Gigabyte W480 VISION D motherboard - a reliable base for workstations with Intel Xeon W-1200 / ServerNews

Gigabyte W480 VISION D motherboard – a reliable base for workstations with Intel Xeon W-1200 / ServerNews

Gigabyte W480 VISION D is a motherboard for a productive, reliable and inexpensive workstation based on the latest Intel Xeon W-1200 CPUs. A wide range of interfaces makes it possible not only to equip it with all the necessary components, but also makes it easy to update them in the future

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Along with the 10th generation Intel Core Comet Lake-S, the company introduced the Xeon W-1200 series of processors for entry-level workstations. Both series, as before, have a common base platform, but differ in detail. The fundamental difference between Xeon-W and Core is the support of DDR4-2933 RAM with ECC error correction and up to 128 GB. Ordinary, even powerful gaming systems do not need it, but for calculations and simulations, that is, typical workstation loads, its support is critical.

Thus, it is the Intel Xeon W-1200 that allows you to assemble a relatively inexpensive machine for professional tasks. In addition, the new generation has more cores with a higher frequency, which also has a positive effect on performance in workloads.

A separate W-series chipset is designed for Intel Xeon, and all the platform features are presented in the older version of W480. It is on it that the ATX Gigabyte W480 VISION D form factor motherboard is built, also the oldest (and the most complete) in the company’s family of motherboards for workstations. It supports the installation of “regular” processors of the 10th generation Intel Core, Pentium and Celeron, if someone suddenly needs this configuration without ECC, but, for example, with XMP profiles.

A characteristic feature of the novelty is its black and white design, but this is not a designer refinement in its purest form. White radiator shields cover the processor power subsystem, the chipset and M.2 M-key slots of which there are three at once: two 2280/22110 SATA + PCIe x4 / x2 and one 2260/2280/22110 PCIe x4 / x2. Intel RST will enable RAID0 / 1/5/10, and Optane support will speed up the storage subsystem, which also includes six SATA3 ports. By the way, a RAID array, if desired, can be assembled from M.2 drives, having at the same time higher speed and increased reliability.

Four PCIe slots are available for connecting cards. Three sizes x16, which account for 16, 8 and 4 physical lines, respectively, and one PCIe x1. In total, the system provides 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes. Of these, 16 lines are provided by the CPU – they can be sent to the first x16 slot or distributed in half (x8) between the first two slots. The remaining lines are provided by the chipset; they are divided between the remaining slots and M.2. It is curious that the wiring is made taking into account the PCIe 4.0 standard. Yes, now the platform only supports PCIe 3.0, but from compliance with more stringent than necessary requirements for signal integrity, it certainly will not be worse.

The diversity of x16 slots on the board allows you to install up to three typical dual-slot expansion cards, provided that the chassis has an upper location for the power supply. However, again, a typical set of two cards (with a bridge if necessary) – for example, for AMD CrossFire – does not impose such a limitation. However, one thing to keep in mind is that the board offers two Type-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support, which also require PCIe lanes, and with the ability to connect a chain of 6 devices (Daisy-Chain) through one port, which greatly simplifies cable management when connecting multiple monitors, docks and drives.

These ports can display DisplayPort / Thunderbolt video on compatible monitors, they support super resolution 5120 × 2880 @ 60 Hz 24bpp and DisplayPort 1.4, HDCP 2.3 and HDR standards. Moreover, there is also a DisplayPort 1.4 input, which allows you to pick up output from an external card, “drive” it into Thunderbolt and transfer it further down the chain, if necessary. However, for the graphics integrated into the processor, there is also a regular HDMI 1.4 port (HDCP 2.3) with support for resolutions up to 4096 × 2160 @ 30 Hz. And Type-C ports can work in regular USB 3.2 Gen2 mode.

The rear panel also has two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, two USB 2.0 Type-A and four USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, two of which have the DAC-UP function, that is, they have independent power lines, which reduces interference when connecting, for example, USB audio devices. The onboard audio subsystem is represented by the Realtek ALC1220-VB HD codec with support for DTS: X Ultra and 7.1 sound – five 3.5 mm connectors and an optical S / PDIF are displayed on the rear panel. The pads on the board allow you to additionally output one USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C, two USB 3.2 Gen1 and four USB 2.0.

To increase reliability and usability, there are several components on the board. Firstly, there is a digital indicator of POST codes. Secondly, there is a connector for the TPM module. Thirdly, there are pads for connecting external temperature sensors. For connecting coolers, there are 8 connectors at once, three of which are oriented to the SJO. Smart Fan 5 software will help to set up quiet but effective cooling. In addition, the proprietary QFLASH technology for updating BIOS / UEFI directly from a USB flash drive and without installing a CPU, RAM and GPU has not gone away. They didn’t forget about the beauty either – there are four connectors for RGB tapes on the board, including addressable ones.

The network subsystem received a very remarkable upgrade. 2.5GbE was added to the usual 1GbE port. This is actually a very good compromise between the expensive 10GbE connection and the massive 1GbE. The new standard gives a speed increase, but at the same time it is compatible with the existing cable infrastructure based on Cat.5e. If you don’t like the cable, there is an on-board Wi-Fi 6 module (802.11ax 2 × 2) with a “clean” speed of 2.4 Gb / s (the real one will be slightly less) – a compact antenna with a magnetic mount is included. However, the presence of Wi-Fi is optional. In new Intel platforms, a separate M.2 CNVi-module is used (in this case it is the lower slot on the board), which allows you to install it at any time or replace it with a newer one.

