Gigabyte S252-ZC0 Storage Server Review

May 10, 2024 0 By Lorena Mejia

The 2U Gigabyte S252-ZC0 server (SHOP NOW) has a side-mounted storage configuration that can support up to 24x 3.5-inch storage bays in a 2U chassis with 12x bays on each side. It’s like a magic act! The drive cages are only accessible when you pull the server out of the enclosure. This one also supports dual 3rd Generation AMD EPYC CPUs!

With support from AMDs 3rd generation 7003 series EPYC Milan processors, this system can provide up to 64x cores per socket for up to 128 physical cores and 256 virtual threads. As a storage server, it is designed for Software Defined Storage (SDS), Big Data, use as a backup Server, for streaming multi-media content, and a host of other applications that require fast read-write speeds and offer scalability.

We do like the simplicity of the naming convention, but the constant revisions are starting to bring us down. That said only one revision on this one so far. That “S” on the S424-ZC0 server also means this system is a “Storage” server. Elegantly simple… 

The front of the chassis is rather non-descript and you might mistake this system for use with some other application rather than storage as none of the storage is even visible on the front of the chassis. To accommodate the storage, the chassis is also quite deep at 880 mm or 88 cm. Consider, an Edge server is at the other extreme with a chassis depth at 500mm or less. Before we see the side storage situation, let’s check out the front of the system.

Right in the center of the chassis there is an ID button, reset button, and power ON button. Just below that HDD status, and system status LEDs, plus two USB 3.0 ports for a crash cart.

Moving around to either side, there are panels on both sides of the system that cover 12x 3.5-inch drive cages, for 24x bays total. 

The 12x 3.5-inch storage bays placed on either side of the chassis support SATA or SAS hot-swappable SSDs and HDDs. There is an onboard 12Gb/s SAS expander board but you will still need a SAS controller add-on card if you want to install SAS drives on the system not to mention if you want access to all 24x drive bays. As expected, drive trays are tool-less for ease of installation but more importantly removal and reinstall, if for some reason you need to replace a drive or two.

Total raw capacity of this system is listed at up to 400TB of storage using SAS or SATA. Various opensource software-defined storage system utilities have been validated by Gigabyte to simplify the deployment process.

Moving around to the back of the system, there is an additional 2.5-inch, 2-bay drive cage capable of supporting SATA, SAS or Gen4 NVMe drive types. That unit you can use to support the OS in a mirrored RAID for redundancy or for additional fast storage if you go with NVMe option.

Redundant 80 PLUS Platinum 1300W PSUs are right beside the drive cage with 3x PCIe slots to either side and an I/O panel in the middle on the bottom portion of the chassis. The I/O panel has a system status LED, Power button with LED, and ID button with LED. After those, a management LAN port, legacy VGA port, and 2 USB 3.0 ports. There are no integrated LAN ports on this system for network connectivity but there are 6x PCIe Gen4 low-profile slots hidden behind those cover plates with 3x to either side. 

That dedicated RJ45 management LAN port provides access to the integrated ASPEED AST2500 baseboard management controller, and in turn, Gigabyte’s Management Console. The Gigabyte Management Console comes pre-loaded on the system and is free of charge, the Gigabyte management console is sufficient for a single server or small cluster. It offers a browser-based graphical user interface and can perform real-time health monitoring and management, plus support for standard IPMI specifications, automatic event recording, and control of MegaRAID adapters for SAS, SATA and NVMe.

The Gigabyte Server Management or GSM, is also free of charge but takes management a step further with added features. Through the GSM Agent, it leverages the Gigabyte Management Console in each server and can be used to control clusters of servers over the Internet. It has a few subprograms which enable more functionality like GSM Server, GSM Command Line interface, GSM Agent, GSM mobile. And a GSM Plugin for use with VMware vCenter. 

Removing the middle cover and the rear cover panel, you can see this platform does not have the standard server layout. True, all the storage is at the font of the chassis but storage occupies more than half the chassis length with CPUs, memory, and PCIe slots all squeezed in at the back of the chassis. The PSUs are in a tilt-up cage, and just beneath that are the CPU sockets—two of them. To either side of the CPU sockets 4x memory module slots for 16x total. And then a bank of three PCIe 4.0 slots on each side of the chassis.

Just behind the storage cages, 6x fans pull fresh air through the case. The fans feature Automatic Fan Speed Control and use sensors throughout the case to ensure the best cooling and power efficiency. 

AMDs 3rd generation EPYC processors provide the compute, support for DDR4 memory, 8-channel memory architecture, plus PCIe Gen4 offering twice the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0. With a thermal design power range of up to 200W, this system can still support CPUs with up to 64 physical cores and 128 virtual threads, each, for up to 128 physical cores and 256 virtual threads if needed. 

With 8-channel memory architecture and only 16 memory module slots total, each memory module gets its very own memory channel exploiting memory speeds of up to 3200MHz. Registered, Load-Reduced, and 3DS RDIMMs and LRDIMMs are supported. At capacity using 256GB modules in all slots, this system will max out at 4TB of memory. 

With those 6x PCIe slots you can install additional RAID controllers, Host Bus Adapters, and High-speed network interface controllers. Each of the low profile PCIe 4.0 Slots offers a x16 slot length coupled with a x16 PCIe Bus connection for maximum bandwidth. And if you want to install some high-performance network controllers or HBA adapters these slots will provide full bandwidth for your data to move about the network.  

And there you have it! The Gigabyte S252-ZC0 storage server offering dual AMD EPYC 7003-series CPUs, up to 4TB of memory and 24x 3.5-inch storage bays for up to 400TB of raw storage. All in only 2U! As a storage platform with a number of options for both RAID, HBAs, plus optional high-speed network connections, it can be configured a number of ways to support your business needs.

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