LooZypher

EP2C602

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For some time now I wanted to upgrade my homeserver, the one I have now is based on a 1st gen core i5 processor with 8GB of Ram sitting on an m-itx motherboard with only four sata connections. The four sata connections quickly became an obstacle to expand my array of harddisks. I solved that by buying a cheap Sata Controller I/O board, and to my surprise it actually worked very well. The Sata Controller allowed for an additional 4 Sata connections, which of course is great, but now I don’t have the opportunity to add other I/O cards because of the m-itx formats limitation of only having one pci-e port. I really like the m-itx form factor because of it’s physical size, but it is also the physical size that is it’s limitation, what I needed was a new motherboard.

I contacted Asrockrack to see if they were interested in sponsoring this endeavor of updating my server, and it turned out that they would, and a few days ago this came:

Front%20Case_zpsfcvqx36c.png

A both classy and anonymous looking box with only a little information on the front, and just a little more on the back:

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Information is maybe stretching it a little, it is more advertisements but that makes sense to me, as the folks that buy this are for most part aware of what they are getting into, and they don’t necessary need more information from the box.

A box is all good and well, but what really is interesting is of course the content:

02e0b201-6919-424d-9316-9054af92ac9a_zps

What we see here is

  • A drivers DVD
  • Five SATA cables
  • An I/O shield
  • A manual


My initial thought was that isn't much; I'm used to mainstream boards where there are screws, ceramic washers, door hangers, a soundcard or maybe even an antenna for Wi-Fi. but this is not a mainstream motherboard, it is servergrade and made for professional use, so door hangers aren't really a buying factor - Come to think of it, is a door hanger really a factor when buying factor when buying mainstream motherboards?

And here it is, the crown jewel; the ASRockRack ep2c602:

Motherboard%20full_zpsfslbqlu7.png

Initially I proposed ASRockRack to sponsor the EPC602A, which is a single socket motherboard - more that adequate for a home server, but as these boards feature chipsets that were launched in Q1 2012, they aren't the newest out there, and the epc602d8a was no longer in stock, so ASRockRack suggested the ep2c602; I humbly accepted. 

The center piece(s) of the ep2c602 are of course the two LGA 2011 cpu sockets, capable of supporting a large variety of intel Xeons int both Ivy- and Sandy bridge flavors, that means that should I ever want to upgrade the CPUs in this build I would have ample choice.

c4d05e79-d395-4435-802d-11e684897e32_zps

To the left and to the right of the sockets (respectively) we see the mosfets, they are kept nice and cool by the heatsinks. Above and below the Dimm slots are clearly visible, combined they support 256GB of RAM. Though that would require that both CPU sockets are populated. Should only one CPU be used, it should be mounted in the left most socket, and as indicated earlier only the corresponding Dimms are usable in that case.

The 20+4 pin ATX connecter can be seen on the lower edge, and the two EPS 8 pin connectors are seen in the bottom left corner, and on the right edge, there are two because there are two sockets, these EPS connectors feed the mosfets with power, they in turn feed the CPU with ripple minimized current.

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There are no less than eight fan headers on the ep2c602, the seven are of the 4pin PWM persuasion, that means that noise from fans forced to run at full speed is nothing to be worried about, with this board. The two remaining  headers are placed near the second CPU socket; convenient.

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Ah the disk connectors...
The four blue ones farthest away are actually SAS connectors, I don't own any SAS drives, but my guess it isn't a problem connecting SATA drives to those, they should be compatible, there is only one way to be sure... Testing.

The four blue ones that are right angled on the PCB are SATAII ports and are, together with first two white ports (They are SATAIII though), controlled by the chipset. The last four white ports are SATAIII and controlled by a marvel controller.
Notice how the ten angled SATA connectors are pulled back from the edge of the motherboard? Yeah I was wondering about that myself, but it turns out it isn't a bad idea, but more on that later.

The keen eye has probably already seen the onboard USB connector, this will come in handy; my operating system of choice is Lime-Technologys unRaid, which runs directly from a USB drive.

Behind the USB connector we se a pair 7 segment led displays which server the purpose of helping with diagnose the system should there be any errors.

Rear%20I_O_zpstvsjytqb.png

On the Rear I/O panel we see some legacy connectors PS/2 for mouse and keyboard and a Serial connector, even though the latter isn't use that often it can be very useful when working with network devices, as the preliminary configurations needs a serial connection.
We have the standard VGA connection, this system is going to run headless, but with early testing and configuration this will come in very handy.

Rear%20I_O_1_zpsygpowhn2.png

Three RJ45 ports, two gigabit ports for LAN connection and one 100 megabit port for IPMI connection. I will do a more in depth post of the IPMI function. For now I will say that IPMI from an administrators point of view is bloody awesome!

The EP2C602 is an older motherboard, it still is build on a solid technology and should prove to be a very good and sturdy base for my build.

