Subject: Processors | August 29, 2017 - 12:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Xeon W, xeon scalable, xeon, workstation, processor, Intel, cpu
Intel has officially announced their new workstation processor lineup, with Xeon Scalable and Xeon W versions aimed at both professional and mainstream workstation systems.
"Workstations powered by Intel Xeon processors meet the most stringent demands for professionals seeking to increase productivity and rapidly bring data to life. Intel today disclosed that the world-record performance of the Intel Xeon Scalable processors is now available for next-generation expert workstations to enable photorealistic design, modeling, artificial intelligence (AI) analytics, and virtual-reality (VR) content creation."
The first part of Intel’s product launch announcement are the new Xeon Scalable processors, first announced in July, and these are dual-socket solutions targeting professional workstations. Versions with up to 56 cores/112 threads are available, and frequencies of up to 4.20 GHz are possible via Turbo Boost. Intel is emphasising the large performance impact of upgrading to these new Xeon processors with a comparison to older equipment (a trend in the industry of late), which is relevant when considering the professional market where upgrades are far slower than the enthusiast desktop segment:
“Expert workstations will experience up to a 2.71x boost in performance compared to a 4-year-old system and up to 1.65x higher performance compared to the previous generation.”
The second part of announcement are new Xeon W processors, which will be part of Intel’s mainstream workstation offering. These are single-socket processors, with up to 18 cores/36 threads and Turbo Boost frequencies up to 4.50 GHz. The performance impact with these new Xeon W CPUs compared to previous generations is not as great as the Xeon Scalable processors above, as Intel offers the same comparison to older hardware with the Xeon W:
“Mainstream workstations will experience up to a 1.87x boost in performance compared to a 4-year-old system4 and up to 1.38x higher performance compared to the previous generation.”
Full PR is available from Intel's newsroom.
Subject: Graphics Cards | November 7, 2016 - 09:32 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: WX 7100, WX 5100, WX 4100, workstation, radeon pro, radeon, quadro, Polaris, amd
The professional card market is a lucrative one. For many years NVIDIA has had a near strangle-hold on it with their Quadro series of cards. Offering features and extended support far beyond that of their regular desktop cards, Quadros became the go-to cards for many professional applications. AMD has not been overlooking this area though and have had a history of professional cards that have also included features and support not seen in the standard desktop arena. AMD has slowly been chipping away at Quadro’s marketshare and they hope that today’s announcement will help further that particular goal.
It has now been around five months since the initial release of the Polaris based graphics cards from AMD. Featuring the 4th generation GCN architecture and fabricated on Samsung’s latest 14nm process, the RX 4x0 series of chips have proven to be a popular option in the sub-$250 range of cards. These products may not have been the slam-dunk that many were hoping from AMD, they have kept the company competitive in terms of power and performance. AMD has also seen a positive impact from the sales of these products on the overall bottom line.
Today AMD is announcing three new professional cards based on the latest Polaris based GPUs. These range in power and performance from a sub 50 watt part up to a very reasonable 130 watts. These currently do not feature the SSD that was shown off earlier this year.
The lowest end offering is the Radeon Pro WX 4100. This is a low profile, single slot card that consumes less than 50 watts. It features 1024 stream units, which is greater than that of the desktop RX 460’s 896. The WX 4100 features 2.4 TFLOPS of performance while the RX 460 is at 2.2 TFLOPS. AMD did not specify exactly what chips were used in the professional cards, but the assumption here is that this one is a fully enabled Polaris 11.
The power consumption of this card is probably the most impressive part. Also of great interest is the DP 1.4 support and the four outputs. Finally the card supports 5K monitors at 60 Hz. This is a small, quiet, and cool running part that features the entire AMD Radeon Enterprise software support of the professional market.
The next card up is the Pro WX 5100. This features a sub 75 watt GPU that runs 1792 stream units. We guess that this chip is a cut down Polaris 10. On the desktop side it is similar to the RX 470, but that particular card features more stream units and a faster clockspeed. The RX 470 is rated at 4.9 TFLOPS while the WX 5100 is at 3.9 TFLOPS. Fewer stream units and a lower clockspeed allow it to hit that sub-75 watt figure.
It supports the same number of outputs as the 4100, but they are full sized DP. The card is full sized but still only single slot due to the very conservative TDP.
