Supermicro X7SPA-H*-D525 – anyone using it?



  • I need to build a low-wattage firewall/vpn/etc, and am looking at the 2 Supermicro mini-itx X7SPA boards with the Atom D525 2-core chip. (X7SPA-H-D525 and X7SPA-HF-D525).

    Supermicro says that fBSD 8.0 has been tested on the -H- variant, but apparently not on the -HF- one.

    Someone at Newegg claims to be running pfSense on the -HF-O variant (with the D510 chip):

    Been using this board as a pfSense 1.2.3 firewall in an M300 case with 4GB RAM (3GB supported in 1.2.3 32-bit) and an old Scorpio drive. Administered headless over IPMI, which works wonderfully. This board is rock solid and doesn't have a problem saturating my 30Mb/s fiber. Quiet, low power, low heat, low maintenance, powerful for pfSense, dual intel GB nic, and I am a happy camper.

    There shouldn't be any significant difference between the D510 and D525 boards except clock rate, but I'd nevertheless feel much more comfortable knowing that there are other people who are already successfully using one of those D525 boards.

    Anyone?


  • Netgate Administrator

    Quite a few people are running that board and it's variants. Just search the forum (make sure you are in the root of the forum first) for X7SPA.

    I'm not one of them though!  ;)

    Steve



  • Thanks.  I've so far only turned up posts from two folk who are using rather than evaluating the HF variant, which is the one I'd prefer if I do go with one of those boards.

    What are you running, and were you motivated by power-consumption considerations?  I've a couple of elderly motherboards gathering dust that I could use, but they're large and consume energy like mad things.



  • If you are considering saving power while using pfSense take a look at the idle power consumption of i3 processors as compared to Atom. It is surprising but for just a few bucks more you can get an latest i3 second generation LGA1155 system built and is 20 times more powerful than an Atom but at the same time it uses similar or at times even less power than an Atom.

    I am using an i5 (seems like an overkill but it is working in extremely power efficient manner) system since last 6 months and love it.


  • Netgate Administrator

    @MMacD:

    What are you running, and were you motivated by power-consumption considerations?

    I'm running an old Watchguard Firebox that I got from Ebay. See: http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,25011.0.html
    Mostly I was motivated by that fact I could get a box that orginally cost £1000's for £40!  :D
    However since this is for home use and it's on 24/7 power is always a consideration. I swapped out the cpu for a less powerful one. My box draws around 40W at the plug most of the time.
    You should be able to achieve less that 25W with an Atom. If you choose an NXXX Atom and use a DC-DC power supply you can get very low consumption.
    I agree with Asterix though, take a look at an i3 system. You will likely be drawing similar power but if you ever need to use VPNs, Squid or Snort extensively you will be much better prepared.

    What bandwidth are you firewalling?

    Steve



  • @asterix:

    It is surprising but for just a few bucks more you can get an latest i3 second generation LGA1155 system built and is 20 times more powerful than an Atom but at the same time it uses similar or at times even less power than an Atom.

    I also agree with this. I recently built a SB Celeron G530 and does everything I need. Plus it can always be upgraded as/if needed:
    http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,44269.0.html



  • @asterix:

    If you are considering saving power while using pfSense take a look at the idle power consumption of i3 processors as compared to Atom. It is surprising but for just a few bucks more you can get an latest i3 second generation LGA1155 system built and is 20 times more powerful than an Atom but at the same time it uses similar or at times even less power than an Atom.

    I am using an i5 (seems like an overkill but it is working in extremely power efficient manner) system since last 6 months and love it.

    After reading your suggestion, I looked around for boards that might work.  But either I didn't look in the right place, or there are no combinations that would come in at anywhere near the price.

    Too, I'm less concerned with the system's consumption when idling than with its consumption when going flat out.

    I don't intend to host a site visible to the outside on my LAN, so I'll be happy if whatever I choose has enough muscle to keep the bad guys out of my sandbox without bottlenecking, and possibly run a VPN pipe at a useful speed.  If it turns out that at some point I need more, it'll only be because I'm being paid for it.  In which case I'll be able to afford another build  ;D


  • Netgate Administrator

    What do you consider a useful speed?
    The D525 will do approximately 500Mps firewall/NAT or 60Mbps VPN in one direction.
    See: http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,27780.0.html

    Steve



  • @stephenw10:

    I'm running an old Watchguard Firebox that I got from Ebay. See: http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,25011.0.html
    Mostly I was motivated by that fact I could get a box that orginally cost £1000's for £40!  :D

    Good grief, that thing's a monster!

    However since this is for home use and it's on 24/7 power is always a consideration. I swapped out the cpu for a less powerful one. My box draws around 40W at the plug most of the time.
    You should be able to achieve less that 25W with an Atom. If you choose an NXXX Atom and use a DC-DC power supply you can get very low consumption.

    Forty watts isn't awful - especially for your one - but I admit I'm more hoping for a 20-25W draw when it's going flat out.

    I agree with Asterix though, take a look at an i3 system. You will likely be drawing similar power but if you ever need to use VPNs, Squid or Snort extensively you will be much better prepared.

    The problem, tho, as I remarked to Asterix, is that I can't find anything that looks like I could bring it in for anywhere close to that SM board.  I might be looking in the wrong place.

    What bandwidth are you firewalling?

    At present, only 1Mb - it's all I can get where I now live.  But if I succeed in moving to a larger city, I'll be able to get 5.

    I mostly do software, and have my LAN rigged up as a pico-Inet sandbox.  My main goal is to keep the vandals out of my sandbox, and I might have a use for a single VPN pipe in future.  But that's the lot.  It's really totally boring.



  • @stephenw10:

    What do you consider a useful speed?
    The D525 will do approximately 500Mps firewall/NAT or 60Mbps VPN in one direction.
    See: http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,27780.0.html

    That sounds like it could be fast enough ;D


  • Netgate Administrator

    If you only need 5Mbps then consider an Alix box which draws <5W!

    Steve



  • The Alix mamaboard with the 3 ethernet ports was the first board I looked at, and I nearly settled for it then and there.

    But after looking at it in more depth, I was glad I hadn't.  It seems more a "project" board for hobbyists or unattended applications, not the kind of thing you'd want to talk to very often if at all.

    I could imagine an Alix doing a nice job running a security system, where it does nothing but poll cameras and sensors and send the data back to a machine that has actual power and personality.  But even then I'd assign two Alicies to the job, because the other thing that bothered me about them was that they look like they're made cheaply.


  • Netgate Administrator

    I can't speak from personal experience but the Alix boards generally enjoy a very good reputation.
    They are capable of firewall/NAT at 85Mbps so should be easily capable in your situation.

    Steve


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