Server motherboard suggestions

Paul Civati paul at
Tue Dec 27 15:20:30 GMT 2005

Alex Dyas <alex.dyas at> wrote:

> I'm planning to build a rackable FreeBSD 6 server and having not paid
> much attention to the hardware scene of late I'm wondering what is a
> good motherboard choice.

For server boards, Tyan and Supermicro - be aware though that some 
Supermicro boards are designed to only fit in SM chassis.  There are
many options for SM, the simplest may be to buy an SM barebones system 
and then add CPU/RAM/controller/disks.

> I'm thinking :
> - P4 (Socket 755)
> - SATAII (pref * 4)
> - At least one GB nic
> - At least 4GB RAM
> - IDE for a CDROM

Supermicro P8SCi perhaps, with the new 3ware 9550SX controller, I've
also been reading good things about the Areca controllers.

> FreeBSD friendly built-in RAID 1 and 5 would be nice, but if not I'm
> hoping to make use of gmirror, or buy a separate controller.  A year ago 
> the only SATA RAID controller I could find with good FreeBSD support was 
> from Highpoint.  Maybe things have improved?

3ware 7/8/9xxx supported on 4.x/5.x/6.x and work well.

Areca controllers are supposed to be very good performance in RAID5 but
I don't think the drivers are in the CVS/release branches (yet?), so 
some manual integration is required.

Also make sure you use the right disks, I've only recently realised that
most PATA/SATA disks are manufactured to spec for a "8-5" desktop usage 
pattern, and you should really use the 24x7 certified models in servers.

Although there is a bit of a conflict here as I'm not sure any of the
24x7 rated drives are SATA300 capable at present.

> So far the ASUS P5LD2 is looking good, as are the Gigabyte GA-81945P,
> and the MSI 945P/955X Platinum.

Generally speaking, they make desktop boards (I say generally because
some do have separate ranges of higher priced server boards) - the
difference between desktop and server boards can be important when
you actually look more closely:

* Poor chipsets - don't really want Realtek ethernet?
* Limited RAM slots / maximum RAM
* No ECC RAM support
* No 64-bit PCI - want to drive your RAID card properly?
* Not enough dedicated bus bandwidth - ethernet, PCI, video, etc


Paul Civati <paul(at)> 0870 321 2855
Rack Sense Ltd - Server hosting specialists -   

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