The Gigabyte WRX80-SU8-IPMI is a single-socket motherboard that gently walks a thin line between a workstation and server offering. This motherboard features an AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro SP3 socket that, while billed as a workstation processor, borrows so much from the EPYC server line that we call it the “WEPYC” internally for “Workstation EPYC”. While this is not the highest volume platform, we are seeing a number of vendors offer unique spins on bringing all of the platform capabilities to the market. In this quick overview, we are going to look at what Gigabyte offers.
Gigabyte WRX80-SU8-IPMI Overview
The Gigabyte WRX80-SU8-IPMI is a CEB Form Factor motherboard, so it is on the larger side for single-socket motherboards at 305mm x 267mm. Still, this makes it more practical to integrate into existing systems than proprietary form factor server motherboards that are popular in this generation. Also, many of the EPYC server motherboards we have seen in smaller form factors offer significantly less functionality, and this system looks absolutely packed.
We have the annotated picture above just to get a sense of the main features we want to discuss in this quick piece. First, the headline feature is support for the AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro processors which in March 2021 will allow bespoke workstations to be built. Unlike the desktop Threadripper CPUs, these have full PCIe capabilities and 8-channel ECC LRDIMM support for up to 2TB of memory capacity. Unlike the server EPYCs with those features, Threadripper Pro has an AMD WRX80 chipset that gives us a lot of the workstation features such as USB 3.2 Gen2 capabilities.
For PCIe we get seven PCIe Gen4 slots. Six are x16 electrical while one is x8. In addition, we get two M.2 SSD slots onboard. There is edge connectivity for 4x SATA III but also three SlimSAS connectors that can be either PCIe Gen4 x4 or four lanes of SATA III. We discussed a bit about how using a PCIe Gen4 x1 lane as SATA III is useful, but a much lower performing option in our Kioxia CD6-L PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD Review Ending Data Center SATA. Still, this gives one the ability to get up to 16x SATA III lanes from the motherboard.
For connectivity, we get dual Intel i210 for 1GbE. 10GbE is provided by the Intel X550. This is a higher-end solution than the Marvell 10Gbase-T used on some other Threadripper Pro boards. A key difference here is that we do not get a dedicated RJ45 port for management. Instead, management is on a shared i210AT setup. The system itself has an ASPEED AST2500 BMC which is interesting since Supermicro is moving to the Aspeed AST2600 BMC for their Threadripper Pro offering.
Along with the NICs and USB ports, we also get legacy VGA/ serial and a full audio connector set. One can find server motherboards with dual Intel i210AT and X550 networking, but the USB and audio additions make this a much more suitable workstation platform than using a server motherboard for a workstation.
If you want to learn more about the CPU, you can see our AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3995WX Review A Bold WEPYC and a video discussing the new processor family here:
Gigabyte is offering a number of upgrades over the original Lenovo ThinkStation P620 offering. Examples include a Baseboard Management Controller or BMC for server-like management, higher-end networking, and more PCIe connectivity.
Perhaps the biggest feature is that with this platform, Gigabyte will allow one to make their own system, whether that is a workstation effectively built around a high-end “WEPYC” or a server built around a Threadripper Pro. The former is something STH attempted with its Ultra EPYC project building a workstation with a Gigabyte AMD EPYC motherboard in a Sun Ultra 24 chassis well before the Threadripper Pro was launched.