Gigabyte presents a barbershop quartet of Xeon D mobos

For most gerbils, Gigabyte is a name associated with consumer-grade motherboards and graphics cards. However, the company has always operated in the server arena, too, and it's showing what it can do with four motherboards built around Intel's Xeon D products.

These motherboards don't have a standard socketed CPU and chipset setup—Xeon Ds are systems-on-a-chip (SoCs). The mobos can take up to 128GB of ECC DDR4 memory with a maximum speed of 2133 MT/s. Storage is handled by six SATA 6Gbps ports, one of them with SATA DOM support. An Intel I210 controller offers two Gigabit Ethernet ports for networking needs. A third Ethernet port handles remote management duties, in tandem with an ASpeed AST2400 controller and Avocent's MergePoint IPMI 2.0 software.

The new models differ in CPU power and network connectivity. The MB10-DS1 and MB10-DS4 motherboards include a Xeon D-1521 SoC, whose CPU portion is a four-core, eight-thread unit with 6MB of cache. That chip runs at 2.4GHz base and 2.7GHz boost clocks. While the MB10-DS1 relies on dual Gigabit Ethernet for connectivity, the MB10-DS4 brings out the big guns: two extra SFP+ 10GbE ports, courtesy of a Cortina CS4227 controller.

Should the Xeon D-1521's four cores not suffice for your needs, Gigabyte has you covered. The firm also offers the MB10-DS0 and MB10-DS3 models with Xeon D-1541 SoCs, which have an eight-core, 16-thread CPU with 12MB of cache and clocks ranging from 2.1GHz to 2.7GHz. As with the two models mentioned above, the MB10-DS0 has dual GbE connectivity, while the MB10-DS3 adds two 10GbE ports on top of that.

I'm entertaining thoughts of grabbing one of these to handle file storage and virtual machine hosting in my home. I bet more than a couple gerbils are thinking the same.

Comments closed
    • TheMonkeyKing
    • 4 years ago

    I saw IPMI 2.0 and had to read up on it.

    Has PXE and Wake-on-LAN fallen out of favor? I know that stuff is nearly 20 years old but it functioned really well.

    • Chrispy_
    • 4 years ago

    I got all excited when I saw the SFP+ 10GbE ports!

    Then I read that they weren’t Intel. No matter, there are other good 10GbE controllers.

    But they weren’t QLogic, nor Brocade. Hmm, who else makes good controllers. I guess there’s Melanox and Emulex, though I’ve not come across them myself at least I’ve [i<]heard[/i<] of them. Hell, I'd even understand if they were Broadcom; I have issues with Broadcom controllers but at least they're common server NICs and there are solutions to their known issues. No. These are [b<]Cortina[/b<] controllers. I had to Google Cortina. Apparently they made optimistic products that were poorly executed and resulted in no major OEM wins. Before going bankrupt, Realtek bought them out. DOES NOT BODE WELL.

      • psurge
      • 4 years ago

      I could be wrong, but Realtek seems to have bought Cortina Access Inc. It looks to me like the PHY chip in question was designed by Cortina Systems Inc, which [url=http://investors.inphi.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=237726&p=irol-newsArticle&id=1952817<]was acquired by Inphi[/url<].

        • Chrispy_
        • 4 years ago

        Heh, that really changes nothing – it’s still an obscure company that were struggling to survive and suffered a recent acquisition.

          • psurge
          • 4 years ago

          You said you had done some research on products from a company acquired by Realtek, and that they were poorly executed. Since the PHY in question is not a product of that company, maybe skepticism as to its quality is no longer warranted? I don’t think a company being obscure or getting acquired automatically means that its products are bad.

            • Chrispy_
            • 4 years ago

            Heh, I wouldn’t claim to have “done some research”, you’re putting words in my mouth there. I said I’d never heard of them and that I had to Google it. First match that looked likely was “Cortina aquired by Realtek”. Followed by a whole bunch of issues with Contina drivers. Total “reasearch” time, five seconds.

            You’re right, just because a company is obscure doesn’t mean its products are bad, but it usually means it’s products are lower cost and come from a smaller company with fewer validation and testing resources, so in this industry I work with it’s not an unreasonable assumption, even if it is only an assumption.

            Time will tell if they’re any good but the other players in the market survive through design wins and you only get those with top-notch validation and support. Given the cost of 10GbE switching hardware at the moment, I’m not sure anyone wants to save a few dollars on an untested, unknown controller and risk all that.