The final card is the WX 7100. This is based on the fully enabled Polaris 10 GPU and is physically similar to the RX 480. They both feature 2304 stream units, but the WX 7100 is slightly clocked down from the RX 480 as it features 5.7 TFLOPS of performance vs. 5.8 TFLOPS. The card is rated below 130 watts TDP which is about 20 watts lower than a standard RX 480. AMD did not explain to us how they were able to lower the TDP of this card, but it could be simple binning of parts or an upcoming revision of Polaris 10 to improve thermals.
This card is again full sized but single slot. It features the same 4 DP connectors as the WX 5100 and the full monitor support that the 1.4 standard entails.
These products will see initial availability for this month. Plans may of course change and they will be introduced slightly later. Currently the 7100 and 4100 are expected after the 10th while the 5100 should show up on the 18th.
AMD is also releasing the Radeon Pro Software. This is essentially their professional driver development that improves upon features, stability, and performance over time. AMD aims to release new drivers for this market every 4th Thursday each quarter.
This is certainly an important area for AMD to address with their new cards and this updated software scheme. NVIDIA has made a pretty penny over the years from their Quadro stack due to the extremely robust margins for these cards. The latest generation of AMD Radeon Pro WX cards look to stack up favorably against the latest products from NVIDIA.
The WX 7100 will come in at a $799 price point, while the WX 5100 and WX 4100 will hit $499 and $399 respectively.
Subject: Systems | October 26, 2016 - 04:31 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: workstation, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, GTX 980M, GTX 965M, desktop, DCI-P3, core i7, core i5, all-in-one, AIO, 4000x3500
Microsoft has announced their first all-in-one PC with the Surface Studio, and it looks like Apple has some serious competition on their hands in the high-end AIO workstation space. Outfitted with the highest resolution display this side of Cupertino, 6th-generation Intel Skylake processors, and discrete NVIDIA graphics, there is plenty of power for most users (though gamers will clearly be looking elsewhere). Make no mistake, this new AIO from Microsoft is not going to replace a standard desktop for most people due to the $2999+ price tag, but for creative professionals and other workstation users it is a compelling option.
"Expanding the Surface family, Surface Studio is a new class of device that transforms from a workstation into a powerful digital canvas, unlocking a more natural and immersive way to create on the thinnest LCD monitor ever built.1 With a stunning ultra-HD 4.5K screen, Surface Studio delivers 63 percent more pixels than a state-of-the-art 4K TV. Surface Studio works beautifully with pen, touch and Surface Dial — a new input device designed for the creative process that lets you use two hands on the screen to compose and create in all new ways."
The star of the show is the 28-inch PixelSense display, which boasts a massive 4500x3000 resolution for a pixel density of 192 ppi, and the taller 3:2 aspect ratio will be welcomed by some users as well. Microsoft is using 10-bit panels for this premium AIO offering, and color reproduction should be outstanding with the Surface Studio thanks to "individually color calibrated" displays. Another advantage for creative customers is the display's multi-touch capability and 1024 pressure-level Surface Pen, which makes this a very nice option for digital artists - especially at 28 inches/192 ppi.
Touchscreen desktops need display placement flexibility to be useful, and here Microsoft has a "zero gravity" hinge to allow for easy movement. The design looks stable thanks to a pair of arms connecting the display to the base, and this lower half is what actually houses the PC components. What's inside? Here's a look at the official specs:
- Screen: 28” PixelSense™ Display
- Resolution: 4500 x 3000 (192 PPI)
- Color settings: Adobe sRGB and DCI-P3, individually color calibrated
- Touch: 10 point multi-touch
- Aspect Ratio: 3:2
- Supports Pen enabled and Zero Gravity Hinge
- Processor: 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 or i7
- Memory: 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB RAM
- i5 Intel 8GB: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 965M 2GB GDDR5 memory
- i7 Intel 16GB: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 965M 2GB GDDR5 memory
- i7 Intel 32GB: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 980M 4GB GDDR5 memory
- Rapid Hybrid Drive options: 1TB or 2TB
- Connections & expansions:
- 4 x USB 3.0 (one high power port)
- Full-size SD ™ card reader (SDXC) compatible
- Mini DisplayPort
- Headset jack
- Compatible with Surface Dial on-screen interaction*
- 1 Gigabit Ethernet port
- Cameras, video and audio:
- Windows Hello1 face sign-in camera
- 5.0 MP camera with 1080p HD video (front)
- Autofocus camera with 1080p HD video (rear)
- Dual microphones
- Stereo 2.1 speakers with Dolby® Audio™ Premium
- 3.5 mm headphone jack
- Wi-Fi: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n compatible
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
- Xbox Wireless built-in
- TPM chip for enterprise security
- Enterprise-grade protection with Windows Hello2 face sign-in
- Warranty: 1-year limited hardware warranty
- Display: 637.35 mm x 438.90 mm x 12.5 mm (25.1” x 17.3” x 0.5”)
- Base: 250.00 mm x 220.00 mm x 32.2 mm (9.8” x 8.7” x 1.3”)
- Product weight: 9.56 kg max (21 lbs max)
The Surface Studio is currently available for pre-order at Microsoft.com with prices ranging from $2999 to $4199, depending on configuration.
