GIGABYTE MD70-HB0 (Intel C612) Server Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE MD70-HB0 (Intel C612) Server Motherboard Review

The second GIGABYTE dual CPU Haswell-EP server motherboard enters the lab. Let's find out if it's just another server board, or a diamond in the rough.

@William_Harmon_
Published Thu, Feb 19 2015 9:12 AM CST   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction

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The second GIGABYTE server motherboard has entered our lab, and this motherboard supports Intel Haswell-EP E5-2600 v3 processors and DDR4 memory. Just as we saw in our review of the GIGABYTE MD60-SC0, the new GIGABYTE MD70-HB0 also features new improvements to the board design. This newer motherboard has an all-IR-power design that uses IRPowlRstage IC controllers, OS-CON capacitors for extended life, and high-end ferrite core chokes for stable power delivery, which we think will be typical for GIGABYTE's server boards now.

The same general features that GIGABYTE continues to offer on its new boards include easy BIOS update capability, which allows you to flash the BIOS without utilities; and the IPMI web interface to updated to 2.0, which adds even more remote access features.

Accessories listed for the GIGABYTE MD70-HB0 on the GIGABYTE website include:

  • 1x Driver CD
  • 1x I/O Shield
  • 1x User Manual
  • 2x SATA III 6Gb/s Cables
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The MD70-HB0 is the base motherboard used on GIGABYTE's R270-R3C dual socket 2U rackmount server. Now, let's take a closer look at the MD70-HB0 server motherboard.

Specifications and Layout

Specifications

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The specifications for the MD70-HB0 include three PCIe x16 slots and three PCIe x8 slots that can provide good additional adapter slots for network connectivity, or additional storage controllers. Management is delivered through a dedicated LAN port that can provide iKVM features with no additional accessories, which we like. Memory capacity is typical for general-purpose servers with up to 1TB for maximum load out using 64GB DDR4 DIMMs.

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Here we see a detailed block diagram showing how all the input/output ports connect to different chips on the motherboard.

Layout

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Here we get our first look at the MD70-HB0 server motherboard.

For a general-purpose server motherboard, the layout is typical with the CPUs in line on the right side. All of the power connections are in good locations, but are spread out over the length of the motherboard. There is plenty of clearance around the power connectors, which allows easy plug-in and removal of connections.

The SATA connections on the left side are also in a good location; accessory cards installed in the PCIe slots do not cover them, and allow the use of standard SATA connections.

Here is the full list of connections and headers found on the MD70-HB0:

  • 1x 24-pin ATX Main Power Connector
  • 2x 8-pin ATX 12V Power Connectors
  • 2x Mini-SAS HD Connectors
  • 10x SATA3 6Gb/s Connectors
  • 1x PMBus Header
  • 2x CPU Fan Headers
  • 5x System Fan Headers
  • 1x Front Panel Header
  • 1x HDD Backplane Board Header
  • 1x USB 3.0 Header
  • 1x TPM Module Connector
  • 1x Serial Port Connector
  • 2x SATA SPGIO Headers
  • 1x IPMB Connector
  • 1x Software RAID Key Connector
  • 1x LSI RAID Key Connector
  • 2x LAN LED Connectors
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Here we see the PCIe slots, which are: 3x PCIe x16 and 3x PCIe x8 slots. To provide extra cooling, GIGABYTE uses a copper heat sink for the Intel X540 network chipset.

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Now we are looking at the upper-right side of the motherboard. On the top edge, we see two 10GbE BASE-T LAN ports (Intel X540) and one 10/100/1000 management LAN that supply the board's network connectivity.

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Here we are looking at the lower-left section of the motherboard. Along the left-hand edge of the motherboard we find eight SATA 3 6Gb/s connectors. Just to the right of these, we have two SATA 3 6Gb/s connectors that support SATA DOM function. On the bottom edge, we have two Mini-SAS HD connectors (for eight SAS 12Gb/s) connected to the LSI SAS 3008 controller.

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The right side of the motherboard has the main 24-pin power connector and one 8-pin power connector.

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Now we are looking at the rear I/O ports. We have a serial port at the left, and the video port next to that. Next, we have two RJ-45 LAN ports (10 gigabit Ethernet LAN ports). The final stack has a KVM server management 10/100/1000 LAN port (dedicated LAN port) with two USB 3.0 ports below.

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The MD70-HB0 uses two Mini-SAS HD connectors (for eight SAS 12Gb/s), which are connected to the LSI SAS 3008 controller chip.

BIOS, Remote Management

BIOS

The MD70-HB0 BIOS is typical for server motherboards.

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Here we are looking at the main screen of the BIOS. In this screen, you can see basic information about the motherboard, BIOS version, and memory; and you can also see the date/time.

The rest of the BIOS screen shots are typical for motherboards of this type, so we will just show what is available.

