ASRock Rack Has One Of The Best, Most Open-Source Firmware x86 Server Motherboards
Written by Michael Larabel in Coreboot on 15 July 2021 at 02:27 PM EDT. 25 Comments
COREBOOT --
For those wanting to get into open-source firmware development or even just to have a small SOHO x86_64 low-cost Intel server platform that is as open as possible, ASRock Rack happens to now boast one of the best solutions.

The ASRock Rack E3C246D4I has happened to work its way into a unique position of having both OpenBMC support for open-source BMC support as well as Coreboot support for open-source system firmware while being a relatively young platform (compared to many open-source Coreboot ports to AMD Opterons or other old systems) while being less expensive than say the POWER9 wares from Raptor.

The ASRock Rack E3C246D4I is for Intel Xeon E-2100 Coffee Lake processors, which aren't latest generation but not that old either -- certainly not as bad as what we are used to seeing out of Coreboot-supported motherboards with much older processors. Also making the E3C246D4I fun is that it's a mini-ITX board so can fit within space-constrained environments especially if a firmware hacker running this board on your desk.

While this ASRock Rack board happens to ship with a proprietary software stack for its ASpeed AST2500 BMC and an AMI UEFI BIOS, it can now be freed. With the recently released Linux 5.13 kernel there is the previously covered work for allowing OpenBMC usage with this motherboard. Linux 5.13 has the DeviceTree support and other bits for being able to serve as a nice OpenBMC development platform.


Now 9elements Cyber Security has also completed a Coreboot port to this motherboard. There is the Coreboot port published that does get working functionality with the open-source system firmware including for the 10G NIC, USB booting, AST2500 BMC, and other functionality. At least one bit not yet working though is SeaBIOS support.

This Coffee Lake motherboard does still depend upon the Intel FSP, but at least the rest of the support is there and in the open now both for the BMC and system firmware. Details on the new Coreboot port via 9esec.io.

The ASRock Rack E3C246D4I mini-ITX server board can be found at various Internet retailers in the $230~260 price range, making it much easier to procure than other older Intel/AMD Coreboot server boards.
Related News
About The Author
Author picture

Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

Popular News This Week