Subject: Motherboards | August 29, 2016 - 01:28 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X99-E-10G WS, workstation, motherboard, Intel X99, asus, 10GbE, 10 gigabit
ASUS has officially announced their latest workstation board for the Intel X99 platform, and the X99-E-10G WS offers a 10GbE NIC. In fact, it has two of the Intel X550-powered 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports onboard (along with many more premium features).
ASUS lists these key features:
- First workstation board with dual Intel® 10G LANs (X550-AT2) on board
- 4-Way PCI-E Gen3 x16 link supporting NVidia GeForce SLI® and AMD CrossFireX™ on demand
- 5-Way Optimization by Dual Intelligent Processors 5 – One click, total system optimization
- Ultimate transfer speed : the latest 10Gb/s USB 3.1 type-A and type-C, 32Gbit/s M.2 and U.2
- SafeSlot : reinvented, strengthened PCIe slot utilizes a new insert-molding process for superior retention and shearing resistance
The full list of specifications is daunting, as ASUS has packed just about every imaginable option into this board. Processor support also extends beyond Core i7 processors to include Intel Xeon E5-1600 v3, E5-2600 v3, E5-1600 v4, and E5-2600 v4 series CPUs. (Naturally, ECC memory is supported when using a compatible CPU.)
We await info on pricing and availablity.
Subject: Motherboards | August 15, 2016 - 10:49 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X99A WORKSTATION, workstation, socket 2011-3, msi, motherboard, Military Class 5, Intel X99, ECC
MSI’s new X99A WORKSTATION motherboard offers what the company calls “extreme QA testing” to go along with the “industries higher quality components” in a motherboard that doesn’t scrimp on features, either. The ATX motherboard supports ECC Registered DIMMs (with a supported Xeon processor), has dual Intel NICs onboard (with teaming support), and offers Steel Armor PCI-E and DDR4 slots, among other features.
“Engineered to cater even the most demanding professional. By using industries’ highest quality components, with an unmatched R&D design and extreme QA testing, the WORKSTATION motherboards guarantee the best in performance, stability and reliability.
Packed with features, including optimizations for NVIDIA QUADRO graphics cards and industry leading storage solutions, the WORKSTATION motherboard is the perfect multi-tasking powerhouse for demanding productivity applications.”
Features from MSI:
- Supports New Intel Core i7 Processor Extreme Edition for LGA 2011-3 socket.
- DDR4 Steel Armor with Best signal stability. Supports ECC Registered memory.
- MULTI-GPU with Steel Armor: Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports Nvidia Quadro SLI.
- Maximized high speed storage support: Turbo M.2 32Gb/s + Turbo U.2 32Gb/s + SATA-E 10Gb/s
- USB 3.1 Gen2 2X FASTER: USB 3.1 Gen2 offers performance twice as fast as a regular USB 3.0 connection.
- Military Class 5: The latest evolution in high quality components featuring the brand new Titanium Chokes.
- Dual Intel LAN with Teaming: higher networking performance and stability.
- Audio Boost 3: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality
- Guard-Pro: Improved Protection and Power Efficiency
- EZ Debug LED: Easiest way to troubleshoot
- Overvoltage Protection:Prevent Unforeseen Damage
- Click BIOS 5: Award-winning brand new Click BIOS 5 with high resolution scalable font
The MSI X99A WORKSTATION motherboard is not yet listed on Newegg, but the listing is active (though temporarily out of stock) on Amazon with a $389.99 price tag. As to supported processors, that part of the source link currently offers no information, though MSI states "The X99A WORKSTATION supports the latest Intel processors out of the box, both Broadwell-E and XEON based models".