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Remote Management

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To get remote access up and running, enter the BIOS, and head over to the server management tab. Next, move down to the BMC LAN configuration tab; this tab will show the IP address used for remote access.

Enter this IP address into your browser, and you will see the login page.

Log in using:

Username: admin

Password: password

As a best practice, administrative users should change factory default username/password logins before connecting any new server to their network.

The rest of the screens are typical for GIGABYTE remote access, so we will just show the screens here.

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Test System Setup

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We would like to thank GIGABYTE, Crucial, SanDisk, Yokogawa, Thermaltake, Noctua, SPEC, Passmark, Primate Labs, and AIDA64 for their support in providing parts for our test system.

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The processor we will be using is the Intel Xeon E5-2699 v3, which features 18 cores with hyper-threading, and will supply the processing power.

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The Intel C612 chipset will have provided support for up to 18 core processors.

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Here we get a look at the task manager showing all 72 threads used. The E5-2699 v3 processors provide a massive amount of computational power.

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In our tests, we will be using the new Crucial DDR4 memory, which has a speed of 2133 MHz, and is rated at CL15. We will use eight of these 16GB sticks, and that will bring us to 128GB of RAM. We have already looked at these memory kits, and you can find our review here: Crucial DDR4-2133 DRx4 RDIMM Memory Review - Testing up to 256GB.

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Here we can see the timings of the Crucial DDR4 memory that we will be using in our tests.

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The memory setup page describes how different configurations and types of memory used will effect memory speeds. Our tests will use a full load of memory, and that will drop our memory speed down to 1866 MHz.

CPU Benchmarks

CINEBENCH R15

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The MD70-HB0 scores well in CINEBENCH R15, which shows very good performance. This is a general-purpose motherboard that is tuned for low-power usage. It does show strong single-threaded performance.

wPrime

wPrime is a leading multi-threaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance. This is a great test to use to rate the system speed, and it also works as a stress test to see how well the system cooling is performing.

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In wPrime, the MD70-HB0 is a general-purpose server motherboard, and shows very good single-threaded performance.

Memory & System Benchmarks

AIDA64

AIDA64 memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, and Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth.

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Memory bandwidth for the MD70-HB0 is improved over the MD60-SC0, and shows good memory write numbers.

Linpack

The Intel optimized LINPACK benchmark is a generalization of the LINPACK 1000 benchmark. It solves a dense (real*8) system of linear equations (Ax=b), measures the amount of time it takes to factor and solve the system, converts that time into a performance rate, and tests the results for accuracy.

LINPACK is a measure of a computer's floating-point rate of execution ability and measured in GFLOPS (Floating-point Operations per Second); ten-billion FLOPS = ten GFLOPS. LINPACK is a very heavy compute application that can take advantage of the new AVX2 instruction. As it puts a very high load on the system, it is also a good stress test program.

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In LINPACK, the MD70-HB0 motherboard shows average bandwidth numbers, but still has strong numbers while running at lower power.

Even small increases in scores show a big improvement in performance. Certain parts of this test rely on storage, so using setups with SSDs and RAID 0 would increase those scores.

Geekbench - Stream

Geekbench 3 is Primate Labs' cross-platform processor benchmark, with a new scoring system that separates single-core and multi-core performance, and new workloads that simulate real-world scenarios. It also includes STREAM based memory tests which we will include on our reviews.

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Here we are looking at the single-core STREAM memory tests. Bandwidth shows improved numbers over the MD60-SC0.

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Now we are looking at multi-core STREAM tests. The MD70-HB0 turned out to be well-suited for multi-threaded memory bandwidth results in this test. It ranks at the highest shown so far; this is very good for the MD70-HB0 running at a lower-power state.

UnixBench and SPEC CPU2006v1.2

UnixBench 5.1.3

UnixBench has been around for a long time now, and is a good general-purpose bench to test on Linux based systems.

This is a system benchmark, and it shows the performance of single-threaded and multi-threaded tasks.

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Synthetic benchmarks only show part of the performance of a motherboard. When using tests that are more complex, we will start to see a different trend in the scores.

UnixBench shows the MD70-HB0 and E5-2699 v3s getting above average multi-threaded results.

SPEC CPU2006 v1.2

SPEC CPU2006v1.2 measures compute intensive performance across the system using realistic benchmarks to rate real performance.

In our testing with SPEC CPU2006 we use the basic commands to run these tests.

" Runspec --tune=base --config=tweaktown.cfg ," then " int ," or " fp ."

To do multi-threaded, we add in " --rate=72."

When SPEC CPU first came out, these tests could take up to a week to run, but as computers become faster, our tests now take up to four days for a full run, and even less on some systems.

The user can do many things to effect the results of CPU2006 runs, including compiler optimizations, add-ons like Smartheap, and different commands used to start the tests.

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This benchmark has many different commands to use depending on what the user is looking for. For our tests, we used basic commands that run a full test with a base tune.

