Gigabyte G292-Z22 GPU Server ReviewDecember 28, 2021
We have another system from Gigabyte, the Gigabyte G292-Z22 GPU server (SHOP HERE). It supports AMD’s 2nd or 3rd generation AMD EPYC processors with up to 64 physical cores and 128 virtual threads. This 2U, single-socket platform is designed for high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, AI training, AI inference, scientific analysis, virtual desktop infrastructure, and you can install up to 8x double-wide GPUs.
First off, there are 7 of these G292 platforms. Within this group there are single and dual processor systems. All support AMD EPYC processors except for one anomaly, the G292-280. That one can be outfitted only with 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors.
Between the systems there are differences: motherboards of course, number of processors, supported memory, and the PCIe generation supported, either PCIe 3.0 or 4.0 on the PCIe and storage bus. All of these platforms look remarkably similar, even on the manufacturer page it was hard to tell the difference between some just based off the specifications. Dual-socket systems include the G292-Z40, G292-Z42, G292-Z44, and the Intel Xeon-based system, the G292-280.
To further confuse the issue, there are two revisions for most of these systems including those dual-socket systems. Revision 100 and a revision A00 (REV.100 supports 2nd Gen AMD EPYC (ROME) & REV.A00 supports 3rd Gen AMD EPYC (MILAN). Initially, we thought “Oh, 100 is greater than A00 so that must be the latest update.” Nope. It’s the A00 for the latest update. For clarity we will only be looking at the latest revision A00. The remaining single socket systems in this category include the G292-Z20, our review system today the Gigabyte G292-Z22 GPU Server, and lastly the G292-Z24. So, Z20, Z22, and Z24. All single socket AMD based platforms feature the MZ22-G20 motherboard, which has no integrated chipset because of the AMD EPYC system-on-a chip design.
You may be asking, what are the differences between these systems? All three support Gen 3 AMD EPYC CPUs with Rev. A00, but are compatible with the 2nd generation EPYCs too, and that would be the OG Rev.100. Our system is the only one that has a mixed PCIe bus supporting PCIe Gen 3.0 on the GPUs and PCIe Gen 4.0 for add-on cards. So basically, we have the one that will probably hit end of life first. Fear not! We can get all the other chassis too! All support M.2 as well.
We’ll be honest, it does look pretty much like the last one we did a while back, the G291-Z20, which supports Gen 1 AMD EPYC processors. It seems like Gigabyte used the same images on the product page, and photoshopped them with a slight color change for the two storage bays on the far right. They wouldn’t do that though…would they?
The Gigabyte G292-Z22 GPU Server has a symmetrical organization on the outside with 8x 2.5-inch storage bays down the middle and a large fan module to either side next to the handles, just like the G291-Z20. However, the storage bays on the right with the orange tabs will accept two hot-swappable NVMe Gen 3.0 U.2 drives. The other 6x bays still support hot swappable SATA drives or SAS, but you will need a discrete HD/RAID controller for SAS.
A control panel on the left server ear features a power ON button, plus a few LEDs to indicate health status of the LAN ports 1 and 2, HDD status, and a button to activate system identification on the back of the system.
Turning to the back, there are two more gigantic fans to either side to pull heated air out of the chassis. Between those fans, are 2x 2200W 80 PLUS Platinum PSUs in a 2+0 configuration. It’s important to note that these PSUs are not redundant. Because of this, Gigabyte has incorporated a feature called Cold Redundancy, which will place one PSU in standby mode if total load falls below 40%.
Just above the PSUs, there’s a VGA port, dedicated Gb Ethernet management LAN port, 2x 10Gb Ethernet SPF+ LAN ports and 2x USB 3.0 ports with 2x low profile half-length PCIe Gen 4.0 ports above. Popping the cover off this system requires the removal of a few screws.
That 1Gb LAN port is IPMI 2.0 compatible, and provides access to the ASPEED AST2500 remote management controller on the system board. These management applications are free of charge from Gigabyte and provide general health monitoring, troubleshooting, inventory, and resource utilization monitoring to help reduce server downtime.
