ASRock Rack has showcased its first motherboard for Ampere's Altra and Altra Max processors marking its entrance into the Arm-based servers business. The company's ALTRAD8UD-1L2T demonstrated at Computex can be used to build miniature servers or workstations featuring up to 128 Armv8 cores and datacenter-grade expandability and manageability.
ASRock Rack's ALTRAD8UD-1L2T fully supports Ampere's Altra and Altra Max CPUs with 32 – 128 cores that can be paired with up to 2TB of memory using eight DDR4-3200 modules. In addition, the motherboard takes advantage of rather abundant I/O capabilities that Ampere's 1st Generation Altra Max datacenter SoCs have, including 128 PCIe Gen4 lanes with down to x2 and x4 bifurcation.
Regarding physical slots, the motherboard has four PCIe x16 slots, two M.2-2280 slots, four SlimSAS connectors, and two OCuLink connectors for SSDs. The platform also has two 10GbE ports controlled by the Intel X550, one GbE connector enabled by the Intel I210, and one GbE driven by the Realtek RTL8211F for remote management supported by the Aspeed AST2500 BMC. The motherboard also has an SPI connector for TPM modules, USB 3.2 Gen1 ports, and a D-Sub VGA display connector.
One of the peculiarities of the ASRock ALTRAD8UD-1L2T platform is that it comes in the company's proprietary Deep microATX form factor, which will prevent it from installing into regular microATX chassis. In fact, we don't even know if it can be mounted into standard ATX or Full ATX towers. Yet, ASRock Rack will probably offer a chassis to install such motherboards into racks or desktop environments.
One of the questions about the ALTRAD8UD-1L2T is its target market. Ampere's Altra and Altra Max processors are tailored for cloud workloads, so using them as client machines hardly makes any sense for anything other than cloud software development. Yet, ASRock certainly sees that the market of microATX-ish platforms for Ampere CPUs is promising enough to address it.
ASRock Rack is the sixth company to offer a platform based on Ampere Altra processors after Foxconn, Gigabyte, HPE, Supermicro, and Wiwynn.