Edited by LooZypher
  • Upvote 1

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Avoid the 4 Marvell ports, they are notoriously problematic on those boards, at least with unRAID.

 

 

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Just to be clear: You asked asRock if they would give you a free motherboard in exchange for a writeup in a forum, and they said "sure"? I paid $500 for mine, but if I had known that was an option, I would have pursued it!! :).

 

What's the full model number of the board they sent you? The layout appears slightly different from mine...

Edited by DoeBoye

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On 2/28/2017 at 6:34 PM, DoeBoye said:

Just to be clear: You asked asRock if they would give you a free motherboard in exchange for a writeup in a forum, and they said "sure"? I paid $500 for mine, but if I had known that was an option, I would have pursued it!! :).

 

What's the full model number of the board they sent you? The layout appears slightly different from mine...

Yes I've been quite fortunate on that part :)

The full model number is EP2C602

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Yes,

Avoid the Marvel ports. Its a known issue that they go a little crazy if you have visualization enabled.

 

Its discussed here: 

 

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1 hour ago, billington.mark said:

Avoid the Marvel ports. Its a known issue that they go a little crazy if you have visualization enabled

 

Funny enough, though I have other issues with my board (and others have the same as well) with false temp sensor events and fans spinning to max on their own, I have no problems using the Marvell SE9230 controller. I have all 4 Marvell ports connected, and am running 2 VMs, and haven't had an issue yet...

 

I should mention that one of my drives *did* just drop out of the array this morning, but I was messing around in there yesterday and may have jostled a cable (haven't had time to confirm which controller the drive was attached to)...

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Maybe you guys can help me out here.

I have a pair of SAS hdd's that I wanted to connect to my array, but the are not recognized. I have bought a backplane enclosure from raidsonic, namely the IB-565ssk, which supports both data and SAS disks.

The disks are connected to the motherboard (to avoid confusion it is the above mentioned motherboard) to the ports xo trolled by the chipset, but they are not being recognized by unraid, a sata disk is mounted in the same enclosure and this is working as expected.

As far as I can tell there isn't anything misconfigured in the BIOS, would it make sense to try to connect the SAS disks to the SCU ports on the motherboard?

Any input is highly appreciated.

 

Thank you 

L.

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Sorry to resurrect this, but LooZypher you never finished your write up! ASRock should take their board back. =)

 

I am thinking of switching to unRAID and I have a very similar setup to you. Norco-4224, EP2C602 (just the regular though, not the 4L/D16), 64GB ECC memory, Dual E5-2670 v1, currently running Windows Server 2012. For my PCI-Express SATA controllers I have Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 and AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 connecting 8 drives each and was hoping to connect the other 8 with the onboard controllers.

 

How has unRAID been running for you on your hardware? There was talk about issues with the Marvel controller, did you run into any problems? 

 

The SAS connectors are confusing, sometimes they say they support SATA3 6.0Gbps, sometimes they say only SATA2 3.0Gbps. Can you tell what mode they are running in if you are using them?

 

Also, wanting to do a game streaming VM by putting in a GPU and passthrough to the VM. Have you tried that on this board? Just want to know how well it will work.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, deusxanime said:

Sorry to resurrect this, but LooZypher you never finished your write up! ASRock should take their board back. =)

 

I am thinking of switching to unRAID and I have a very similar setup to you. Norco-4224, EP2C602 (just the regular though, not the 4L/D16), 64GB ECC memory, Dual E5-2670 v1, currently running Windows Server 2012. For my PCI-Express SATA controllers I have Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 and AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 connecting 8 drives each and was hoping to connect the other 8 with the onboard controllers.

 

How has unRAID been running for you on your hardware? There was talk about issues with the Marvel controller, did you run into any problems? 

 

The SAS connectors are confusing, sometimes they say they support SATA3 6.0Gbps, sometimes they say only SATA2 3.0Gbps. Can you tell what mode they are running in if you are using them?

 

Also, wanting to do a game streaming VM by putting in a GPU and passthrough to the VM. Have you tried that on this board? Just want to know how well it will work.

 

On 3/7/2017 at 11:30 AM, DoeBoye said:

I have all 4 Marvell ports connected, and am running 2 VMs, and haven't had an issue yet...

 

I can tell you, since I wrote the post above about not having any issues, Karma bit me in the a$$. I had 3 drives drop out of the array and corrupt :(. I recovered 2 because of dual parity, but the data from the last one was lost. After 30 hours or so of various recovery software attempts, I managed to get back the bulk of what was lost, but it wasn't fun.

 

DO NOT USE THE MARVEL CONTROLLER - Especially if you want to virtualize!

 

GPU passthrough works a treat with this board (I'm using the 4L/D16 variant). Passing through 2 video cards and 2 USB cards (well, one is a card, one is onboard headers) to a Windows VM and a Mac VM and they work great. Took awhile to find the right combination of cards to work, but in the end, I have 2 workstations running 24/7 off the server without issue. Almost never reboot them.

