Intel's Coffee Lake-based Xeon E chips have been around for a little bit now, and every major vendor is peddling products meant for those CPUs. Asus has a couple of motherboards for Xeon-E builders, as well as E500 G5 workstations barebones systems that use them. Let's have a glance at Asus' WS C246 Pro and WS C246M Pro motherboards. The two boards on show are nearly identical aside from their size, although the differing dimensions obviously result in a few minor alterations.
Despite being listed as part of "products formerly Cannon Lake" in Intel's ARK database, the C246 chipset appears to be a very close relative of the consumer Z370 chipset. The primary difference in the two is the C246 chipset supports Xeon CPUs, and in turn, ECC memory.
Either board supports Coffee Lake-family LGA 1151 CPUs, from the Xeon E chips mentioned above on down to the Celeron G-series chips. They both come with four DDR4 DIMM slots supporting regular or ECC memory at up to 2666 MT/s. Both boards have eight SATA ports, dual Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet connectors, and two USB 3.1 ports of unspecified speed. Finally, since most of the new Xeon E CPUs include integrated graphics, both boards can use HDMI, DisplayPort, or VGA connections.
The WS C246 PRO board gets no less than four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. Naturally, only the first slot is capable of operating in x16 mode, and that lane allotment is split between the first two slots when both are in use. The third and fourth x16 slots are connected to the C246 chipset, and top out at four lanes each. The larger board also gets a second M.2 socket, a USB 3.1 Type-C port replacing a Type-A connector, and a DVI-D jack—all of which the smaller board lacks. However, the smaller WS C246M Pro has a "rack-optimized" layout with the DIMM and CPU sockets rotated 90 degrees compared to the larger board.
Perhaps because most companies aren't building their own systems, Asus offers the boards as part of its E500 G5 workstations. The WS C246 Pro comes in the full-sized E500 G5 tower, while the WS C246M Pro drops into the E500 G5 small-form-factor (SFF) machine. Asus offers the chassis with the motherboard and power supply pre-installed so that users can simply drop in their own memory, storage, and processor.
While this hardware has been up on Asus' site for a few days, the company didn't tell us when or for how much builders could start buying the parts. We'd expect it to show up at e-tailers sooner rather than later.