Gigabyte R282-P91 Server Review

April 15, 2024 0 By Lorena Mejia

What makes the Gigabyte R282-P91 server (SHOP NOW) unique is support for not an Intel Xeon Scalable processor and not an AMD EPYC processor but an Ampere Altra MAX CPU. In fact, there are two of them on the system board each of which supports 96 to 128 physical cores.

This is a cloud-native platform that also supports up to 8TB of memory, with 24x 2.5-inch Gen4 NVMe drive bays up front and more in back. This platform is designed for networking applications like file storage, use as a virtual server, file access via VPN, a shared Internet connection and other applications. 

First, some information about Ampere Altra Max processors installed in this system. This is actually the second-generation from Ampere. The previous generation was just Ampere Altra, without the MAX, and delivered 32 to 80 cores. This processor has a system on a chip ARM architecture with a Reduced Instruction Set Computer architecture or RISC, if you like acronyms. ARM means Advanced RISC Machine. Other more familiar processors x86 processors have a CISK or Complex Instruction Set Computer architecture. RISC architecture offers a reduced instruction set but still delivers great performance with less power.

Those CISK architecture CPUs have prioritized performance and throughput over power consumption and in general produce more heat too. As a general statement ARM CPUs consume significantly less power and as a result produce less heat too, than what Ampere is calling a legacy X86 ecosystem. Meaning old and outdated? As a result of less power consumed and less heat generated, they offer a quick ROI with savings on power and cooling. They still offer performance, scalability and sustainability. In fact, x86 processors, while very popular for servers, are not used as widely in phones and laptops which utilize ARM-based designs. Who knew? Well some of you geeks probably did…

The 2nd generation Ampere Altra Max CPU features a 7 Nanometer architecture with 1MB L2 Cache per core, 8-memory channel architecture and PCIe 4.0 with 128 lanes per CPU. With dual processors, there are 192 PCIe lanes available. PCIe lanes can also be bifurcated to x4. These are single-threaded cores so no hyper-threading technology or CPU core virtual core mirroring. The cores operate at a consistent and predictable frequency of up to 3.0 GHz, with memory speeds of up to 3200MT/s supported.

Ampere has already released another CPU that delivers 136 to 192 cores, has twice the L2 Cache per core at 2MB, 8-memory channel architecture with DDR5 supported and 128 lanes of PCIe 5.0 with wattages ranging from 200W to 350W, which is definitely in line with what is consumed by Intel and AMD CPUs. That said, not sure where we are going with this power savings thing. That 3rd gen CPU is not supported on this platform. 

The Gigabyte R282-P91 server has 24x storage bays up front with support for Gen 4 NVMe storage devices. There are 4x more storage bays in back but we will get to that in a minute. The left server ear has several LEDs and buttons. Starting at the top. A reset button, power ON button with LED, hard drive status LED, with LAN 1 LED on the left and LAN 2 LED on the right. Above that, a System Status LED and then an ID button with LED.

The right server ear is outfitted with dual USB 3.0 ports. It features a pretty typical Gigabyte design.

The back of the Gigabyte R282-P91 server has dual redundant 1600W 80 PLUS Platinum PSUs to either side, each with a drive cage above that supports 2.5-inch SATA drive formats.

Right next to each of the PSUs is a mezzanine card slot, which in this case both are disabled and appear to be used to support the upfront NVMe drives with additional PCIe connections. In the middle there is a mini-display port, 2x USB 3.0 ports, 2x Gb Ethernet LAN ports and a server management LAN port. PCIe slots above.

That RJ45 LAN port connects to the integrated ASPEED AST2600 baseboard management controller just like on other Gigabyte systems. This system is also compatible with Gigabytes integrated Management Console for managing a single server.

The Gigabyte Management Console has the AMI MegaRAC SP-X web interface and tracks server Health, offers remote Troubleshooting, provides resource monitoring, and helps reduce server downtime given you can access the system from anywhere. It can also easily integrate with other 3rd-party management applications for ease of use. For multiple servers, there’s the Gigabyte Server Management (GSM) software. Compatible with IPMI 2.0 and Redfish. GSM leverages the Gigabyte management Console through the Gigabyte GSM Agent, which is installed on every server. There is also GSM mobile for and a plugin compatible with VMware VCenter. All at our favorite price for goods and services…FREE! 

Standard Window’s-based Operating Systems do not support ARM architecture at this time and are not supported on this platform. That said, there are quite a few Linux-based operating systems to choose from.

Inside, the case it has a standard layout with drives up front, then 4x fans, CPUs and memory module slots then the power supplies to either side with PCIe risers in the middle. There are several connectors for the NVMe drives up front, which are scattered around the motherboard. The reason those OCP card slots are unavailable is because 8x more storage connectors are provided by the circuit boards in those OCP slots with 4x slots per card. A PCIe Gen4 x4 slot between the risers is for an NVMe M.2 drive. The M.2 drive supports up to 4TB of memory and can be used to boot the system or for additional super-fast storage. 

Each of the processors supported on the Gigabyte R282-P91 server support either 96, 112, or 128 cores for up to 256 physical cores with both sockets outfitted with 128 core CPUs. This system is outfitted with dual 128 core Ampere Altra Max 64-Bit M128-30 CPUs, with a base frequency of 2.8GHz and a maximum boost frequency of 3.0 and TDP of 250W.

As mentioned before, these processors provide consistent, reliable power. Both processors support 16 memory modules each for 32x slots total and a maximum memory capacity of up to 8TB. Memory supported includes Registered and Load-reduced ECC memory modules with a capacity of 256GBs and a memory speed of up to 3200MHz.

With 2x risers in back, there are 4x full-height, half-length PCIe gen4 x16 slots, with 2x in each riser. I will mention that one of the slots in each riser is disabled on those too. As a networking server, these slots are primarily used for additional Network Interface Controllers, and there are several to choose from. In this case as the OCP mezzanine card slots are not an option, those 4x x16 PCIe slots supported in the 2x risers will provide connections for PCIe-based NICs.

Installed in one of the risers for this build is an Intel X710 DA2 CNA with dual 10GBE SFP+ ports. Although you can certainly go with various other connection speeds and link options including single or dual port 200GbE QSFP and QSFP 56 respectively. There is also a Broadcom MegaRAID 9560-16i controller suitable for 32 NVMe Gen4 devices or up to 240 SAS/SATA per controller. It offers RAID support for critical high-bandwidth applications with RAID levels of 0, 00, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, and 60. That’s right off their data sheet… It’s a Tri-mode controller so it supports SAS, SATA or NVMe in any bay.

For Data Center and cloud deployments this system offers fairly dense storage at 2U along with reduced power and cooling costs for a lower total cost of ownership. With up to 28 drive bays and M.2 supporting the OS it’s also a great addition to an on-site network for additional quick access hot storage.  

For more information on this or other systems, contact IT Creations! We have many systems and components in stock at our Los Angeles warehouse and we can get them to you whenever you need!