-C/4L, well, this is where things start to get a bit more interesting. Even though this board also uses the C202 chipset it has a few extra features over the P8B-X. For starters it has a x16 PCI Express slot, a x8 PCI Express slot again with four lanes of bandwidth and for some reason five PCI slots. Around the back we have two PS/2 ports, two USB ports, a D-sub connector and no less than four Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The P8B-C/SAS/4L is pretty much identical to the P8B-C/4L, although the chipset has been upgraded to the C204 which adds a pair of SATA 6Gbps ports. However, it doesn’t stop here as Asus has added an LSI 2008 SAS controller which adds a set of eight SAS 6Gbps ports.
Finally we have the P8B-E/4L which is also based on the C204 chipset, but is the high-end board of these five new models. It has a x16 PCI Express slot same as the previous boards, although in this case it’ll switch down to x8 mode if the secondary x16 slot is being used, a x8 slot which again only has four lanes of bandwidth, three PCI slots and an Asus PIKE slot which allows for a SAS add-on card to be fitted. Add to this quad Gigabit Ethernet ports, another Ethernet port for the onboard BMC KVM-over-IP, two PS/2 ports, two USB 2.0 ports and a D-sub connector and we’re talking a pretty high-end entry-level server.
The PIKE cards offer support for 8-channels of SAS 6Gbps connectivity and Asus offers versions with either software RAID 0, 1, 10 and 1E or 0, 1, 10, 5 and 50 or hardware RAID 0, 1, 10, 5, 6, 50 and 60. It seems like Asus has the entry level server market space sorted out, although we’re still waiting to see what the company will offer later this year when Intel’s LGA-2011 platform launches as well as Intel’s Westmere-EX platform. All of the five new boards will work with Intel’s upcoming E3 series or Xeon processors, or the current LGA-1155 processors, although only some limited models as far as we can tell.S|A
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