Supermicro SuperWorkstation 5038A-iL: Our LGA 1150 Test Platform
Since Intel keeps its Haswell-based platforms fairly stable in terms of interface size, memory configurations, PCI Express support, the motherboards look pretty similar (aside from the power circuitry integrated onto the die). Consequently, many vendors had little trouble updating their previous-gen products. This goes for Supermicro's SuperWorkstation 5038A-iL. As you can probably guess from the incremented model number (5038 versus 5037), this is an updated platform.
The chassis is a lot like what we saw from the 5037A-iL. Looking at the front, there are some obvious changes. Up front, we still have two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, along with an audio interface. That I/O is augmented by two FireWire connectors on the updated case. Our test unit came with a 5.25" bay adapter, which you can see in the second external bay from the top.
Inside is Supermicro's X10SAE motherboard. This is where you'll find some of the most notable changes. For instance, the memory configuration is now top to bottom, which is more typical of consumer motherboards. That'd be a major change on a passively-cooled server board. But for the workstation-oriented X10SAE, it works fine.
In the newest generation, Ethernet comes from Intel's i217LM and i210AT controllers. This is notable because Intel is transitioning its customers to newer silicon. The i217LM is found on C226-based platforms, while the i210 succeeds Intel's 82574L. We've already seen a lot of Haswell-based server boards with these controllers. You may not find drivers built-in to your operating system, but support for most environments is at least available from Intel.
Supermicro enables eight SATA 6Gb/s ports, compared to the previous version's two 6 Gb/s and four 3 Gb/s connectors. Six of those ports are tied to Intel's PCH, while the other two come from ASMedia's ASM1061 on-board controller. The key takeaway is that there are more higher-throughput ports, which is a good thing from a workstation. We also find the same toolless 3.5" drive sleds that were available from the LGA 1155 platform.
Audio gets upgraded to Realtek's ALC1150. As with its predecessor, the X10SAE includes optical S/PDIF connectivity.
Expansion includes two third-gen PCIe x16 slots that either run at 16x/0x or 8x/8x, three PCIe 2.0 links in x4 slots, and two 32-bit PCI slots. The X10SAE's support for two x8 links lets you hook up high-end SAS card or a second GPU. That second PCI slot is interesting too; it may have been added due to other PCIe-based controllers that were already deployed on-board.
Rounding out the board's feature set is support for six USB 3.0 ports and up to 10 USB 2.0 connectors. Both generations accommodate two additional ports compared to the X9SAE model. The X10SAE has eight fan headers that can control speeds based on thermal readings and target acoustics. A 128 Mb EEPROM with AMI firmware is twice as large as the X9SAE.
The bottom line is this: the X10SAE is an upgraded platform that adds faster interface speeds and support for LGA 1150.