 

Edited by DoeBoye

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the heads up on the Marvel ports (those are the white SATAIII_M0_M1 and SATAIII_M2_M3 ports right?). Annoying they don't work as they are the majority of the SATA3 ports on that board. I should be able to use the other two SATA3 ports though (white SATAIII_0_1) for my SSD cache drives and I guess the spinning disk can go on the SATA2 ports (blue SATAII_2_3 and SATAII_4_5) since they won't be as demanding on speed. Did you use any of the SAS ports (blue SAS_0_1 and SAS_2_3)? Still confused if those actually are SATA2 or 3 when you use regular SATA drives with them. I guess I could also just buy another 8-port controller card and use it for SATA3 speeds, but seems like such a waste not to use any ports on the mobo as well as burn up another PCI-Express slot. 

 

As for GPU passthrough I'm thinking of using my EVGA nvidia GTX 770 I have not doing much else, assuming it fits... Not sure if there is a certain gen card you need though to successfully passthrough. Also, saw a post that seems like some games that use VAC are no longer working when using a VM with passthrough, which could be a major annoyance. Would have been hopefully using it for CounterStrike and such. =/

 

This brings another thought though... Do you think you could passthrough the Marvell controller to the VM and have it work OK if unRAID isn't the one using it for storage? Was considering having a dedicated ~250GB SSD for my gaming VM (assuming I make one now that I found out about VAC above) and so I could maybe connect it to the Marvell and just passthrough the whole controller rather than an individual drive.

 

edit: Looking here, it probably doesn't really matter if the spinning disk are hooked up to SATA2 rather than 3, so I guess NBD.

Edited by deusxanime
link to info on mech drives on sata2/3

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1 hour ago, deusxanime said:

Thanks for the heads up on the Marvel ports (those are the white SATAIII_M0_M1 and SATAIII_M2_M3 ports right?). Annoying they don't work as they are the majority of the SATA3 ports on that board. I should be able to use the other two SATA3 ports though (white SATAIII_0_1) for my SSD cache drives and I guess the spinning disk can go on the SATA2 ports (blue SATAII_2_3 and SATAII_4_5) since they won't be as demanding on speed. Did you use any of the SAS ports (blue SAS_0_1 and SAS_2_3)? Still confused if those actually are SATA2 or 3 when you use regular SATA drives with them. I guess I could also just buy another 8-port controller card and use it for SATA3 speeds, but seems like such a waste not to use any ports on the mobo as well as burn up another PCI-Express slot. 

 

As for GPU passthrough I'm thinking of using my EVGA nvidia GTX 770 I have not doing much else, assuming it fits... Not sure if there is a certain gen card you need though to successfully passthrough. Also, saw a post that seems like some games that use VAC are no longer working when using a VM with passthrough, which could be a major annoyance. Would have been hopefully using it for CounterStrike and such. =/

 

This brings another thought though... Do you think you could passthrough the Marvell controller to the VM and have it work OK if unRAID isn't the one using it for storage? Was considering having a dedicated ~250GB SSD for my gaming VM (assuming I make one now that I found out about VAC above) and so I could maybe connect it to the Marvell and just passthrough the whole controller rather than an individual drive.

 

edit: Looking here, it probably doesn't really matter if the spinning disk are hooked up to SATA2 rather than 3, so I guess NBD.

Off the top of my head, I'm not sure which ports are which. I do remember it was a bit misleading as to which ports were what. Initially I had misidentified which ones were the Marvel ones, so examine your board carefully! I'm using all onboard ports except the Marvel ones without issue. As far as SATA2 vs 3, you're right, spinners won't care. Only might affect SSD drives.

 

As far as trying to use the Marvel ones at all, I would recommend against it. These boards have quite a few slots, so personally, if you need more than what is onboard, a used H310 or something of the like from ebay (Be careful of fakes - search the forum for posts with more info) will give you another 8 ports to play with. They used to be able to be found for around $50...

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Posted (edited)

The attached graphics show the Marvel ports on my ASRock - EP2C602-4L/D16 they would probably be the same on a non 4L/D16.

Marvel port location on MB.png

Marvel 9230 controler MB numbers.png

Edited by BobPhoenix

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Posted (edited)

Yes I figured the SATAIII_M1/2/3/4 ports were the Marvell controllers, so I won't use those. I also found out that both my current add-on controllers, SuperMicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 and AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 are also Marvell-based and don't work well with unRAID. *cry*

 

Ordered two LSI 9211-8i already flashed to IT mode P19 to replace them, and hopefully between that and not using the Marvell ports on my EP2C602 I won't have any other hardware issues.

Edited by deusxanime

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You should be good with the 9211s.  I have a LSI 9201-16i and a Dell H310 in mine for extra controllers.

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