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9:04 AM
@StephenKitt thank you for the edit. Probably better than my "read the documentation"
 
@roaima you’re welcome! Since you were most of the way there it seemed a shame not to let the example answer the OP’s main concern.
I rather like your version of foo bar baz ;-)
 
 
3 hours later…
12:11 PM
@StephenKitt This is a followup to some discussion we had about a year ago about motherboards. You probably don't remember, but I saved the links and can provide them if you want. You recommended SuperMicro, specifically the X*-SAE series. I was considering X13-SAE, which is available here. It isn't cheap, though. There don't seem to be a lot of workstation motherboards available here. The only other real competition seems to be ASUS. Its direct competitor to X13-SAE is the WS W680-ACE.
The WS W680-ACE also seems to have a bit more by way of features, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to tell how significant the differences are.
These are both Intel. There is also an AMD Asus board available, namely the Pro WS X570-ACE.
The SuperMicro boards have a 1 year warranty. The Asus ones have 3 year warranties. At first glance that seems like a point in favor of Asus, but I talked to one of the SuperMicro distributors, and he said SuperMicro want to focus on technology rather than support, so they try to get the distributors to do the support.
Also, both of the Intel boards I mentioned come with and without IPMI. I was wondering if it was worth paying extra for IPMI, given that it is unlikely I would be accessing the computer from a distance, at least for the foreseeable future.
 
@FaheemMitha ASRock Industrial have a few W680 boards too, e.g. asrockind.com/IMB-X1314
 
As of right now I'm leaning towards the SuperMicro board X13-SAE, because people generally seem to have a positive view of SuperMicro. Also the distributor I mentioned, Prime ABGB, is fairly close to me. The person I had a talk with seems to be quite senior there. I might have them assemble the machine. The trouble with buying just a motherboard (or indeed any part) and then having another party assemble is that the parts may be faulty or incompatible.
@StephenKitt Yes, I came across that. I don't know if they are available here, though.
Also, my impression is that SuperMicro makes better boards than ASRock. Though I gather it's something of a crap shoot.
 
@FaheemMitha IPMI is only useful if you need to access the system remotely, for some value of remotely — I have a couple of systems that don’t have a keyboard and screen, and run in the basement, so IPMI is useful there.
I’ve never used ASRock boards so I don’t have a useful opinion on their quality.
 
12:27 PM
One other thing that is positive about SuperMicro is that they definitely support Linux-based operating systems. In fact the X13-SAE page explicitly mentions Debian, along with many other distributions. That's quite rare, in my experience.
 
It’s fairly common on “workstation-class” equipment ;-)
 
@StephenKitt So you don't think it's worth it if the system is in front of you, and the keyboard and mouse are not responsive for some reason? Is IPMI better than a hard reset, or equivalent, from the POV of the operating system?
@StephenKitt I don't think I've really looked at those before, so perhaps that is why I've not seen it.
@StephenKitt Do you think the warranty is something to weigh here? Or not?
 
@FaheemMitha IPMI won’t help in that scenario, unless you’ve set up a serial console through it. Resetting through IPMI is the same as resetting using hardware buttons; if you’re concerned about an unresponsive keyboard (unresponsive for any reason), you’d be better of setting up SSH access to the system — that will give you remote access if the kernel is still responsive.
 
@StephenKitt I see. OK. Sounds like IMPI is not worth it for me.
 
I like this variation: "I don't have a useful opinion on <foo>"
 
12:34 PM
Actually, most often the keyboard doesn't respond because the system is low on memory, and often in that case ssh is unresponsive either.
@JeffSchaller ?
 
well, anyone can come up with an opinion on something; useful ones are more useful :)
 
@FaheemMitha I haven’t had to use in-warranty support on a motherboard for quite a long time. Warranties in the EU tend to be longer anyway — the company I buy SuperMicro stuff from provide three year warranties.
 
@StephenKitt Ah, I see. Maybe the distributor is providing the warranties. It isn't clear whether it's from SuperMicro or not.
 
@FaheemMitha in my case it’s clear, it’s the distributor.
 
@StephenKitt Has your opinion on SM changed in the last year? :-)
@StephenKitt I understand.
@JeffSchaller I feel I'm lacking some context for that comment.
@StephenKitt Also, other things being equal would you prefer SM over Asus from a quality POV, or indeed any other POV, or is it a toss-up?
 
12:37 PM
@FaheemMitha sorry for the interruption; I was just catching up on /dev/chat and I'd never seen that variation in phrasing and liked it. I guess the shorter version is usually "I don't have an opinion on <foo>"
 
@JeffSchaller Oh, I just realised you were referring to
13 mins ago, by Stephen Kitt
I’ve never used ASRock boards so I don’t have a useful opinion on their quality.
Certainly, not all opinions are useful. All too many of them, I'd say.
 
@FaheemMitha no; the only motherboard I’ve had fail on me was an Asus board (with dodgy capacitors).
@FaheemMitha from a purely quality POV, I think it’s a toss-up
 
@StephenKitt OK. Can you think of any other criterion which might be significant?
@StephenKitt You've either been very fortunate, or use very good quality motherboards. I think MBs fail quite a bit, particularly when they are old enough. Mine is over 10 years old now, so it seems time to get another machine.
 
12:52 PM
@FaheemMitha how detailed the documentation is (including block diagrams etc.), how much access the board provides to the various system buses, what settings are available in firmware, how easy it is to recover from user errors (e.g. problems flashing the firmware)
I also tend to consider that a board without features I won’t use is better
 
@StephenKitt Thank you, that's very helpful. Do you think SM does well on all these criteria?
@StephenKitt Agreed. Just more things to go wrong, right?
 
@FaheemMitha yes, see for example page 19 of the X13SAE manual.
 
@StephenKitt OK. Thank you.
I've read more than one comment saying that SB motherboards are well designed. But of course I don't know enough about the topic to have an opinion.
 
1:19 PM
@FaheemMitha here’s one example: SM were one of the last motherboard manufacturer to expose the full LPC bus, so you can add ISA boards to Haswell-era systems (yeah, I know, it’s extremely niche but it goes to show the care taken with the design).
 
1:37 PM
@StephenKitt That means little to me, but thank you for the link.
@StephenKitt I looked through that thread, and don't see any explicit references to SuperMicro. No doubt I missed it.
 
@StephenKitt Thank you.
I did a search for "Super".
 

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