Gigabyte Details Dual-Socket Ampere Motherboard: Up to 256 Cores Per Box

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

Gigabyte on Thursday introduced three new products powered by Ampere's Altra and Altra Max processors. First up, the company launched one of the industry's first 2U motherboards, which packs up to 256 Arm cores using two Ampere Altra Max processors. In addition, the company now offers an Ampere Altra/Altra Max-based machine equipped with Nvidia A100 compute GPUs, as well as two Nvidia BlueField-2 DPUs, plus an Ampere-powered server featuring four Nvidia A100 compute GPUs. 

Among the key hardware challenges that operators of hyperscale datacenters face are maximization of compute capabilities per square meter and maximization of storage capacity per square meter. Gigabyte's MP72-HB0 dual-socket motherboard aims to solve the first challenge by supporting two Ampere's Altra (80 cores) or Altra Max (128 cores, 250W) processors, to therefore offer up to 256 cores per box (or per node), which seems to be a record number. You can of course pack four 1U 64-core nodes into a 4U box, but they will still work like four nodes.

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

Gigabyte's MP72-HB0 E-ATX motherboard has 16 slots for DDR4 memory, three PCIe 4.0 x16 slots, one PCIe 4.0 x8 slot, and one M.2 slot. Furthermore, it has two 10GbE ports, two slimline ports for NVMe drives, one slimline port for SATA drives and two SATA ports. Like other server boards, this one has Aspeed's AST2600 BMC, with a dedicated GbE port for management. Meanwhile, given the fact that this is an E-ATX motherboard, it can fit into a standard tower case.

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

Also, Gigabyte introduced its G242-P36 server, powered by one Ampere Altra/Altra Max CPU with up to 128 cores, which can be equipped with two Nvidia A100 compute GPUs cards as well as two Nvidia BlueField-2 DPUs. The machine is aimed mostly at cloud AI and HPC applications, but it could also be used by software developers who plan to build applications for Nvidia's upcoming HPC platforms powered by its Grace CPUs, Hopper compute GPUs, and BlueField DPUs. 

Meanwhile, for those who need only compute GPUs, Gigabyte offers its G242-P35 machine, with up to four dual-slot Nvidia A100 cards. Both systems support Arm's CCIX technology for more efficient heterogenous computing, but we doubt there are many add-in boards supporting CCIX. 

In addition to four PCIe 4.0 x16 cards (two A100 GPUs and two BlueField-2 DPUs or four A100 GPUs), Gigabyte's G242-P35 and G242-P36 machines can house two low-profile PCIe 4.0 x8 cards, four U.2 PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSDs, and two M.2 drives. The servers come with two GbE ports as well as Aspeed's AST2500 BMC with a dedicated management GbE port. 

In addition to 2-way and 4-way Nvidia A100-accelerated Ampere-powered servers, Gigabyte also has an Ampere-based HPC system with eight Nvidia A100 80GB SXM4 compute GPUs introduced in May

As far as operating systems are concerned, Gigabyte's Ampere-based machines support operating systems from Red Hat, SUSE, Ubuntu, Fedora, Oracle, and Debian. 

All the new products from Gigabyte are already listed by the company, but we have no idea when Gigabyte plans to start sales. While we may speculate that the motherboard and two servers will hit the market (or rather targeted clients) shortly, we have absolutely no idea how much these devices actually cost.


Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.