Stuff a terabyte of RAM in Gigabyte’s MZ31-AR0 Epyc motherboard

Gigabyte's latest motherboard is a little bit outside the scope of what we usually cover here at TR, but we figure that it deserves a look as it's the first motherboard we've seen for AMD's Epyc server processors. If you've ever wondered what a modern single-socket motherboard with sixteen memory slots looks like, have a gander at Gigabyte's MZ31-AR0.

This blue beauty is a Socket SP3 motherboard in an E-ATX form factor. It supports Epyc 7000-series processors with up to 32 cores and TDP ratings of up to 180 watts. Even though the MZ31-AR0 is a single-socket motherboard, it has two EPS 12V CPU power connectors. Some of that power will likely go toward driving the aforementioned sixteen DIMM slots. You can install any kind of memory in the MZ31-AR0 as long as it's registered DDR4. To hit that magical 1 TB number though, you'll need LRDIMMs or NVDIMMs. The maximum supported speed is DDR4-2667, but transfer rates can drop as low as 1866 MT/s when the DIMM slots are fully populated.

There's no traditional onboard chipset, because most of the connectivity comes directly from the AMD CPU. Epyc chips don't include an IGP, so the MZ31-AR0's Aspeed AST2500 management processor provides some basic video out capabilities. Alternatively, you could install a video card… or five. The board has seven PCIe 3.0 slots, five of which are x16 slots, while the other two are offered in an x8 configuration. Perhaps more notably, the electrical configuration matches the physical configuration for every PCIe slot save for one. There's also a PCIe x4 M.2 socket available, as well as four SlimSAS connectors that can be broken out into sixteen SATA 6 Gbps ports.

Over on the back panel, Gigabyte offers up a pair of SFP+ connectors for 10-Gigabit Ethernet, both powered by a Broadcom BCM57810S chip. There's also a regular old RJ-45 jack for the Aspeed chip's management connectivity. Two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 connections along with legacy VGA and serial ports all round out the back panel I/O. Gigabyte hasn't announced a release date or pricing for the MZ31-AR0. Don't expect it to be cheap, though.

Comments closed
    • cybot_x1024
    • 2 years ago

    i wonder how a build around this would compare to a dell Poweredge C6100 with 8X E5506 processors and 128GB of ram in terms of cost for a homelab.

    The fans alone on the C6100 make this a worth consideration, now that I’m fairly certain this will get quiet coolers too.

    • Growler
    • 2 years ago

    [url=http://www.computerworld.com/article/2534312/operating-systems/the–640k–quote-won-t-go-away—-but-did-gates-really-say-it-.html<]"640GB ought to be enough for anyone."[/url<]

    • The Egg
    • 2 years ago

    Do you have to supply your own 2032 battery for the BIOS too? Cheapskates.

      • willmore
      • 2 years ago

      LOL. Well spotted!

    • CScottG
    • 2 years ago

    BO-ING!

    ..OK, so maybe my -um, “tastes”, are a bit deviant.

    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    I really think Gigabyte needs to sell these under the Aorus brand. Put the muscle bird on that thing!

    /s

    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    Seeing as there’s no chipset to worry about, I’m just wondering: did AMD actually design everything inside the chip? Or did some third party (Asmedia?) give them a hand? Of course this could go both ways: a single chip simplifies validation and simply looks cool, but having an issue with, say, a USB controller can potentially bring the entire house down. I dunno. I’m just thinking aloud here.

      • just brew it!
      • 2 years ago

      Most people using this thing probably aren’t even going to use the USB ports, beyond hooking up a keyboard/mouse during initial setup. This thing is designed to run headless in a rackmount enclosure in a datacenter, probably with a truckload of storage attached to it.

    • ozzuneoj
    • 2 years ago

    Hard to imagine 15 years from now when things like this are completely obsolete and are being sold in scrap lots on eBay for their value in metals, kind of like how old Netburst based server parts are basically worthless now and yet had similarly outrageous specs at the time.

    “Yeah, it supports 1TB of RAM, but the CPUs only have 32 cores and have 180W TDP… you’d be better off using a smart watch with 1TB\sec 802.bazillion wifi and a 128 core ARM chip that runs off the power generated by your heartbeat when you work out.”

      • RAGEPRO
      • 2 years ago

      I hope that’s the case. Given that we’ve slammed into the heat wall and Moore’s Law is kind of falling apart, I’m not so sure things will go that way.

        • jensend
        • 2 years ago

        Transistor density still has some room to go up, but performance and power benefits of process shrinks are disappearing while cost benefits stopped at 28nm.

        There are plenty of interesting design ideas which in the past have been commercially infeasible because simpler conventional processors had a head start and could scale down quickly. As scaling slows down it makes more sense to invest in those. In the next decade I think we’re certain to see [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asynchronous_circuit<]clockless processors[/url<] go from research implementations to real world applications. Ideas which thus far have only seen blue-sky academic research, especially [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reversible_computing<]reversible computing[/url<], will see heavy industry research. (If transistor density scales well beyond present roadmaps, reversible computing may before long be the only way to use those transistors, because power density using normal irreversible gates would be like a rocket nozzle and thus impossible to cool well enough.) Still plenty of room for improvement, but ingenuity will have to pick up where physics left off.

      • ronch
      • 2 years ago

      Well, 15 years is an eternity in computer world.

    • Coran Fixx
    • 2 years ago

    Is the tractor beam module sold separately (That’s no moon)?

      • ronch
      • 2 years ago

      The technology is actually ready but there’s just no demand.

