Gigabyte GA-7PESH1 BIOS

As the server team at Gigabyte is essentially a different company to the consumer motherboard team, there is little cross talk and parity between the two.  When the consumer motherboard side used the C606 server chipset for the Gigabyte X79S-UP5, the whole package got the consumer motherboard BIOS, software and utilities.  With this C602 enabled GA-7PESH1, utilities such as the BIOS and software are designed in the server department and are not as well designed as their consumer counterparts.

In terms of the BIOS, this means we get a reskinned Aptio Setup Utility from American Megatrends, rather than the 3D BIOS implementation.  Aesthetically the BIOS is prehistoric in terms of recent trends, but the server based platform has a lot more to deal with – having just a list of options make it very easy to add/subtract functionality as required.

Updating the BIOS is a hassle from the off – there is no update feature in the BIOS itself, and the utilities provided by Gigabyte are limited to DOS bootable USB sticks only.  This means sourcing a DOS bootable USB stick in order to put the software onboard.  There are a few utilities online that will streamline this process, but due to some memory issues I initially had with the motherboard, thankfully Gigabyte talked me through the exact procedure.

The front screen of the BIOS is basic at best, telling us the BIOS version, the total memory installed and the system date.  Despite the market orientation for such a product, some indication as to what the motherboard is and the CPUs that are installed, at the bare minimum, would have been nice.

Apologies for the quality of the BIOS images – the BIOS has no ‘Print Screen to USB’ utility, and thus these images are taken with my DSLR in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

The Advanced menu tab has options relating to PCI Configuration, Trusted Computing (TPM), CPU identification and configuration (such as Hyperthreading and Power Management), error logging, SATA configuration, Super IO configuration and Serial Port options.

The Chipset tab option gives us access to North Bridge/South Bridge options, such as the memory controller, VT-d, PCIe lane counts and memory detection.

In order to access the server management features, after an ethernet cable has been plugged into the server management port, the IP for login details can be found in the server management tab:

Other options in the BIOS are for boot priority and boot override.

Gigabyte GA-7PESH1 Visual Inspection, Board Features Gigabyte GA-7PESH1 Software


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  • mayankleoboy1 - Saturday, January 05, 2013 - link

    Ian :

    How much difference do you think Xeon Phi will make in these very different type of Computations?
    Will buying a Xeon Phi "pay itself out" as you said in the above comments ? (or is xeon phi linux only ?)
  • IanCutress - Saturday, January 05, 2013 - link

    As far as we know, Xeon Phi will be released for Linux only to begin with. I have friends who have been able to play with them so far, and getting 700 GFlops+ in DGEMM in double precision.

    It always comes down to the algorithm with these codes. It seems that if you have single precision code that doesn't mind being in a 2P system, then the GPU route may be preferable. If not, then Phi is an option. I'm hoping to get my hands on one inside H1 this year. I just have to get my hands dirty with Linux as well.

    In terms of the codes used here, if I were to guess, the Implicit Finite Difference would probably benefit a lot from Xeon Phi if it works the way I hope it does.

  • mayankleoboy1 - Saturday, January 05, 2013 - link

    Rather stupid question, but have you tried using PGO builds ?
    Also, do you build the code with the default optimizations, or use the MSVC equivalent switch of -O2 ?
  • IanCutress - Saturday, January 05, 2013 - link

    Using Visual Studio 2012, all the speed optimisations were enabled including /GL, /O2, /Ot and /fp:fast. For each part I analysed the sections which took the most time using the Performance Analysis tools, and tried to avoid the long memory reads. Hence the Ex-FD uses an iterative loading which actually boosts speed by a good 20-30% than without it.

  • Klimax - Sunday, January 06, 2013 - link

    Interesting. Why not Ox (all optimisations on)

    BTW: Do you have access to VTune?
  • IanCutress - Wednesday, January 09, 2013 - link

    In case /Ox performs an optimisation for memory over speed in an attempt to balance optimisations. As speed is priority #1, it made more sense to me to optimise for that only. If VS2012 gave more options, I'd adjust accordingly.

    Never heard of VTune, but I did use the Performance Analysis tools in VS2012 to optimise certain parts of the code.

  • Beenthere - Saturday, January 05, 2013 - link

    Business and mobo makers do not use 2P mobos to get high benches or performance bragging rights per se. These systems are build for bullet-proof reliability and up time. It does no good for a mobo/system to be 3% faster if it crashes while running a month long analysis. These 2P mobos are about 100% reliability, something rarely found in a enthusiasts mobo.

    Enterprise mobos are rarely sold by enthusiast marketeers. Newegg has a few enterprise mobos listed primarily because they have started a Newegg Biz website to expand their revenue streams. They don't have much in the line of true enterprise hardware however. It's a token offering because manufacturers are not likely to support whoring of the enterprise market lest they lose all of their quality vendors who provide customer technical product support.
  • psyq321 - Sunday, January 06, 2013 - link

    Actually, ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS allows for some overclocking capabilities.

    CPU overclocking with 2P/4P Xeon E5 (2600/4600 sequence) is a no-go because Intel explicitly did not store proper ICC data so it is impossible to manipulate BCLK meaningfully (set the different ratios). Oh, and the multipliers are locked :)

    However, Z9PE D8 WS allows memory overclocking - I managed to run 100% 24/7 stable with the Samsung ECC 1600 DDR3 "low voltage" RAM (16 GB sticks) - just switching memory voltage from 1.35v to 1.55v allows overclocking memory from 1600 MHz to 2133 MHz.

    Why would anyone want to do that in a scientific or b2b environment? The only usage I can see are applications where memory I/O is the biggest bottleneck. Large-scale neural simulations are one of such applications, and getting 10 GB/s more of memory I/O can help a lot - especially if stable.

    Also, low-latency trading applications are known to benefit from overclocked hardware and it is, in fact, used in production environment.

    Modern hardware does tend to have larger headrooms between the manufacturer's operating point and the limits - if the benefit from an overclock is more benefitial than work invested to find the point where the results become unstable - and, of course, shorter life span of the hardware - then, it can be used. And it is used, for example in some trading scenarios.
  • Drazick - Saturday, January 05, 2013 - link

    Will You, Please, Update Your Google+ Page?

    It would be much easier to follow you there.
  • Ryan Smith - Saturday, January 05, 2013 - link

    Our Google+ page is just a token page. If you wish to follow us then your best option is to follow our RSS feeds. Reply

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