The Bad

The first of a few problems you may have with the Supermicro S2DGU is the incredible size of the board itself and the chassis requirements for operation with a Xeon processor installed.  This is definitely not a motherboard you can pop in a cheap $70 ATX case and hope it'll work, actually, most of Supermicro's line of cases won't even work with the motherboard!  Luckily, Supermicro is providing a few modifications to its SC-750A case design to accommodate for such a motherboard which does help a little, however if you can't find a newer SC-750A, have fun finding an abundant supply of Xeon-compatible cases. 

One of the biggest problems AnandTech had with the motherboard was with a little jumper labeled JP20.  In the initial testing of the motherboard the system would not boot at all, however this wasn't because of a fault in configuring the system, rather an option on the motherboard to select the power save state.  As described in the manual:

"Power Save State Select is used when you want the system to be in power off state the first time you apply power to the system or when the system comes back from AC power failure.  In this sate, the power will not come on unless you hit the power switch on the motherboard.  PIIX4 control is used if you want the system to be in power on state the first time you apply power to the system or when the system comes back from AC power failure."

What does all that mean?  Well, it means that if your system doesn't boot up properly on the first try, try setting the jumper to 1-2 instead of the default 2-3 setting.  If left ignored, that little $0.10 jumper can cause you quite a bit of pain and frustration.

With the motherboard industry slowly moving towards the PC99 specification, it would've been nice for Supermicro to follow in their competitor's footsteps.  While Tyan has already produced a motherboard with 6 PCI slots and just made a motherboard available with 6 PCI slots without using another PCI-to-PCI bridge, Supermicro does seem a little behind the times with the S2DGU.   Hopefully we'll see a 6+ PCI slot design in the near future from Supermicro, but you can never predict the future until it actually happens.

 


USB Compatibility

  • Number of Universal Serial Bus Root Ports: 2

  • USB IRQ Enable/Disable in BIOS: Yes

  • USB Keyboard Support in BIOS: Yes

 


Recommended SDRAM

Recommended SDRAM: Mushkin SEC -GH PC100 SDRAM; Memory Man SEC -GH PC100 SDRAM
SDRAM Tested: 1 x 64MB Mushkin PC100 SDRAM; 1 x 64MB Memory-Man PC100 SDRAM

Manufacturer: The Memory Man
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.memory-man.com

Manufacturer: Mushkin
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.mushkin.com

 


The Test

As you'll notice, the AnandTech testing methodology has changed a little bit with the introduction of Ziff Davis' Winstone 99 benchmarking software.  Winstone 99 picks up where Winstone 98 left off by testing true real-world performance in multitasking environments.  Winstone 99 runs three to four simultaneous applications for all of its three tests, including two or more programs from an office suite while a web browser surfs some locally stored pages.  While the performance difference between motherboards tested under Winstone 99 will be negligible, the number of times Winstone 99 failed during the 24 hour testing period AnandTech now puts all motherboards through is an incredibly accurate indicator of the board's overall stability and is directly factored into the stability rating of the board.  A performance difference of over 2 Winstone 99 points is definitely merit for a higher performance rating, however differences of 0.5 and 1 point are negligible in real world situations.

How I Tested

  • Each Winstone 99 benchmark was run off and on over a 24 hour period with a minimum of 5 test runs. The number of failures were recorded and the average of all scores was taken.

  • No foreign drivers were present in the test system other than those required for the system to function to the best of its ability

  • All foreign installation files were moved to a separate partition during the test as to prevent them from effecting the test results

  • All tests were conducted at 1024 x 768 x 16-bit color

  • 3D Winbench 99 tests were double buffered and conducted at 800 x 600 x 16-bit color

Test Configuration

Processor(s): Pentium II Xeon 400/1MB
RAM: 1 - 64MB Mushkin PC100 SDRAM DIMM
1 - 64MB Memory Man PC100 SDRAM DIMM
Hard Drive(s): Western Digital Caviar AC35100 - UltraATA
Video Card(s): Matrox MGA-G200
Bus Master Drivers: Microsoft Win98 DMA Drivers
Video Drivers: MGA Millennium G200 Release 1677-411
Operation System(s): Windows 98

 

Ziff Davis Winstone - Windows 98 Performance

Business Winstone 99 Failures
Intel Pentium II Xeon - 400 (100 x 4.0) 20.2 1
Intel Pentium II Xeon - 448 (112 x 4.0) 21.7 3

 


The Final Decision

As a high-end, dual processor, Xeon motherboard, the Supermicro S2DGU does a fine job of doing all that is asked of it and a little more with the standard Supermicro style.  Unfortunately the design does leave a few things to be desired from the motherboard such as more expansion slots, and even a more stable design, in a server environment, even a single failure can be fatal for your network...just imagine if the motherboard AnandTech's server is running on crashed "just once..."

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