Compact passively-cooled systems find application in a wide variety of market segments including industrial automation, IoT gateways, medical systems, kiosks, surveillance, and digital signage. These are meant to be deployed for 24x7 operation in challenging environmental conditions. The requirements in these segments are often ignored by traditional consumer PCs - wide operating temperature range, ruggedness, support for specific I/O types, etc. Absence of moving parts (fanless nature) reduces scope for system failure.

Supermicro has a number of systems targeting this market under the Embedded/IoT category. Their SuperServer E100 product line makes use of motherboards in the 3.5" SBC form-factor. In particular, the E100-12T lineup makes use of embedded Tiger Lake-U SoCs to create powerful, yet compact and fanless systems.

The SYS-E100-12T-H based on the Intel Core i7-1185GRE is the highest performing system in the lineup. The review below takes a detailed look at the features and performance profile of the system, along with an evaluation of the thermal solution.

Introduction and Product Impressions

Supermicro's SYS-E100-12T series of systems is based on the Super X12STN 3.5" SBC boards. Each board is available to end customers in two variants - one with an integrated heatsink, and another without (WOHS). The SYS-E100-12T takes the Super X12STN-WOHS board and mounts it inside the CES-E101-03 fanless case meant for boards in this particular form factor.

Processors meant for the embedded market make it to end customers much later than their consumer counterparts - they have a long life-cycle, and the qualification cycles are lengthy too. Even though Intel's Alder Lake processors are trickling into ultra-compact form-factor systems already, the time for wide availability of Supermicro's SYS-E100-12T has come only now.

Despite the SYS-E100-12T series being tagged as SuperServer systems, the systems do not use ECC memory. There is no separate BMC, but that is not a surprise for a machine based on a 3.5" SBC board. However, to make up for that, the SYS-E100-12T-H does support vPro and remote management capabilities use AMT. The system also supports Supermicro's monitoring utility 'SuperDoctor' - this allows Nagios integration for centralized infrastructure monitoring.

In keeping up with the target market's requirements, the SYS-E100-12T comes with a wide range of I/O interfaces - two NBASE-T (up to 2.5Gbps) LAN connections, four USB 2.0 ports, a serial port, multiple COM ports, four USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (three Type-A and one Type-C), and support for analog audio outputs, WLAN cards, and nano SIM cards.

In addition to the main unit, Supermicro supplies a lockable 12V 7A (84W) DC power adapter, thermal pads for cards to be installed on the board, screws for the installation, as well as mounting hardware for the system.

Our review sample included 2x 32GB DDR4-3200 SODIMMs as well as a 240GB InnoDisk M.2 NVMe drive. The full specifications of the review sample are provided in the table below.

Supermicro SM-E100-12T-H Specifications
(as tested)
Processor Intel Core i7-1185GRE
Tiger Lake 4C/8T, 1.8 - 4.4 GHz
Intel 10nm SuperFin, 12MB L2, 15W
Memory Innodisk M4SE-BGS2OC0M-A DDR4-3200 SODIMM
22-22-22-52 @ 3200 MHz
2x32 GB
Graphics Intel Iris Xe Graphics
(96EU @ 1.35 GHz)
Disk Drive(s) Innodisk M.2 (S80) 3TE7 DEM28-B56DK1EW1QF
(256 GB; M.2 2280 SATA III;)
(64L 3D TLC; InnoDisk ID301 Controller)
Networking 2x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Intel I225-IT)
Audio Realtek ALC888S Audio Codec On-board (Optional Audio Jack, N/A in Review System)
Audio Bitstreaming Support over HDMI Ports
Video 1x HDMI 2.0b
1x HDMI 1.4b
Miscellaneous I/O Ports 3x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Front)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (Front)
4x USB 2.0 (Rear)
Digital I/O via DB9 (Rear)
4x RS-232 COM (Rear)
Operating System Windows 11 Enterprise (22000.708)
Pricing (Street Pricing on June 6th, 2022)
US $1216 (Barebones)
US $1866 (as configured, no OS)
Full Specifications Supermicro SuperServer E100-12T-H Specifications

Supermicro is in the process of expanding retail availability of the system. Currently, only one e-tailer has a listing for the product. The SM-E100-12T-H stands out from the the embedded / industrial PCs reviewed previously by us. Dual NBASE-T (2.5 GbE) ports and the presence of a Type-C port are unique selling points. The motherboard used in the system is also quite flexible.