      • Plaid
      • 4 years ago

      The chip in question is only the PHY. The actual 10G ethernet controller is on-board the SoC. The PHY only converts the electrical signals from the SerDes on the SoC to the electrical signals required for the SFP+ interface. That’s it. It will have absolutely no bearing on the performance of the 10G interfaces.

    • dodozoid
    • 4 years ago

    but will it run Crysis?

      • auxy
      • 4 years ago

      Throw a decent GPU in one and I bet it will! (*’▽’)

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 4 years ago

    I wish I had the time and money to build up one of these into a PFSense/FreeNAS/LDAP/etc. system built on KVM.

    • DrCR
    • 4 years ago

    Any idea until 10 GbE becomes mainstream?

    Edit: Fixed typo.

      • Airmantharp
      • 4 years ago

      Getting there [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100158106%20600015762&IsNodeId=1&bop=And&Order=PRICE&PageSize=30<]slowly.[/url<] Still painful, but all considered not bad for being able to move >1GB/s about when needed.

        • DragonDaddyBear
        • 4 years ago

        I think one of the barriers might be power consumption when using cheaper copper over fiber.

          • Andrew Lauritzen
          • 4 years ago

          That’s maybe a barrier for laptops, but it’s not so bad that it has much of an impact on desktops. Even switches it’s fairly irrelevant to a home user with a fairly small number of ports. Price is still a much larger obstacle.

            • TruthSerum
            • 4 years ago

            Price and also market saturation. You can’t plug 10G into 1G and expect 10G.
            You have to have 10G throughout or you’re wasting the bucks.

            Nobody is really utilizing that much on a sustained basis outside of datacenters…

            • End User
            • 4 years ago

            Any consumer with a NAS would love a 10 Gigabit network. Cost is the only barrier. The need is there.

            • DragonDaddyBear
            • 4 years ago

            It’s not desktops but the switches that would be a problem. That is all heat that must be disapated. You will find fiber solutions much more common in data centers. And there just isn’t the need for home or client devices.

            • Andrew Lauritzen
            • 4 years ago

            But that’s my point, in homes and at the port counts we’re talking about even 10gbase-t is not really an issue. The switches are like ~30-100W or similar at the port counts we’re talking about which isn’t a problem

            Obviously in a data-center all of these trade-offs are different, but there 10 GbE is already “mainstream” 🙂

            • DragonDaddyBear
            • 4 years ago

            There just isn’t any real demand to get the savings that mass production down to reasonable costs for consumers. I think enterprises helped drive down 1Gbps base T but I don’t see that happening this time.

            • curtisb
            • 4 years ago

            In datacenters you’ll see switches that use SFP+ ports instead of RJ45 ports. They actually use a LOT less power than RJ45 based switches. And that’s even if you opt to use TwinAX (which I did in my DC for cost savings as the runs aren’t that far).

          • the
          • 4 years ago

          The real barrier for consumer adoption is that there is little incentive for faster wired networking. While 1 Gbit was rolling out for home equipment ~16 years ago, so was 802.11. This highlighted a consumer trend that also took place during this time period: laptops overtook desktops in terms of sales. Also during this time period ISP infrastructure in the US generally didn’t exceed 100 Mbit, much less 1 Gbit speeds. While 10 Gbit speeds have been around during this time frame, there wasn’t anything to push that speed on the consumer side of things.

          Now things are starting to get interesting. First off, it is possible to get 802.11ac speeds that exceed that of 1 Gbit ethernet which also merits faster local infrastructure to match. For now, NIC bonding appears to the short term solution but 10 Gbit local links on wireless routers should be arriving on highend devices. Another thing that has changed is that ISPs are starting to get serious in the US about offering bandwidth. Not many people have access to services like Google Fiber but they are putting pressure on existing ISPs to upgrade to similar speeds around the US (though it may cost a kidney [i<]and[/i<] your first born per month). So even with sub 1 Gbit wireless, the combination of wireless bandwidth and high speed internet uplink could merit a >1 Gbit speed for the local wired links to avoid a potential bottleneck. 802.11ad with its 60 Ghz spectrum can pull upwards of 7 Gbit which necessitates 10 Gbit local links. Hardware is literally just hitting the market with wide spread adoption set for several years in the future.

            • Krogoth
            • 4 years ago

            There’s no killer mainstream application that demands more than what 1Gpbs Ethernet and 802.11n/802.11ac can muster.

            10Gbps/40Gbps Ethernet will remain prosumer/enterprise-tier for the foreseeable future.

