Gigabyte puts server chipset on Sandy Bridge-E motherboard

Computex — Despite its breathtaking bandwidth, Intel’s X79 platform was somewhat of a disappointment when it launched. The chipset lacked the extra SAS and SATA ports many were expecting, and Intel restricted the accompanying Sandy Bridge-E CPUs to six cores, although the SB-E silicon has eight. While visiting Gigabyte’s Computex showcase in Taipei, Taiwan, we were introduced to a motherboard that finally makes good on the platform’s potential.

The GA-X79S-UP5 is Gigabyte’s latest Sandy Bridge-E motherboard, and despite its name, the board actually features Intel’s server-grade C606 platform hub. This is the chip the X79 was supposed to be. In addition to two 6Gbps and four 3Gbps SATA ports, the C606 comes loaded with eight Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) ports. These SAS ports will also work with Serial ATA drives, although only at 3Gbps speeds. That’s a whopping 14 storage ports from the platform hub.

Otherwise, the C606 appears to be similar to the X79. That means no native USB 3.0 support, but Gigabyte has employed auxiliary controller silicon to give the board six SuperSpeed USB ports. Also included are dual FireWire ports, four PCIe x16 slots, and eight DIMM slots. All of Gigabyte’s new SB-E boards will offer eight DIMM slots, and this one supports ECC memory, as well. The LGA2011 socket can also accept Xeon CPUs, allowing users to drop in eight-core processors.

One such CPU powered the GA-X79S-UP5 demo system, which featured Nvidia Quadro and Tesla cards running in SLI. The rig was equipped with an SSD array fast enough to push over 7300MB/s in IOMeter.

The GA-X79S-UP5 is part of Gigabyte’s fifth-generation Ultra Durable family, which features fancy new MOSFETs from International Rectifier. Gigabyte claims these IR3550 PowIRStage components can lower the temperature of the power circuitry by up to 40°C versus the previous generation’s Low RDS(on) MOSFETs. Systems with water coolers that provide little airflow around the CPU socket should benefit the most from the new components, the company says.

You won’t have to spring for the GA-X79S-UP5 to get the PowIRStage components. They’re available in a whole new line of Ultra Durable boards that can be identified by a P in the model suffix. The -UPx boards will be more expensive than the equivalent UD models, which will continue to be available.

Comments closed
    • 0g1
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]The rig was equipped with an SSD array fast enough to push over 7300MB/s in IOMeter.[/quote<] Yeah, that would have to be off one of the PCIe slots (prob 16x PCIe 2.0 allowing for a max of 8000MB/s) ... with prob 16 SSD's connected on SATA 3 6gbps. Pity they couldn't include 16 SATA 3 slots onboard. That woulda been sweet. Their mix of what seems to be 3 different controllers with ports at different speeds is a mess ... all they needed was the Intel one and a 4 port mini SAS controller.

      • 0g1
      • 7 years ago

      My dream file server board: MicroATX board size, (2) PCIe 3.0 16x slots (for expansion with two more controller cards, just a 4 core/ 8 thread socket 1155, 4 DIMMs, 1gbe (compatible with older networks), 11ac Wifi (every file server needs wifi), 6 USB 3.0 ports (always end up needing USB peripherals), no FireWire, no eSATA, onboard HDMI and DVI is good so I don’t need a graphics card (and Ivy Bridge has a good GPU integrated), just the standard intel south bridge SATA 3.0 ports (4 I think is OK for an OS storage and caching system), then for the storage array a 4 port mini SAS controller allowing 16 SATA 2.0 drives (8 ports mini SAS for 32 drives would be nice for an extreme mobo), and InfiniBand (!) with VPI on QSFP connector at FDR 4x speeds (for transferring files between computers either linked directly or on a 10-40GbitE switch or 56GbitIB switch.

    • Jigar
    • 7 years ago

    If only HDD price were low, i would have enjoyed the large farm storage…

      • 0g1
      • 7 years ago

      Hell yeah. This hard drive price hike is lasting way too long. And so annoying to have to buy external drives to get the internal out. Can find some good deals tho … 130$ for 3TB isn’t too bad.

    • McRuff
    • 7 years ago

    Wow and I had just convinced myself that I didn’t really need to update my X58 motherboard.

