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ASRock Rack Releases LGA2011-3 Socket Mini-ITX Server Motherboard

By - Source: ASRock Rack

Today, ASRock Rack released the EPC612D4I server motherboard, a powerful mini-ITX platform designed for micro servers and other small form factor rendering solutions. First announced at CeBIT in March, the EPC612D4I features a single LGA2011-3 socket and appears to be the first mini-ITX platform designed for servers to support the Intel Xeon E5 v3 processor family and quad-channel DDR4 ECC SO-DIMM memory.

In recent months, manufacturers have been expanding their selection of mini-ITX motherboards in response to the small form factor's increasing popularity. The demand for more powerful hardware in the enthusiast market has led to some pretty outlandish creations, such as ASRock's X99E-ITX/ac motherboard. In our coverage, we weren't too subtle suggesting that a LGA2011 socket in a mini-ITX form factor didn't make much sense, as there wasn't enough I/O or expansion slots to take advantage of the chipset's abundant PCI-Express bandwidth and quad-channel memory controller.

Few could argue that the additional cores Haswell-E provides over the flagship i7-4790K exhibits significant enough performance gains to justify using a LGA2011 socket in a mini-ITX enthusiast platform, especially when you're limited to a single PCI-E 3.0 x 16 lane. It just doesn't seem practical.

The more significant benefactor of having the processing power of a LGA2011 socket chip in a small form factor would be the enterprise segment, where mini-ITX platforms are more prevalent, and space, power and efficiency are the name of the game. ASRock Rack's EPC612D4I mini-ITX motherboard seems to provide exactly the right amount of features for the demand of a powerful micro-server or blade server.

The EPC612D4I features a single LGA2011-3 socket, four native SATA3 ports, one PCI-E 3.0 x 16 slot, dual LAN, and four DDR4 ECC SO-DIMM slots, which allows the full use of the quad-channel memory controller, a feat other current LGA 2011-3 socketed mini-ITX motherboards cannot claim.

Interesting enough, this mini-ITX offering has the same issue as ASRock's X99E-ITX/ac motherboard in that a standard LGA2011-3 cooling solution won't fit in the slightly smaller size narrow ILM. ASRock countered this problem by providing a server-sized CPU cooler and an optional CPU water cooler mount plate with the X99E-ITX/ac, but AsRock Rack is not giving the EPC612D4I the same treatment. While there aren’t extraordinary amounts of narrow ILM cooling solutions available, there are some options (including some that are compatible with both square and narrow ILM motherboards), so finding an acceptable cooler should not prove too difficult.

The EPC612D4I LGA2011-3 mini-ITX motherboard is available now for a mere $265, which, by LGA2011-3 server motherboard price standards, is quite reasonable.

Update: This article was updated at 10:45am ET on April 30, 2015 to include new information about cooling options, price, and availability.

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