Here you can see the SPEC scores after full runs for Integer (int) and Floating Point (fp) tests.

Single-core runs show how fast (speed) a CPU can perform a given task. In the multi-core runs, we set SPEC CPU2006v1.2 to use all threads to measure the throughput of the system.

The additional cores/threads of this system have a huge impact on performance in these tests and really show the amount of horsepower that a single socket motherboard has.

Single-threaded results are still very important, but when you need many single-threaded apps to run; moving to a CPU with more cores is the way to go.

The MD70-HB0 and dual E5-2699 v3s start to shine in multi-threaded interger workloads.

CPU2006 shows strong multi-core results on the MD70-HB0. Let's take a look at the individual test scores.

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By looking at the results of single-threaded integer runs, we can get an idea of the speed at which the E5-2699 v3s can crunch through the different integer tests. Not all CPUs are equal here, and ones that have a higher speed will perform these tests faster. Naturally, using an overclocked system or CPUs with a higher stock speed will generate higher results.

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Now we run the test using all 36 cores/72 threads on the E5-2699 v3 processors to measure the throughput of the system. In this test, more cores/threads will have a greater effect on the outcome.

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Just as we did with the integer tests, we now run the floating-point tests in single-threaded (speed) mode.

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Here we see the results of the multi-core floating-point run that uses all 36 cores/72 threads on the E5-2699 v3 processors. Like the multi-threaded integer test, more cores/threads will have a greater impact on the test.

Just like the integer multi-threaded tests, the MD70-HB0 and E5-2699 v3s really takes off here, even in low-power-use settings.

Power Consumption & Final Thoughts

Power Consumption

We have upgraded our power testing equipment, and now use a Yokogawa WT310 power meter for testing. The Yokogawa WT310 feeds its data through a USB cable to another machine where we can capture the test results.

To test total system power use, we used AIDA64 Stability test to load the CPU, and then recorded the results. We also now add in the power use for a server from off state, to hitting the power button to turn it on, and take it all the way to the desktop. This gives us data on power consumption during the boot up process.

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The MD70-HB0 uses ~100 watts at idle on the desktop, and it peaks at ~545 watts under full load. The MD70-HB0 drops in power usage after the test runs for ~30 seconds, and begins to run at the lowest power rate we have seen, which is ~50 watts lower than the other boards we have tested.

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With the MD70-HB0, we see peak power use of ~355 watts during the boot-up process. After the boot-up process is complete, the system settles down to ~90 watts.

Final Thoughts

This is the second dual socket 2011-E server motherboard from GIGABYTE we have tested in the lab, with the first one being the MD60-SC0.

Early on in our testing process, we found the performance of the MD70-HB0 to be average for a general-purpose server motherboard. This is okay for this particular class of boards where other factors such as board costs and reliability come into play.

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Later on in our testing, we started to notice memory bandwidth was shaping up to be very good, and in other tests, single-threaded performance was improved. The MD70-HB0 also showed very good multi-threaded results in some tests. Ultimately, we ended up with a mixed bag of performance results. In some cases, we saw good numbers; and in other cases, the numbers were average. However, this is expected for general-purpose motherboards, and in most cases, we found it to be a good all-round board that would work well in many different types of systems.

It was not until our final power tests that we saw the real strengths of the MD70-HB0. Power usage of this board ranges in at about 50 watts lower in heavy loads in comparison to other motherboards we have tested. This may not seem like a big difference, but power use is a big issue in data centers, and lowering server power use by 50 watts per server can save a substantial amount in running costs. Lower server power use also results in lower heat output for each machine, which lowers cooling costs. We also expect that if you decide to run CPUs other than the monster E5-2699 v3s that we ran today, you could expect even lower power usage.

Just as we remarked in our review of the MD60-SC0, we like the new IPMI 2.0 features, and the new BIOS flash abilities that GIGABYTE offers on this new line-up of motherboards. In the end, we found the MD70-HB0 to be a very strong motherboard that offers a good balance in performance and power saving.

TweakTown award
Performance98%
Quality including Design and Build96%
General Features95%
Bundle and Packaging90%
Value for Money99%
Overall96%

The Bottom Line: Quality, feature load out, and reliability are a big part of server motherboard design, but when it all comes together with the best power savings we have seen in the lab, you have a real winner on your hands.

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William Harmon started working with computers back in 2005 and began overclocking all kinds of different setups. My focus back then and even now is extreme cooling using Single Stage Phase units, Cascades and Liquid Nitrogen. During this time I was also in several competitions that GIGABYTE had sponsored, GOOC 2009 and 2010. Using technics in overclocking and cooling that I have learned over the years I started building high speed workstations and servers for clients who needed higher performing systems. Many of these systems are used in high frequency trader companies and work stations used in all kinds of professions. At TweakTown, I provide and develop accurate test and benchmark methods for servers and other equipment to help make purchasing decisions easier.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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