At STH, we have done a review of the Intel Xeon W-3275 along with platforms such as the ASUS Pro WS C621-64L SAGE/10G, ASUS ROG Dominus Extreme, and Supermicro X11SPA-T. While that is a good set, Intel needs to push the Xeon W-3200 series more due to the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X launch. Gigabyte is responding to that push with a new motherboard. Dubbed the Gigabyte MU71-SU0 we like what Gigabyte has done with the platform. As a bonus, we also saw in the same release that Gigabyte is releasing the MD71-HB1 which is an EATX dual Xeon Scalable motherboard with 7 PCIe slots.
Gigabyte MU71-SU0 Xeon W-3200 Series Platform
Although the Gigabyte MU71-SU0 is being marketed as an Intel Xeon W-3200 series platform, it can also support 2nd generation Intel Xeon Scalable CPUs which also adds Optane DCPMM support.
The Gigabyte MU71-SU0 has seven PCIe slots of which six are physically x16 slots. Three can be full PCIe x16 electrical if the other three are not populated. If all six x16 slots are populated, they all run at x8 due to the number of PCIe lanes available on the platform. There is also a Gen3 x4 slot as well as a M.2 slot. There is no onboard U.2 nor 10GbE LAN so it seems as though Gigabyte is expecting you to use PCIe for storage and networking interfaces.
We like that Gigabyte is providing all of this functionality with a BMC for remote management as well. That is a feature we have seen missing from some offerings but can be a key differentiator.
Overall, this looks like a really interesting platform for the Xeon W-3200 series that needs more motherboard diversity.
Gigabyte MD71-HB1 Dual Intel Xeon Scalable Motherboard
The Gigabyte MD71-HB1 is an EATX dual-socket Intel Xeon Scalable platform that is an important incremental improvement over the -HB0 alternative. Gigabyte is giving each socket six DIMMs so it can still achieve full memory bandwidth. That streamlined memory design means that the company can include 7x PCIe slots. One ask we have heard several times is for an EATX motherboard form factor with more PCIe slots. EATX is popular because it is easy to integrate into a wide range of chassis.
Here, the Gigabyte MD71-HB1 combines seven PCIe slots, two M.2 slots, 2x 10Gbase-T + 2x 1Gbase-T LAN all into an EATX package.
One loses the full RAM capacity of Xeon Scalable, but it gains more PCIe flexibility that is also aided from some clever PCIe switching on the block diagram above.
We are getting fairly late in the LGA3647 (Socket P0) lifecycle with Ice Lake Xeons set to be released in the second half of 2020. Still, this is a product where we feel that Gigabyte took feedback and built the MD71-HB1 to address some specific market needs.
It feels like the Gigabyte MU71-SU0 and MD71-HB1 are direct responses to asks that we have seen from STH readers over the past Xeon cycle. We wish they arrived earlier in the cycle but they still provide a lot of interesting features. We have not heard if we are reviewing these yet, but we would be excited to do so.