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NVIDIA Quadro 2014 family of GPUs power the full range of Lenovo ThinkStations
New NVIDIA Quadro graphics

The latest generation of Quadro graphics launched at Siggraph 2014

Siggraph saw the introduction of NVIDIA's latest technology and these professional GPUs are found in the full line-up of Lenovo's new P-Series of ThinkStations. Let's take a look at the latest update from the graphics specialists.


The latest NVIDIA Quadro professional graphics provide 3D horsepower and extra GPU-computing performance. When NVIDIA unveiled the new Quadro family at Siggraph, CADplace provided an introduction to the new GPUs. 


In the meantime, we came across a nice table that helps position the new products and lets you make a more informed selection.   The specifications in this table can help you understand the relative performance and also easily compare details important to your work-flow such as CUDA cores, on-board memory, and display output options.


The NVIDIA Quadro K-Series GPUs

This table compares the old and new generation of Quadro products. The Lenovo ThinkStation P-series allows you to chose a wide range of Quadro graphics/


If your work-flow fits with a P-series model like the ThinkStation P300, you have choices up to the Quadro K4200 (mini-tower model).  One reason this model of workstation is popular is this wide selection of graphics in a nicely priced package. If your tasks need a lot of 3D performance you can chose a quite powerful Quadro K4200. With nearly double the performance, 33% more graphics memory and faster memory bandwidth compared to the Quadro K4000, this GPU option will provide a nice kick for your 3D work. On the other hand, if your works make fewer demands on the GPU, you can select more modest options and still configure your workstation to be responsive and quick.


What is particularly simple to see in the table are the changes from one generation to the next. The relative performance via computing TFLOPs and the number of CUDA cores as well as the on-board memory and memory bandwidth can be compared instantly.


GPUs are being used more and more with CAE applications. Several software vendors are accelerating their simulation and analysis programs using the power of GPUs for parallel processing. Simulation applications put special demands on a GPU and there are some key features to remember if this is part of your work-flow.


For one, on-board memory is critical. Simulations need to have adequate memory to maintain the data for number-crunching locally. If the application cannot do that, then it will lose performance due to data transfers between the graphics card doing the computing and the workstation memory. Similarly, the memory bandwidth of the graphics card is important.  And finally, the raw computing power - especially double-precision floating point performance - is important.


With this in mind, it is simple to see that the the Quadro K5200 compared to the Quadro K5000 provides a nice increase in performance for all of these criteria.  And when your work-flows combine design, modeling, and analysis, then you can benefit from NVIDIA's support for multiple GPUs in a workstation. Lenovo appears to have designed around this ability. The ThinkStation P500 and P700 can both be configured with 2 of the most powerful NVIDIA Quadro boards. The ThinkStation P900 supports 3 of the most powerful NVIDIA Quadro GPUs in a single workstation.


Naturally, there are other reasons for a multiple GPU configuration. Another example would be multiple 4K display configurations. Additionally, high-end DCC and video editing workstations can benefit from multiple GPUs for both the high-resolution, multiple display support and the GPU-computing performance.


To wrap up this look at the new Quadro GPUs for the ThinkStation P-series, the new generation increases all the performance features. These new products add more value to critical work-flows beyond just CAD and 3D modeling such as CAE analysis and high-end video editing.



The latest GPU technology from NVIDIA powers the ThinkStation P-Series


A new, exclusive, global FirePro distribution partner is big news for AMD.

When AMD purchased ATI years ago, one of the benefits for both companies was having ATI graphics products in AMD's distribution system. The FirePro products received that AMD boost, too, however, the professional graphics products have been managed entirely in-house: ... until October 1st when that changed completely.


Tier 1 AMD partner, Sapphire Technology, is the exclusive, global AMD FirePro distribution partner

AMD has made a critical choice for the professional graphics line. The CPU/GPU experts have selected Sapphire Technology as the global distributor of AMD FirePro graphics products. The company has long been a leading partner for AMD consumer graphics.


Choosing one of their strongest partners for distribution of AMD professional products is an excellent move for AMD. This allows the FirePro team to focus on generating customer demand for their products which will help all AMD customers and sales partners from workstation vendors like HP and Dell to specialist resellers focused on the CAD and design markets.


AMD chose their largest graphics manufacturing partner, Sapphire Technology, to boost their FirePro business globally


Sapphire Technology was founded in 2001 with headquarters in Hong Kong. The company is the largest manufacturer of AMD graphics cards.  The selection of strong worldwide partner for the professional line of GPUs seems like a natural choice. Professional graphics products are sold into technically challenging markets and require no small amount of expertise.

AMD Firepro W8000


In the AMD announcement, the company states "AMD is committed to growth in the professional graphics market, and as we build on the success of AMD FirePro, we sought out a distribution partner that would allow us to broaden our reach...". Using their strongest partner to achieve a broader market for FirePro looks like a smart move. For it's part, Sapphire gains a high-margin product line which should benefits its business.


It is clearly a benefit for both companies. And if the result is a deeper market penetration and broader availability of FirePro GPUs globally, then professional engineering and design customers should come out winners, too.





All around me, it seems, I see people who always want to pay less.


The keyboard is solid and responsive

I like a bargain as much as anyone, but my personal perspective is that I want to pay a fair price.  If like me, you live in a small town, sometimes you don't have the option of spending more money, even though you would like to. Yes, I have sometimes bought items for my day-to-day life at low prices only to not be terribly surprised (but more than a bit upset) when they break or just fail to work.


Usually, there is a good reason something costs a bit more : a better design, better reliability, more, useful features, more robust materials.


It is no different with a professional workstation.


