Hot on the heels of Intel's Xeon W-3300-series CPUs announcement, ASRock on Thursday introduced one of the industry's first retail motherboard for the processors. The company's C621A WS platform allows system makers and enthusiasts to build ultra-high-end workstations with up to 38-core Xeon W-3375 CPU, 2TB of DDR4 memory, and four PCIe 4.0 x16 dual-slot graphics, SSD or FPGA cards.
Being designed solely for workstations and multi-purpose servers, the ASRock C621A WS is all about expandability, stability, and reliability as opposed to focus on overclocking, advanced cooling, built-in features, and impressive look in case of high-end desktop platforms. The C621A WS motherboard has a rather modest seven-phase digital voltage regulating module (VRM) that can still handle Intel's W-3300 CPUs with an up to 270W TDP. If Intel decides to offer a successor to its Xeon W-3175X CPU with unlocked multiplier, it does not look like the C621A WS will be an ideal choice for such a chip.
The motherboard uses a narrow version of the Socket P+, so it is compatible only with select coolers. One of the reasons why ASRock had to stick to a narrow socket is because it wanted to go with the ATX form-factor to ensure broader compatibility with chassis without making any compromises to expandability or features.
The C621A WS platform carries eight slots for DDR4 memory that can support up to 2TB of DRAM using RDIMM, LRDIMMs, and/or Intel Optane Persistent Memory modules. In addition, the platform has four PCIe 4.0 x16 and three PCIe 4.0 x8 slots for add-in-boards, such as graphics cards, FPGA accelerators, high-end enterprise-grade SSDs or other adapters. As for storage, the C621A WS has one M.2-22110 slot for a PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD, one M.2-22110 slot for a SATA or PCIe 3.0 x1 drive, two SATA ports, and one Mini-SAS connector.
Connectivity department of ASRock's C621A WS platform includes two 10GbE ports controlled by the Intel X710-AT2 chip, two GbE connectors enabled by the Intel I210, and four USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports on the rear panel. The motherboard also has headers for two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C and two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports on the front panel.
Meanwhile, to enable remote management (which is needed both for servers and workstation applications), the motherboard has Aspeed's AST2500 BMC controller with a dedicated GbE port as well as a D-Sub display output.
In general, C621A WS's expandability, storage capabilities, and rear panel I/O comply with industrial trends for modern workstations that integrate plenty of compute and/or graphics horsepower, but do not store loads of data locally, but rather connect to a high-performance NAS that stores hundreds of terabytes. What is surprising is that ASRock decided not to enable Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6E support on its mainboard, something that Intel's C621A platforms are supposed to support.
ASRock did not disclose when it plans to start sales of the C621A WS motherboard, though is likely that it will hit the market in the coming weeks or months along with Intel's Xeon W-3300 'Ice Lake-64L' processors with up to 38 cores. Pricing of the C621A WS is unknown, but since this is a workstation solution it will be priced accordingly.
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Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.