Thursday, September 13, 2012

GIGABYTE gives you added drive speed control on the X79S-UP5


Ian Cutress at Anandtech recently reviewed the GIGABYTE X79S-UP5 WIFI, a 2011 socket board which uses a bonafide server Chipset, the Intel C606. This means we can offer up to 8 SAS ports plus full on Intel Xeon and ECC memory support. Pretty neat eh?

However, Ian and dropped us line to say he wasn’t seeing full bandwidth on his RAID-0 SSD array. My first response was “You’re running what?”, after all the board is designed for SAS and workstation-esque applications, not new world records in data bandwidth. After looking deeper however, we managed to confirm what Ian was seeing, that the C606 chipset was in fact the issue.

The chipset we were using was keeping the SAS ports tuned for use as a Server or Workstation rig by limiting the SAS bandwidth to strictly SATA Gen 1 speeds. This is part and parcel of the Intel spec and perhaps shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as most SAS drives are mechanical, spinning at either 7,200 or 10,000 or at most 15,000 rpm, which means they generally won’t saturate the bandwidth available from SATA Gen 1, and certainly won’t find themselves in a RAID-0 very often. Intel most likely is prioritizing stability, something that it doesn’t guarantee at SATA Gen 2 and 3 speeds.

One things is for sure, Intel didn’t tune the chipset for an SSD RAID-0 array. But know you us. Here at GIGABYTE we aim to please, so we had a chat with our BIOS team and a few days later, bang – we had a new BIOS revision that let you choose which SATA Gen you want to use. We’ve added small disclaimer to remind you that Intel doesn’t in fact guarantee 100% stability beyond Gen. 1, but if you’re in the mood to set up some racey SSD RAID storage….now you can. Race away my boy.

Cheers for Ian for raising the issue. It was one of those choice moments when a product reviewer managed to have some impact on the product itself. Catch Ian’s full review on Anandtech here. More info about the GIGABYTE X79S-UP5 WIFI here.

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