ga x79s ud5 Gigabyte displays its first LGA 2011 workstation board at CeBIT

Traditionally Gigabyte's consumer motherboard division has steered clear of the entry-level workstation market, so we were quite surprised to see its GA-X79S-UD5 board on display at CeBIT, although we'd been told that the company was working on such a product. The S in the model name apparently stands for server, although this is much more of a workstation product than a server product.

Traditionally Gigabyte's consumer motherboard division has steered clear of the entry-level workstation market, so we were quite surprised to see its GA-X79S-UD5 board on display at CeBIT, although we'd been told that the company was working on such a product. The S in the model name apparently stands for server, although this is much more of a workstation product than a server product.

Despite the model name, the board is built around Intel's new C606 chipset for the LGA-2011 Xeon E5 series of processors rather than the X79 chipset, although the board only has a single CPU socket. The X79S-UD5 is compatible with both the E5 Xeon processors and the consumer level Core i7's. Gigabyte also mentioned that its current line of X79 has also received a BIOS upgrade that will make those boards compatible with the E5 Xeon's.

ga x79s ud5 Gigabyte displays its first LGA 2011 workstation board at CeBIT

So what about the board? Well, it has five x16 PCI Express slots, of which two are full x16 slots, one is a x8 slot and two are x4 slots, although we're not sure if all are PCI Express 3.0. There's also a single PCI slot on the board. Add eight DIMM slots, four SATA 3Gbps and two SATA 6Gbps ports and you got a pretty high-end X79 board. However, thanks to the C606 chipset, the X79S-UD5 has eight native SAS ports, although sadly Intel was unable to deliver 6Gbps speeds in the end, so the ports are limited to speeds of 3Gbps. One important thing for anyone considering using this board with a Core i7 CPU is that the SAS ports won't work with this CPU, as it requires the extra four lanes of PCI Express 3.0 bandwidth available from the Xeon processors to work. The SAS controller isn't a true hardware RAID, but it features XOR processing, so it should help to offload the CPU a lot more than your average software RAID implementation.

The board also has headers for two front USB 3.0 ports, six USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port and it has a power button. At the rear we find a PS/2 port, four USB 3.0 ports, a FireWire port, what looked like three eSATA ports, although at least one appears to be a USB/eSATA combo port, four USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, 7.1-channel audio with optical S/PDIF out and oddly enough an O.C. button and a BIOS chip switch button.

ga x79s ud5 2 Gigabyte displays its first LGA 2011 workstation board at CeBIT

The X79S-UD5 will also ship with Gigabyte's 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 combo card. We're not sure when the board will launch and as for pricing, well, it's not likely to be a cheap motherboard thanks to the cost of the C606 chipset which should be a fair bit more expensive than the X79 chipset. That said, as an entry level workstation board or potentially even a single socket server board thanks to the SAS ports, it might be an interesting option for some.