Take any of the name-brand desktop or mobile workstations as an example and you will see the same forces at work. When you start at the entry level, the first think to note is that the price of a professional solution is essentially the same as many non-professional solutions. Yet a Dell Precision T1700 has a robust design, quality components,  professional graphics and is certified for professional applications. All of which create additional costs for Dell, yet you have a proper professional solution for a small premium, and you'll be happy about that when it works every, ... single, ... day, ... without fail. After all, you earn your livelihood with your workstation.


As you move up the workstation product line, you find more examples of better design, better reliability, useful features and robust materials.  The ThinkStation S30 has NVIDIA Quadro graphics for better (faster and more reliable) performance on your professional applications. It supports ECC memory to increase reliability of the memory system as well. The Precision T5600 from  Dell shares those benefits and is a good example of having a better design by providing a dual Xeon system in a compact workstation design. Most vendors then have a top-of-the-line, high-performance, high-capacity workstation like an HP Z820, a Precision T7600, or a ThinkStation D30. These systems offer maximum capacities for memory, graphics, computing power, and storage. There are many benefits in the mobile workstation designs, too. Go ahead and spill your coffee on the ThinkPad W530 keyboard, it will flow right through and not kill your system. Or just try to break the glass on the practically indestructible display of the Precision M6700 Covet Edition. These are robust systems!


Yes, sometimes we should be happy to pay a little bit more.

Intel Turbo Boost Technology probably won't help your rendering performance, but a dual CPU workstation will

I recently saw an interesting inquiry on CADplace.  A visitor was looking to see how Intel's Turbo Boost technology might help rendering performance.


As I state above, the odds are that Turbo Boost won't do anything for your rendering performance. And here is why.


Turbo Boost is a great marketing name given to a technique to optimize the performance of a multi-core CPU based on its thermal limits - in other words, how hot it can get - and maximum power draw.  Before the days of multi-core and many-core CPUs, Intel did not have this issue at all. 


Intel Xeon E5 Family

The new Intel Xeon E5 processors support Turbo Boost 2.0 Technology

Let's say you have a new Intel Xeon E5 processor like the new ThinkStation D30 supports. Without Turbo Boost, all the cores are running. Eight cores consuming power, eight cores producing heat. The Intel CPU runs within it's specifications for heat and power consumption. But the important limit is peak power and peak thermal limits.  If your ThinkStation is running a single threaded application, then fewer cores will be used, the Intel processors detects that and doesn't use all the cores in the CPU - which means that it has some reserves for power and heat. Now the CPU can automatically over-clock the active cores in the CPU a known amount and still remain within the power and the thermal limits.


OK. Hopefully that makes sense. Now why is that probably not going to help your rendering performance? Simple : almost all modern rendering programs are extremely multi-threaded and will use a lot of cores. In fact, if you do a lot of rendering, then you probably already need a dual socket ThinkStation like the D30 or the C30. 


Since rendering will use all the cores, Turbo Boost will not be dynamically activated, and you will not see a difference from it.  But don't feel bad - your software is probably loading the CPU to its maximum capacity. With rendering applications, you can be certain that a high-performance, 8-core Xeon processor will be giving you the best performance possible. With or without Turbo Boost.


And Intel Turbo Boost Technology will help you - when your workstation is being overloaded with computational workloads which, unlike rendering, cannot be efficiently spread over multiple cores. This arises often in CAD or design tools. In those moments, the Turbo Boost 2.0 technology will let you squeeze that extra power and speed out of your new workstation. The best part is that you do not need to worry - it all happens dynamically and automatically.


Update : June 2013,  let me add some information to this entry after the fact. I recently did some very specific dual Xeon performance testing. With the Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 technology used on the systems I tested, the CPU clock speeds were raised even during highly parallel computing such as video or graphics rendering and with all the cores in the system being pushed to 100% utilization. Typically, I noticed 100MHz and sometimes 200MHz clock speed increases in these situations. So while the above logic of 1 core vs many cores and the functioning of Turbo Boost is still valid, in fact, it is possible - yes, a little bit anyway - for Turbo Boost to improve rendering and other multi-core, multi-threaded application performance. 


The Lenovo line-up of desktop systems has been refreshed with the latest technology inside and with new designs outside. Let's start with a look at the processors - latest options for the Intel Xeon E5 1660 & 2600 CPUs. Then there is support for professional graphics from NVIDIA - including the new Maximus Technology combining Quadro workstation graphics with Telsa GPU computing cards. The data autobahn inside has more (up to 256GB) and faster (1600MHz DDR3) memory combined with USB 3.0 for much faster overall data-transfer rates.


The ThinkStation C30 packs a Dual-socket design into an incredibly small package. The format works great for the financial services being restricted on space, but also for CAD engineers, designers and digital artists & animators as the C30 supports the Quadro 6000 graphics as well as a combination of Quadro + Tesla for GPU rendering and computing power simultaneously. And 128GB of memory to handle some of the most demanding work.


What about unlimited power? The ThinkStation D30 delivers it. This workstation uses the latest Xeon E5 2600 processors and can sport 2 Quadro 6000 professional graphics cards. And the D30 will take up to 16 DIMMS for immense capacity.


Of course the Lenovo ThinkStation S30 is exactly what professionals in CAD need for a professional, optimized and certified workstation. It is a single-socket workstation supporting the same Xeon E5 1600 & 2600 processors, both Quadro and Tesla GPU solutions, and is tested and certified for professional applications.


It looks like a good line-up from the workstation experts at Lenovo !


You will find more Lenovo information on CADplace and the Lenovo press release as well.

 Professional workstations along the hardware and software solutions developed around them, help engineers, architects, and designers create some of the best products in the world.

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