There are two Gigabyte applications to manage the system. On a side note, “FREE” is our favorite price for both goods and services! These applications include the Gigabyte Management Console for a single server implementation and the Gigabyte Server Management (GSM) for multiple server management. Both have an HTML 5.0 user interface and support restful API and Redfish so you can talk to other 3rd party management applications.
Inside, the symmetrical layout continues with the motherboard down the center, flanked by PCIe 3.0 riser cages for the GPUs with a 2×2 stacked setup on each side. There are 8x fans total. Two large fans to either side of the hard drives pushing cool air over the front GPU cages, which vent air towards the middle of the chassis. The GPU-scented air mixes in with the fresh air pushed over the motherboard by the other two fans staggered behind the hybrid storage backplane. Another set of fans halfway down the chassis pulls in air from perforated panels on either side of the metal case, which is then sucked out the back by the two fans on the back of the case. It’s an elegant design.
Looking at the motherboard, there are 2x PCIe 3.0 x4 slots at the front with one supporting a x4 slot and the other a x2 slot. These support SATA or NVMe M.2 drives that can be used to boot the system, preserving your upfront storage. The power management board is located underneath the motherboard.
The major difference between the G291-Z20 and the G292-Z22 comes down to the PCIe BUS. A PCIe Gen 3 Bus for the GPU expansion slots is found on the G291-Z20, while the G292-Z22 has a PCIe 4.0 Bus for the GPUs. Just to drive it home, revision A00 adds support of a 3rd generation AMD processor, while rev. 100 supports a second Gen AMD EPYC CPU. The numbers say it all—2x times the performance per socket, including I/O bandwidth and 4X times more floating-point calculations per socket! Those are clearly the numbers using the Gen 3 EPYCs.
The G292-Z20 and the G292-Z22 share the same manual. We’re not sure why they left out the G292-Z24. We were having a hard time decerning the difference between the Z20 and Z24, but let’s not get into that. Strangely enough, the Z20 version is the more advanced version with the Gen 4 PCIe Bus for all expansion slots, while the Z22, with a higher number supports a mixed PCIe 4.0 and 3.0 bus with the GPUs occupying the 3.0 bus. We thought it was the other way around given 22 is greater than 20, but that’s not the case.
Right in the middle of the board is the 3rd generation AMD EPYC (MILAN) CPU supporting up to 64 cores and 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes. You could use a 2nd Gen EPYC, but why bother? Either way the drivers and updated BIOS you can download for this system on a chip CPU is the same for both 2nd and 3rd Gen EPYCs! So that makes it easy. To either side of the CPU are 4x memory module slots for a total of 8 active slots, each of which operates in one of the 8x memory channels for maximum memory bandwidth.
We had a hard time nailing down exactly what cards are supported, but definitely the Nvidia Quadro RTX 6000 and 8000 with passive cooling, and the Tesla T4. It’s also qualified with AMD’s Radeon Instinct MI50 32GB Accelerator. Without getting specific, this system can also be loaded with Qualcomm ASIC accelerators, and Xilink? They produce FPGA Accelerators for data center applications, and not a whole lot specific GPUs or FPGAs are listed. As the PCIe BUS on this system is Gen 3.0 and not 4.0, there’s no need for anything more. For all of those cards, including the T4, it lists a max of 8x cards.
Lastly, we have the 2x PCIe Gen 4.0 low-profile, half height slots on the back of the system. Same for the Gigabyte G292-Z22 GPU Server and the Z20 for dual high-performance I/O cards or for control of the optional SAS drives with a discrete controller.
The thing about these reviews is that when a new processor is released, it will support a certain set of features. Usually, that same processor will get an update from the manufacturer opening additional pathways on the circuitry that were already there, but just lying dormant. The platform manufacturers work with the CPU foundries to push out the “new” version, and the new abilities. Hence the original Rev.100 supporting 2nd Gen EPYCs, which was updated to the Rev.A00 supporting 3rd Gen EPYCs.