The chassis is made of extruded aluminum and carries significant heft. The top of the chassis mounts as a heat sink on the processor, allowing heat to be dissipated away quickly. A few photographs of the internals of the system are provided in the gallery below.

In the next section, we take a look at the system setup and follow it up with a detailed platform analysis.

Setup Notes and Platform Analysis
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  • thestryker - Wednesday, June 8, 2022 - link

    I believe they resolved all of these issues with the third revision of the V. It looks like the IT was released later and is a bit different so it seems like a fairly safe bet this one should be okay.
  • rachana - Friday, July 29, 2022 - link

  • abufrejoval - Thursday, June 9, 2022 - link

    Got an Intel NUC variant with the i7-1165G7 (as well as G8/G10 predecessors).

    Biggest advantage of recent NUCs is the ability to tune PL1/2/TAU and fan parameters freely.

    PL2 is set to 67 Watts by default and results in a howler, so I spent some time to find propper settings all around, that would a) give me the highest short-term peak power possible for interactive stuff b) never raise the fan to the point where it's 'noticeable'. 50/28 Watts and 10 seconds of TAU have the fan stay below 3200rpm and work for me.

    The system runs as a mini server 24/7 in my home-lab, so I've always looked for fully passive, but getting that beyond Atoms has been very tough if not impossible, e.g. Akasa never made a chassis to match my Tiger Canyon. But with those fan settings I can manage, even if it means the CPU will occasionally hit 100°C.

    The 96EU Tiger Lake iGPU seems designed to top out at 16 Watts: it won't ever use more but it gets priority over CPU cores, which will have to make do with what's left over. If indeed SuperMicro fixes PL1/2 at 15 Watts, that will not make for a smooth experience. I've just tried that on my NUC and the stuttering is awful. Game engines most likely won't be able to compensate the fight over power budget allocations. Atom iGPUs up to Jasper Lake likewise seem fixed at 5 Watts.

    But then dissipating 15 Watts at high ambients might still is a challenge so to stay with the form factor they may have had no choice. On max power the TigerLake mobile SoCs will happily burn 80 Watts for quite a while and that would require a truely massive chassis.

    AFAIK ECC DRAM support simply isn't available on any Tiger Lake silicon, not just fused off like usual, so there is nothing SuperMicro could do to support it.

    ECC support on AMD APU seems rather bad, too. Pro-variants of AM4 APUs have it, but I've yet to find any board with a soldered -H or -U APU that supports ECC DRAM for ease of mind in a microserver setup. I'd love to know if the required 'pins' on the BGA are even available.
  • kgardas - Thursday, June 9, 2022 - link

    Your "AFAIK ECC DRAM support..." is wrong here. There are plethora of lines of TGL, but one is for embedded devices. You can distinct them by seeing 'G7E' and 'GRE' suffexes in name. Now, while G7E is with zero ECC RAM support, 'GRE' is where live becomes interesting as this line supports In-Band ECC. This In-Band ECC is just an Intel way how to support ECC with non-ECC RAM sticks. Part of RAM size is dedicated for ECC bits and SoC's memory controller make that working.
    And now, the review is about unit with i7-1185GRE -- so you know why have I asked about the feature.
  • fazalmajid - Thursday, June 9, 2022 - link

    Every manufacturer should adopt the locking power barrel connector.
  • bansheexyz - Thursday, June 9, 2022 - link

    I always wondered why mini-itx didn't evolve into something more like this, where the case itself is part of the spec and acts as a giant heatsink. If you're going to have a fan, an internal PSU, and a video card, then just get an ATX board? Instead, the only way to get this small and thin is to pay a $700 premium for custom everything.

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