Subject: General Tech | April 18, 2016 - 12:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hp, z1, workstation, AIO
The newly announced HP Z1 all-in-one workstation is smaller than its predecessors but hides quite powerful capabilities inside. You can choose between a Skylake or Xeon E3 chip from Intel, 32 or 64GB of RAM and you can add in a pair of HP Z Turbo Drive PCIe SDDs to complement the installed HDDs. The screen is 4k, but of a slightly smaller size than previous models at 23.6" which may deter some previous owners from upgrading, support for NVIDIA's new Maxwell chips may change that opinion. For peripherals, there are a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports, Type-C form factor for those of you whom this is of prime importance. As you can see from the picture at The Inquirer, these AIO's are designed to be user serviceable and you can upgrade most of the components after you have purchased the machine.
"HP INC has unveiled its third-generation Z1 workstation, having given it a boost with more memory, more storage and the latest Intel processors. "
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Seagate revenue numbers rain on cloud after market misses @ The Register
- Huawei P9 vs P9 Plus specs comparison @ The Inquirer
- Hackers can track a smartphone just by knowing its number @ The Inquirer
- Understanding LXC and LXD, Canonical's Open Source Container Solution @ Linux.com
- Mitel nabs Polycom in $1.96bn deal @ The Register
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 4, 2016 - 09:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: workstation, VR, virtual reality, quadro, NVIDIA Quadro M5500, nvidia, msi, mobile workstation, enterprise
NVIDIA's VR Ready program, which is designed to inform users which GeForce GTX GPUs “deliver an optimal VR experience”, has moved to enterprise with a new program aimed at NVIDIA Quadro GPUs and related systems.
“We’re working with top OEMs such as Dell, HP and Lenovo to offer NVIDIA VR Ready professional workstations. That means models like the HP Z Workstation, Dell Precision T5810, T7810, T7910, R7910, and the Lenovo P500, P710, and P910 all come with NVIDIA-recommended configurations that meet the minimum requirements for the highest performing VR experience.
Quadro professional GPUs power NVIDIA professional VR Ready systems. These systems put our VRWorks software development kit at the fingertips of VR headset and application developers. VRWorks offers exclusive tools and technologies — including Context Priority, Multi-res Shading, Warp & Blend, Synchronization, GPU Affinity and GPU Direct — so pro developers can create great VR experiences.”
Partners include Dell, HP, and Lenovo, with new workstations featuring NVIDIA professional VR Ready certification.
Desktop isn't the only space for workstations, and in this morning's announcement NVIDIA and MSI are introducing the WT72 mobile workstation; the “the first NVIDIA VR Ready professional laptop”:
"The MSI WT72 VR Ready laptop is the first to use our new Maxwell architecture-based Quadro M5500 GPU. With 2,048 CUDA cores, the Quadro M5500 is the world’s fastest mobile GPU. It’s also our first mobile GPU for NVIDIA VR Ready professional mobile workstations, optimized for VR performance with ultra-low latency."
Here are the specs for the WT72 6QN:
- GPU: NVIDIA Quadro M5500 3D (8GB GDDR5)
- CPU Options:
- Xeon E3-1505M v5
- Core i7-6920HQ
- Core i7-6700HQ
- Chipset: CM236
- 64GB ECC DDR4 2133 MHz (Xeon)
- 32GB DDR4 2133 MHz (Core i7)
- Storage: Super RAID 4, 256GB SSD + 1TB SATA 7200 rpm
- 17.3” UHD 4K (Xeon, i7-6920HQ)
- 17.3” FHD Anti-Glare IPS (i7-6700HQ)
- LAN: Killer Gaming Network E2400
- Optical Drive: BD Burner
- I/O: Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 x6, SDXC card reader
- Webcam: FHD type (1080p/30)
- Speakers: Dynaudio Tech Speakers 3Wx2 + Subwoofer
- Battery: 9 cell
- Dimensions: 16.85” x 11.57” x 1.89”
- Weight: 8.4 lbs
- Warranty: 3-year limited
- Xeon E3-1505M v5 model: $6899
- Core i7-6920HQ model: $6299
- Core i7-6700HQ model: $5499
No doubt we will see details of other Quadro VR Ready workstations as GTC unfolds this week.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 11, 2016 - 05:17 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: workstation, standing desk, Lian Li, enclosure, DK-04, desk chassis, CES 2016, CES, aluminum case
Lian Li has introduced a new electronic sit/stand desk chassis, the DK-04, which holds a full system under its tempered glass surface and raises and lowers at the push of a button.
On display at their booth at CES last week, the DK-04 offers a compelling option for someone interested in a standing workstation, with the added benefit of housing a powerful custom rig (and looking really cool in the process).
There is room under the glass desktop (this model does not use a drawer) for up to an ATX motherboard with one dual-slot expansion card, which can be used with a GPU up to 320 mm in length. CPU coolers of up to 120 mm are supported, along with 120 mm width radiators up to 480 mm long.