One of the first Gigabyte W480 VISION D boards in Russia turned out to be the company ARBYTE, which has been developing and supplying professional IT solutions for almost 30 years: servers, storage systems, HPC systems and, in fact, graphics and workstations. The company prepared a test assembly based on this board and Intel Xeon W-1290 processor (10C / 20T, 3.2 / 5.2 GHz, L3 20 MB, UHD P620, TDP 80 W), supplemented with 64 GB DDR4-2666 ECC memory (4 × Kingston KSM26ED8 / 16ME) and Samsung 970 EVO + SSDs, as well as alternately NVIDIA RTX 2070 and Quadro P2200 cards.

In the gallery above, the results of some render benchmarks are given separately, as there are enough typical loads for graphstations, but the main test packages for a comprehensive assessment of system performance are the classic SPECworkstation 3 and SPECviewperf 13. For the first, the creation of two threads per core was indicated, and the second left V -Sync (more precisely, it was not forcibly disabled). In the settings of Windows 10 Pro (build 2004), the power policy was set to maximum performance.

SPECviewperf 13.0.0
Model CPU GPU RAM 3dsmax-06 catia-05 creo-02 energy-02 maya-05 medical-02 showcase-02 snx-03 sw-04
Gigabyte W480 VISION D Xeon W-1290 Quadro RTX 4000 64 202.60 295.82 283.20 38.64 298.28 105.90 111.93 344.72 192.72
Gigabyte W480 VISION D Xeon W-1290 GeForce RTX 2070 64 209.65 115.96 195.25 22.79 293.94 57.73 126.38 16.98 92.06
Gigabyte W480 VISION D Xeon W-1290 Quadro P2200 64 124.84 199.10 166.02 21.16 174.24 64.93 59.11 194.74 160.70
LENOVO ThinkStation P520 Xeon W-2265 Quadro RTX 4000 64 197.47 281.63 262.25 38,99 289.66 108,20 111.58 347.28 163.80
HP HP Z4 G4 Workstation Xeon W-2155 Quadro P6000 32 164.48 322.80 189.10 16.03 299.59 48.01 133.50 485.33 182.21
Dell Inc. Precision 5820 Tower Xeon W-2155 Quadro P2000 32 101.02 159.64 123.64 7.45 145.37 24.48 45.01 188.78 127.72

For a small comparison, several systems from other manufacturers were selected on the older Intel Xeon processor W-2155 (10C / 20T, 3.3 / 4.5 GHz, L3 13.75 MB, TDP 140 W), which formally belongs to another class (just look at the three-fold difference in price with W-1290), but at least close in the number of cores / threads and also used in workstations. In addition, the list included cars with NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000, but on two noticeably different CPUs: Intel Xeon W-2265 (12C / 24T, 3.5 / 4.8 GHz, L3 19.25 MB, TDP 165 W) and Xeon E-2288G (12C / 24T, 3.5 / 4.8 GHz, L3 16 MB, TDP 95 W). The latter is interesting because with a formally higher CPU rating and a similar configuration of other components, the system based on it is less productive than the ARBYTE assembly.

SPECworkstation 3
Model CPU GPU RAM M + E Prod dev Finance Life sci Energy Gen ops CPU GPU GPU Comp
Gigabyte W480 VISION D Xeon W-1290 Quadro RTX 4000 64 3.05 2.86 2.60 2,55 1,67 2.25 1.72 3.79 3.87
Gigabyte W480 VISION D Xeon W-1290 GeForce RTX 2070 64 3.03 2,36 2.59 2.24 1,52 2.20 1.71 1.95 4.19
Gigabyte W480 VISION D Xeon W-1290 Quadro P2200 64 2.73 2.60 2,56 2,31 1,53 2.24 1.73 2,31 1.71
FUJITSU CELSIUS W580 Xeon E-2288G Quadro RTX 4000 64 2,57 3.32 2.28 2,37 2.23 2,56 2.19 3.71 3.70
Dell Inc. Precision 5820 Tower Xeon W-2155 Quadro P6000 32 2.45 2.67 2,36 2.05 1.41 2.23 1.73 3.27 3.52
Dell Inc. Precision 5820 Tower Xeon W-2155 Pro WX 9100 32 2.20 2.46 2.41 1.97 1.46 2.23 1.72 2,36 2.23

In general, complex SPEC tests show not only a certain increase in CPU performance from generation to generation, which even the manufacturer estimates in the range from 5% to 15% depending on the type of load, but, and more importantly, the fact that the motherboard the board in no way limits the rest of the components. So the Gigabyte W480 VISION D is really a good basis for a typical “workhorse”, and at the same time it is inexpensive.

The new Gigabyte W480 VISION series, in addition to the W480 VISION D discussed here, includes two more models: the W480M VISION W and W480 VISION W. The first differs in the Micro-ATX form factor, and the second due to the rejection of Thunderbolt 3 has an additional PCIe x16 slot . However, all three are based on the same design, so the key features – ECC memory support, compatibility with the latest Intel Xeon W-1200, wide expansion options and so on – all W480 VISION boards have it.