Originally Posted by NameUnknown
Is there any notable benefit to using a server/workstation motherboard over a standard motherboard. I get that there is the ECC RAM and possibly better RAID controllers, but that aside is it really worth getting the server/workstation boards over a Z77 or something like that?
Sever motherboard advantages include:
- Most decent boards include remote KVM or at least IPMI manageability so that you can access the server/console in the event of an operating system crash. A decent remote management solution will actually let you do a bare-metal recovery or install a fresh operating system without even sticking a CD in the machine or being at the keyboard while you do the work.
- Most real server motherboards also have server-grade Ethernet chipsets on them. Even the Intel Ethernet chipsets on (82579, for example) on desktop motherboards are usually not supported with server operating systems like VMware or Windows 2008 R2 or Windows 2012. Linux supports just about everything, so that's not an issue under Linux.
- ECC RAM is supported on a lot of desktop boards too, BUT only if the CPU supports it. For example, the Intel X79 chipset supports ECC, but ONLY if you use a Intel Xeon processor on the board. Stick a i7-3930K or 3820 in the socket, and ECC is disabled because the CPU doesn't support ECC with it's integrated memory controller. A lot of AMD boards support ECC, even for workstation/desktop processors.
Do NOT underestimate the advantages of ECC in a server where large amounts of memory may sit unchanged for a long period of time. Cosmic rays, RF/EMI emissions in the environment, etc., can all have a nasty effect of causing "bit flipping" in memory. It might not happen that often, but when it does - single-bit ECC detection and correction can mean the difference between a crash, bad data being written to disk, or some other difficulty to track and fix problem.