    Can you imagine a system based on this board running Windows 8. Your One App at a time would really fly.

      • anotherengineer
      • 7 years ago

      Especially if it was hitched up to a 4200rpm 160GB sata 1 laptop hard drive………..whoooooooooosh.

    • Zoomer
    • 7 years ago

    Does using a server chipset hamper overclocking in any way?

      • continuum
      • 7 years ago

      IIRC, you can only OC via the bus speed or whatever it is, which means you might go from 100mhz to 105mhz… so 5% OC. Not much?

      I could be wrong here.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      Overclocking can only be safely be done on most SB chips by increasing the CPU multiplier, since the clock generator is on the chip itself.

      Which means that overclocking QPI link ends up getting everything tie to it getting overclocked (PCI, PCIe, memory bus). PCI and PCIe devices typically don’t like operating beyond spec especially disk controllers.

    • mczak
    • 7 years ago

    Too bad you can’t just reenable these features on X79 (unless I’m badly mistaken it’s the same silicon). That would be cheaper :-). Granted SAS isn’t something you’d ever need on a desktop board, but more sata ports are nice if you’re trying to build some 30 Terabyte storage box :-).
    The description however makes it sound like typically X79 is limited to 6-core cpus, but afaik all x79 boards accept Xeons just fine (though they technically are indeed not part of the platform). I’ve seen cpus with better performance/$ ratio though than those 8-core xeons, to put it mildly – the i7-3960X looks like a bargain compared to these…

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Granted SAS isn't something you'd ever need on a desktop board[/quote<] Speak for yourself, not everybody has the same needs.

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        Well, you could just put a workstation board in a desktop chassis- and call it a workstation, in his defense.

        But I feel strongly that the flexibility is nice; having the ability to put real SAS drives in the system is nice, and being able to shove an 8-core CPU along with three full-size GPUs is also nice. Lot of power and flexibility in that box.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Now that’s a motherboard that should be floating around the $300-$400 range and it doesn’t have a TB port either.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      I would guess this would be more around the 500-600 range putting it in range of high end workstation boards.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        You can get multi-cpu motherboards in the $300-400 range, and even $200 depending on the socket.

    • RichardLAnderson
    • 7 years ago

    [url<]http://goo.gl/rOaVo[/url<]

      • bacondreamer
      • 7 years ago

      [url<]http://goo.gl/8dEGk[/url<] See I can do that too! 😀 Besides, I think this one makes more sense for this board.

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    Dat heatsink

    • LauRoman
    • 7 years ago

    Mmmm… Sata.

    • flip-mode
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]The LGA1366 socket can also accept Xeon CPUs, allowing users to drop in eight-core processors.[/quote<] LGA 2011?

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      That socket is [i<]so[/i<] 2011.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]The LGA1366 socket can also accept Xeon CPUs, allowing users to drop in eight-core processors.[/quote<] LGA 1366?

      • PainIs4ThaWeak1
      • 7 years ago

      Exactly what I was just thinking…

      • Dissonance
      • 7 years ago

      Fixed. Writing at the end of a 16-hour day is… challenging.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        It’s cool, I’m watching out for you brah. 😀

        • entropy13
        • 7 years ago

        Since when did we stop having 24 hours a day???

        Yeah, I get it, but the statement could be interpreted that way…LOL

      • kc77
      • 7 years ago

      See Intel does have an upgrade path. 😀

    • DancinJack
    • 7 years ago

    MSRP: 499 USD 😆

    e: That’s just a guess. It will be expensive though.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      That is actually very reasonable. Premium boards go for $300+ and adding a SAS controller easily goes for $200 + you still have a ton of expansion left.

        • superjawes
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, when your potential customers are looking to buy a board that could house 64GB RAM and 56TB storage (without SSDs or PCI untilization), I don’t think paying $500 for the board is going to matter too much to them.

    • Forge
    • 7 years ago

    Oh dear sweet Gord, we wants it. Gives it to us, we wants it, and it’s our birthday, Precious.

    This, plus a subsidy to chase down one of those 8 core/16 thread UP Xeons, and Forge would be a very, very, very happy boy.

    Intel, please send me an E5-2690! I would love you LONG TIME!

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