    • ImSpartacus
    • 2 years ago

    Came from the [url=https://www.reddit.com/r/hardware/comments/6ivp6r/new_epyc_motherboard_single_socket_up_to_1_tb_of/<]r/hardware thread[/url<] and saw "single socket" & "1 TB of RAM" and went "yeah, sure, there's a catch..." No catch, I forgot that 64GB LRDIMMs exist and E-ATX apparently has plenty of room for 16 DIMM slots. One fucking terabyte of goddamn RAM. I can't even

      • willmore
      • 2 years ago

      I can’t even, either, but that’s because of the price. 😉 Sure wish I could.

    • Captain Ned
    • 2 years ago

    A few quick Googles sets a price for 64GB LR/NV DIMM registered sticks at around $800/stick. Don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t have $12,800 lying around just to buy RAM.

      • chuckula
      • 2 years ago

      That’s nothing, you can get it for $15,600 with 128GB DIMMs (saves on slots!)

      [url<]http://www.memory4less.com/hynix-128gb-ddr4-pc19200-hmabagl7m4r4n-ul[/url<]

      • The Egg
      • 2 years ago

      I haven’t checked prices, but having a large number of memory slots means that you can hit the same capacity by using lower-density RAM modules in a higher quantity, potentially saving money (the high-density modules usually have a premium).

    • albundy
    • 2 years ago

    are those SAS ports, or are you just happy to see me?

      • willmore
      • 2 years ago

      Is that a 10 gigabit NIC in your pocket?

    • curtisb
    • 2 years ago

    The socket’s so big it looks like a 2.5″ drive attached directly to the motherboard.

      • Kougar
      • 2 years ago

      Is that a CPU in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

      • Chrispy_
      • 2 years ago

      Coming soon, SATA3 processors.

    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    “There’s no traditional onboard chipset, because most of the connectivity comes directly from the AMD CPU.”

    I find this nothing short of phenomenal. A true epic in the making.

    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    AGP slot or go home.

      • jackbomb
      • 2 years ago

      I’m extremely disappointed that AMD didn’t even think of us Socket 939 users when they designed Epyc and Threadripper.

    • cygnus1
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<] Alternatively, you could install a video card... or five. [/quote<] Good luck with that. Given where the DIMM slots are at, it looks like 4 of those 5 x16 slots could be blocked by RAM modules.

      • DPete27
      • 2 years ago

      mITX graphics cards would fit. 😉

      • willyolioleo
      • 2 years ago

      Riser cables.

        • tay
        • 2 years ago

        Don’t you mean Ryzer cables?

      • tay
      • 2 years ago

      It’s weird that there’s only 1 x4 m.2 slot. You’d think they would put in a handful at least!

        • jihadjoe
        • 2 years ago

        M.2 isn’t really that good for servers. It’s limited to what can fit on a small strip of PCB, and you’ll quickly run out of space on the motherboard trying to put in a lot of storage using M.2.

        They probably put an M.2 slot there in case you want to use it as a boot drive, but if you want a lot of fast NVMe storage in a server U.2 is much better.

        • willmore
        • 2 years ago

        Why have little 4x PCI-E storage when you can plop in 16x PCI-E storage? Amateurs!

    • Mr Bill
    • 2 years ago

    I’m guessing the lack of heatsinks on the VRM’s are because this board is expected to be housed in a server (e.g. howling windtunnel) case?

      • dodozoid
      • 2 years ago

      Or because VRM heatsinks on MBs exist purely for marketing purposes…

      edit: spelling

        • Sigma0004
        • 2 years ago

        The board will probably be one of those will be price available upon request and one of the options they will offer will slimline water cooling for the VRMs and possibly the 10G NICs.

        • Waco
        • 2 years ago

        If you care about longevity under load, VRM heatsinks are a must unless the board is so monstrously overbuilt in the power section to not need it.

          • DrDominodog51
          • 2 years ago

          Most consumer motherboards go overpowered on VRM design anyway (except on the low end budget boards).

          On this particular board, I’m sure the power plane is large enough that it doesn’t matter if there is a heatsink on it or not.

          Also, the VRM on this board is probably pretty efficient. Generally, low efficiency VRMs don’t use the single package design like this motherboard has.

          • Kougar
          • 2 years ago

          Most of the VRM assembly on consumer boards is purely for marketing and product differentiation. If you look most of these supposed “heatsinks” are just finless blocks of metal with plastic coverings designed for the single purpose of aesthetics, not cooling. Point being some of them probably hurt more than help with actual cooling.

          For servers which run CPUs at stock it won’t matter. The power draw is a known quantity and won’t be exceeded 2-3x by overclockers, so they don’t have to build in four times the original load design.

            • Waco
            • 2 years ago

            Um, no.

            I’ve dealt with many “great” designs with crap VRM engineering that die early.

            Push your unrelated and unsubstantiated anecdotes elsewhere. VRM design and cooling are paramount in long living systems for HPC.

          • just brew it!
          • 2 years ago

          Well, I see six phases there for the CPU, and server motherboards generally don’t support overclocking, so they shouldn’t be called on to deliver more than the rated 180W for any significant length of time. As long as the airflow is reasonable it should be OK.

          My old Asus M3A78-CM doesn’t have VRM heatsinks. It was my primary desktop for several years (and ran Folding@home on a hex-core Phenom II 1090T for much of that time), and is now pulling file server duty. So it hasn’t exactly been treated gently (Folding@home is pretty abusive), and has held up just fine.

        • albundy
        • 2 years ago

        its marketing. my gigabyte 870a-ud3 board back in the phenom 2 days had no heatsinks on any of the VRMs, and overclocking was never an issue.

        • stdRaichu
        • 2 years ago

        Completely agree that the VRM heatsinks are useless for their supposed purpose, but you need [i<]something[/i<] to print the go-fasta stripes on to ensure properly overclockable electrons.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 2 years ago

    “The mind boggles.”

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