The front panel offers 4x USB 3.0 ports, RGB lighting controls, and a 5.25-inch optical drive bay; and there is internal storage support for up to 8x 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch hard drives. The entire unit is 47.24 inches wide, 29.53 inches deep, and can be adjusted from approximately 30 - 46 inches in height.
The control panel for the electric height adjustment includes the option for up to 4 presets, allowing the desk to easily adjust to various pre-defined seated and standing positions.
Pricing and availability have yet to be announced, but expect this to come in higher than IKEA's popular solution (which doesn't offer a the functionality of a full PC enclosure inside, of course).
Subject: Motherboards | December 22, 2015 - 11:06 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Xeon E3-1200 V5, workstation, msi, motherboard, Intel C236, C236M Workstation, C236A Workstation
MSI has launched a pair of workstation motherboards based on Intel's C236 chipset, with support for the new 6th-gen "Skylake" Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 processors.
With the C236A Workstation (ATX) and C236M Workstation (Micro-ATX) boards potential system builders will have a lot of flexibility with enclosure size, and both motherboards support ECC DDR4.
"MSI C236 WORKSTATION motherboards are optimized for professional and industrial use. Advanced PCB design, engineered using industry leading standards and the use of the highest quality components passing the most extreme quality validation, the C236A WORKSTATION and C236M WORKSTATION motherboards guarantee the best in performance and reliability. Designed and optimized for NVIDIA® Quadro® and AMD® FirePro graphics cards multi-GPU setups, equipped with unique Steel Armor and optimal PCI Express slot placement ensure great efficiency and perfect stability for heavy duty computing."
The MSI C236A Workstation Motherboard
The specifications of the two motherboards differ in more ways than form-factor, with the biggest feature set coming from the ATX model (C236A):
- Supports Intel Xeon E3 v5 series / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron processors for LGA 1151 socket
- Supports ECC DDR4 Memory
- Supports Nvidia Quadro and AMD FirePro professional graphics cards
- DDR4 Boost
- USB 3.1 Gen2 (Type-C port, ASMedia ASM1142 Chipset)
- Turbo M.2 32Gb/s
- Multi-GPU with Steel Armor PCI-E slots (Supports NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire)
- Intel I219-V Gigabit LAN
- Click BIOS 5
- Military Class 4
- Overvoltage Protection
- Windows 10 Ready
The C236M Workstation Motherboard
The Micro-ATX model (C236M) looks to be more of a budget option, with differences including lack of M.2 support, no USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, and Realtek RTL8111H Gigabit LAN instead of the larger board's Intel NIC. As this is mATX there are only two PCIe slots, which are configured x16/x4.
Pricing and availability were not immediately available.
Introduction and Design
Although the target market and design emphasis may be different, there is one thing consumer and business-grade laptops have in common: a drift away from processing power and toward portability and efficiency. At the risk of repeating our introduction for the massive MSI GT72 gaming notebook we reviewed last month, it seems that battery life, temperature, and power consumption get all the attention these days. And arguably, it makes sense for most people: it’s true that CPU performance gains have in years past greatly outstripped the improvements in battery life, and that likewise performance gains could be realized far more easily by upgrading storage device speed (such as by replacing conventional hard drives with solid-state drives) than by continuing to focus on raw CPU power and clock rates. As a result, we’ve seen many mobile CPU speeds plateauing or even dropping in exchange for a reduction in power consumption, while simultaneously cases have slimmed and battery life has jumped appreciably across the board.
But what if you’re one of the minority who actually appreciates and needs raw computing power? Fortunately, Lenovo’s ThinkPad W series still has you covered. This $1,500 workstation is the business equivalent of the consumer-grade gaming notebook. It’s one of the few designs where portability takes a backseat to raw power and ridiculous spec. Users shopping for a ThinkPad workstation aren’t looking to go unplugged all day long on an airplane tray table. They’re looking for power, reliability, and premium design, with function over form as a rule. And that’s precisely what they’ll get.
Beyond the fairly-typical (and very powerful) Intel Core i7-4800MQ CPU—often found in gaming PCs and workstations—and just 8 GB of DDR3-1600 MHz RAM (single-channel) is a 256 GB SSD and a unique feature to go along with the WQHD+ display panel: built-in X-Rite Pantone color sensor which can be used to calibrate the panel simply by closing the lid when prompted. How well this functions is another topic entirely, but at the very least, it’s a novel idea.