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A window into the Digital Life of Bryan Vyhmeister

Updates on the Intel Server Board S1200KP and VT-d

I have recently written two posts centering on the Intel Server Board S1200KP and have now been made aware of an additional detail that is important about the S1200KP motherboard. When I originally found the board and wrote about it on February 19, I made a few assumptions about the board’s capabilities. Thanks to some comments on the two posts, I now know that my assumption was incorrect.

While nearly all the motherboards intended to use the Intel Xeon E3 line of processors have VT-d support, the S1200KP has the notable distinction of not supporting VT-d. Why? You would have to ask Intel on that one. It makes absolutely no sense and should be corrected by a firmware update. In the case of the only other board I know of with the C206 chipset, the Asus P8B WS, Asus initally released the board without VT-d support but added it later with a BIOS update. Intel could certainly do the exact same thing.

Why they have not, I don’t know. I understand the argument that VT-d is less useful on a Mini-ITX board since it only has a single PCI Express slot but it would still be nice as an ESXi 5.0 system in a compact case and then passing a controller or video card through to a guest. I’m planning to contact Intel and complain about this omission since it makes a big difference on whether this board is a good value for my use cases.

The lack of VT-d does not invalidate the use of the board for a NAS and/or with ZFS but it is quite disappointing for more advanced virtualization. The S1200KP will still work fine for the majority of virtualization tasks since it does have VT-x but it is a potentially drastic limitation. Hopefully Intel will take this seriously and rectify the problem soon.

Thanks to John in the comments on my earlier post for pointing this issue out. It is discussed in a blog post here and on a forum here.