            • the
            • 4 years ago

            Video over IP in conjunction with 802.11ad could do it for high resolutions. Considering that line of sight is necessary for the 60 Ghz band, I see the optimal situation of people installing the 802.11ad router in the ceiling and then tunnel the video stream over the network to the display.

            • End User
            • 4 years ago

            Everyday I want something faster than gigabit ethernet and ac. For example yesterday I copied a 35GB file to my iPad Pro via ac. ac is fast but not fast enough when you want an instant copy. Faster is better. End of story

            • End User
            • 4 years ago

            [url<]http://ir.arris.com/mobile.view?c=87823&v=203&d=1&id=2096087[/url<] "This ultra-fast DOCSIS 3.1 modem delivers unprecedented data rates of more than 5 Gbps downstream and 2 Gbps upstream"

      • Krogoth
      • 4 years ago

      Once a killer mainstream application that makes 1Gbps Ethernet woefully inadequate comes around.

      Ultra-fast bandwidth needs can easily be satisfy by USB 3/3.1 and Thunderbolt with a fraction of the hassle that is involved in upgrading to CAT6e-CAT7 cabling and 10Gbps Ethernet hardware.

      Wireless Ethernet is good enough (802.11n and newer) for mainstream crowd without fiddling around with wiring.

    • Andrew Lauritzen
    • 4 years ago

    Yay more Xeon D options! Love my Xeon D home server.

    Not sure why they don’t use the standard/built-in Xeon D 10gbit ethernet solution though. Why use a 3rd party controller?

      • chuckula
      • 4 years ago

      Props on the new Clear Linux distro too.
      I’m not running big clusters of Linux servers like I used to back in the day, but it looks like a nice server platform.

      • cygnus1
      • 4 years ago

      which motherboard did you build with?

        • Andrew Lauritzen
        • 4 years ago

        Supermicro one w/ 1541 and 2x 10gbase-t. A bit pricey but overall still not that much more expensive than building a regular mini-ITX desktop machine or similar and WAAAAY cheaper than building one with 10gbase-t (the NICs are nearly as much as the entire motherboard + CPU for some reason!).

        If I didn’t already have a rackmount case I probably would have gone for the nice 1U supermicro barebones that they do with that motherboard. Amazing how small this stuff can be these days.

          • cygnus1
          • 4 years ago

          yeah, I’m leaning toward building a couple of servers down the road and definitely considering xeon D. I’m hoping to find an ideal motherboard that has more than standard number of sata/sas ports (like maybe 12 or 16 ports, don’t need RAID functionality) plus the dual 10gbase-t. I haven’t looked in a while, but I don’t recall seeing any that combined both of those on one board. I think that combo will be ideal for some VM/storage server duty at home.

      • psurge
      • 4 years ago

      I think they are – isn’t the CS4227 just the PHY?

        • Andrew Lauritzen
        • 4 years ago

        Uhh maybe, you might be right? Not sure why they’d call that out though vs. saying X544 or whatever the controller is.

        I guess these use SFP+ while the Supermicro boards are 10gbase-t as well.

          • psurge
          • 4 years ago

          I’m not an expert, but looking at a SuperMicro board with 10G Base-T, for instance the [url=http://www.supermicro.com/manuals/motherboard/D/MNL-1726.pdf<]X10SDV-TLN4F[/url<] , you can see (page 1-10) that the KR network ports of the Xeon-D package are also connected to a PHY. I don't see which one in the manual, but [url=http://www.asrockrack.com/general/productdetail.asp?Model=D1540D4I-2L2T#Specifications<]this ASRock board[/url<] calls out the Intel X557-AT2. I think the CS4227 referenced above is [url=https://www.inphi.com/products/cs4227.php<]this product[/url<]. I don't really know why specific PHYs are sometimes called out, but maybe it has to do with power-consumption? If there's wide variation, then the choice of a particular one might be a competitive advantage. Anyway, I think it's confusing to call the CS4227 a controller. I normally associate that term with something that can handle layer >1 of the networking stack.

    • Forge
    • 4 years ago

    Tell us, Precious, what do they costses? We needs to know.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 4 years ago

      I imagine it’s in the “well, if you have to ask…” category. The Newegg has a Supermicro Xeon D-1540 board for $830. I imagine stepping down to a 1520 would save some dollars, though.

      edit: yeah, the Supermicro MBD-X10SDV-4C-TLN2F-O is only $489, which is pretty reasonable, all things considered.

      Promo code SRVSMMBJAN saves some extra monies.

      • Flatland_Spider
      • 4 years ago

      Per Newegg, Supermicro Xeon D boards are priced at $900 for the board with everything on it and less for other boards. So less then that?

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