Gigabyte Server at Computex 2016

Gigabyte Chenbro 60 bay storage with hot swap expander
Gigabyte Chenbro 60 bay storage with hot swap expander

At Computex 2016 I had the chance to visit both Gigabyte’s server  floor exhibit and their private room in Taipei 101. There are several items I am not going to publish just yet due to Intel press embargoes we are honoring. Suffice to say, Gigabyte has several items we think STH readers will be extremely excited to see. We will also have our first Gigabyte Xeon D-1541 based motherboard review up in the next few days. Instead we wanted to focus on non-embargoed systems that we can discuss.

Cavium ThunderX Systems

We already provided an overview of the Gigabyte R120-T30 single Cavium ThunderX 48 core 2.0GHz server. We did get to view one of their higher-end models in-person. As part of our discussion we did bring up the fact that we have many STH readers who mailed us asking how to get them and hope to get regional pricing details in the next few weeks.

Perhaps the most interesting model we saw was a design that allowed a dual socket Cavium Thunder X SoC in each sled with four sleds per 2U chassis. This is a very popular design and we used to run STH on similar systems. We took a shot (please excuse the dimly lit room) of the node next to Intel E5-2600 V4 nodes that were installed in the chassis.

Gigabyte 2P 4-in-2U Cavium ThunderX
Gigabyte Server 2P 4-in-2U Cavium ThunderX

We asked Gigabyte and they expect that it would be possible to put a Cavium ThunderX node in the same chassis as the Intel nodes. This was seen as a benefit for companies and developers that wanted to use Cavium parts in addition to traditional Intel infrastructure.

We also saw the Gigabyte MT60-SC0 motherboard in-person for the first time. The Gigabyte MT60-SC0 is the dual processor Cavium ThunderX motherboard that can support the 24x SATA III ports along with 3x 40GbE ports and 4x 10GbE ports (SFP+).

Gigabyte Cavium 2P 2U
Gigabyte Server with Cavium 2P 2U

In our testing of the 1U platform, we have seen storage and networking to be strong points of the Cavium platform. As a result, the prospect of having a system with that much storage and networking onboard is intriguing.

60-bay 4U Storage Server

Gigabyte showed off a 60-bay storage chassis with a built-in dual Intel Xeon E5-2600 V4 server. This is a form factor that is absolutely exploding in popularity. We saw this 60-bay storage server being showcased at the Chenbro booth as well as it has some unique features. Perhaps one of the most unique features was that the units SAS expanders are installed in labeled 3.5″ bays. Using this design, the SAS expanders are hot swappable even in the large chassis. With so much storage available, this design allows the Gigabyte solution to speed servicing of the units in the field.

Gigabyte Chenbro 60 bay storage with hot swap expander
Gigabyte Chenbro 60 bay storage with hot swap expander

Similarly, the Gigabyte solution has a tool-less drive sled. Four drive screws can take over a minute to install in a drive tray. The Gigabyte solution uses tool-less drive trays that can have drives installed in under 5 seconds. With 60 drives in a chassis, that is over an hour savings.

Final Thoughts

Overall we were very excited by what we saw from Gigabyte server, including servers that are still over a quarter from release. We expect that the company’s leadership in the ARM ecosystem with its Cavium, Applied Micro and Annapurna Labs platforms will start to pay dividends as we see the ARM ecosystem mature over the coming quarters. We have been seeing the impacts of the maturing ARM software ecosystem first hand. Taking a leadership role with the new generations of chips, like the ThunderX, we think Gigabyte will find success in this emerging market.


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