Gigabyte R281-G30 Versatile Compute Platform Review

Gigabyte R281 G30 Three Quarter
Gigabyte R281 G30 Three Quarter

The Gigabyte R281-G30 is something different. It is a 2U server with the express goal of supporting multiple GPUs. This addresses a major trend in the industry where server vendors are meeting customer needs by making general purpose 2U workhorse servers GPU capable. Years ago we saw mainstream 2U servers potentially handling one or two GPUs, sometimes only those GPUs with single width coolers. The Gigabyte R281-G30 supports up to three double-width GPUs marking a leadership position in the market.

Gigabyte R281 G30 Nvidia Smi
Gigabyte R281 G30 Nvidia Smi

Beyond the headlines of the triple GPU support, the Gigabyte R281-G30 is a 2U server that supports dual Intel Xeon Scalable CPUs. Storage is extremely interesting supporting 24x SATA III / SAS3 drives as well.

Gigabyte R281-G30 Configuration Overview

Gigabyte sent us the base server for review, and we outfitted it with a few different configurations.

  • Server: Gigabyte R281-G30 2U server
  • CPUs:¬†2x Intel Xeon Platinum 8180, 2x Intel Xeon Gold 6152, 2x Intel Xeon Gold 6138, 2x Intel Xeon Gold 5119T, 2x Intel Xeon Silver 4116, 2x Intel Xeon Bronze 3106
  • RAM: 192GB in 12x 16GB DDR4-2666MHz RDIMMs
  • SAS Controller: Broadcom SAS 3008
  • SATA III Storage: 8x Intel DC S3710 400GB
  • 10GbE NIC: Mellanox ConnectX-3 EN OCP Mezzanine
  • 25GbE NIC: Broadcom 25GbE OCP Mezzanine
  • 40GbE NIC:¬†Mellanox ConnectX-3 EN Pro
  • 100GBE NIC:¬†Mellanox ConnectX-4
  • GPUs: 3x NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition

With the Gigabyte R281-G30, one gets 24 front panel bays for SATA III or SAS3 drives (using an add-on controller.) The chassis SAS3 expander provides connectivity to the drive bays but there are customization options using the Gigabyte backplane to add additional U.2 NVMe support.

As we go through the server hardware, we are going to show how networking and expansion options abound in the platform. The server has 1GbE networking built-in but we see the vast majority of servers based on this platform being deployed with 25/40/50/100GbE so we wanted to be sure to work with that. We absolutely love the dual OCP mezzanine networking setup we were able to use with this platform.

On the RAM side, the system supports up to 24x RDIMMs. We used a single DIMM per channel configuration but there is room for significant expansion here. We also used a variety of CPUs, however, we think that if you are buying this server you will move up the Xeon CPU stack well beyond the Xeon Bronze series. We still wanted to show a broad set of performance scenarios so you can get a sense of different options.

Next, we are going to delve into the hardware overview. We are then going to look at the management features and the block diagram for the server. After that, we are going to cover operational aspects including performance and power consumption before giving our final thoughts on the platform.


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