Most often, the question engineers face when choosing a workstation is not “which brand” but “which model”. At Fujitsu, the CELSIUS M740 and CELSIUS R940 create exactly this dilemma: both are powerful desktops which can be customized with powerful graphics and processor configuration options.
Both of these workstations support the latest generation of professional graphics and processors. Both can be packed with memory and storage. Both support additional computing processors for GPU computing. Both are exceptionally quiet yet powerful.
So, if you are in a hurry – and who isn't? - then here is your cheat-sheet.
Now, let's see why that is true and consider some exceptions.
The CELSIUS M740 is a single-CPU muscle-car. It can be loaded with 256 MB of ECC memory, 2 double-wide graphics cards, up to 9 SSD / HDD storage, and your choice of third generation Xeon E5-1600 or E5-2600 CPU. Our system has the newest high-end NVIDIA Quadro K4200 which was launched in August of 2014, 64 GB of 2133 MHz memory, a fast SSD storage device, and an Intel Xeon E5-1620 v3 CPU with 4 cores running at 3.5 GHz.
The CELSIUS R940 is a dual-CPU drag-racer. It has two, fat, fast Intel Xeon E5-2600 or E5-1600 CPUs and can be configured with 512 MB of memory. Like the Celsius M740, it supports 9 storage devices. This dual CPU workstation supports up to 18 cores per CPU for a system maximum of 36 cores. Our system has an NVIDIA Quadro K5200 along with an NVIDIA Grid K2. It is loaded with 64 MB of memory, and has two Intel Xeon E5-2623 v3 processors running at 3.0 GHz.
Both of these workstations support the fastest GPU computing and virtualization products, NVIDIA Tesla and NVIDIA GRID. The CELSIUS M740 supports 2 double-wide graphics cards, and the CELSIUS R940 supports 3 double-wide graphics cards.
This means that both systems are power workstations. With the same options for graphics cards, for GPU-computing and virtualization, for storage capacity, and for memory per CPU, these workstations have more features in common than differences.
These two workstations have a lot in common with regards to the technology on the inside, and they share the same look and feel on the outside. The CELSIUS M740 and the R940 have nearly identical front panels and rear panels. Only the depth of the workstations differ.
The front panel offers 4 USB ports, microphone and headphone connectors, space for an optical drive as several bays. The grate with the Fujitsu logo is a massive fresh air duct for cooling the technology inside the workstation.
The back panel has plenty USB connections, media connectors, and network connectors, exhaust for the power supply and the processors. The side panel has a dedicated exhaust fan for the graphics. The side panel clicks open with a lockable latch providing access to the workstation.
Benchmarking is interesting with 2 similarly configured systems. The CELSIUS M740 has a faster CPU and the CELSIUS R940 has a faster graphics card. We ran our tests using SPEC Viewperf 12 and 3 Autodesk applications for modeling and visualization.
The SPEC Viewperf 12 results are based on frame per second performance (FPS) with the composite numbers above based on a weighted average FPS from multiple data sets. Good results are much more dependent on the GPU than the CPU, so it is normal for a Quadro K5200 with an E5-2633 v3 Intel Xeon running at 3.0 GHz to best a Quadro K4200 with a faster E5-1620 v3 Intel Xeon clocked at 3.5 GHz.
We monitored the work load for the GPU and the CPU during our tests. The typical loading was >95% GPU utilization and a single CPU core running at 100%. SPEC Viewperf 12 is not a benchmark that stresses the parallel computing of a multi-core, multi-processor workstation. In this way, it is useful to evaluate performance for interactive 3D modeling.
Application performance testing was done using Autodesk 3DS MAX to test interactive responsiveness and performance in a 3D modeling environment. We also used two visualization applications, Autodesk Showcase and VRED, to examine real-time hardware rendering performance and raytracing performance.
For each application, we looked at the FPS result and the work load on the GPU and CPU. We used a Ferrari model from GrabCAD as our starting point. It was imported into 3DS MAX and Showcase file formats. We created a model with a single Ferrari, and scaled up the complexity of the scene replicating up to 50 Ferraris.
In SPEC Viewperf 12 we see that the Quadro K5200 is clearly a much faster GPU than the Quadro K4200. In the application tests, the FPS value for the 30 Ferrari model is often the same, or sometimes slightly less on the K5200. The two Xeon E5-2623 CPUs with all those cores don't add performance for interactive modeling and visualization because it runs on a single core. So the M740 with a 3.5 GHz Xeon beats out the R940 with it's 3.0 GHz Xeon processors.
In the application tests, we see that the CPU is the bottleneck with larger models and interactive 3D. While a CPU core is running at 100% to process the model and feed geometry to the GPU, the GPU - both the Quadro K4200 and the Quadro K5200 in this comparison - may be rolling along at a 20% to 40% work load.
The good news in that is this: there is head-room for additional realism in your graphics. Our tests ran at full HD, but 4K monitors are available and affordable so that 2 4K resolution monitors is a perfectly reasonable and very productive workstation configuration today. The extra GPU performance head-room can also be used with more realistic materials, environments, lighting, and physical behavior. Last but not least, the performance and visual quality can be increased by using a GPU-based ray-tracing application.
Remember that the differences in our test configurations above for the graphics, memory (per CPU), and storage are basically irrelevant. Both of the tested GPUs above are available on both the CELSIUS M740 and the Celsius R940. As for CPU choices, Fujitsu has certified slightly different versions of the CPUs for these workstations. They favor the high-core count E5 2600 family for the dual CPU CELSIUS family and the company favors the E5-1600 series of processors, with fewer cores and faster clock speeds. But outside of the slight differences in qualified CPUs, most of the processor options are the same on the two systems. These overlapping configuration similarities are the reason why the "short-cut" in choosing between these workstations applies so well.
Clearly, interactive modeling and visualization doesn't benefit most of the time from many cores or multi-processor configurations. Equally clear, high-end rendering and simulation does benefit from many cores - as many as possible. If your tasks are the former, then chose the CELSIUS M740 and tailor the graphics, CPU, memory, and storage to your projects.
If your tasks are mainly high-end rendering, CAE work, or other non-interactive, computing-intensive applications, then you will want to chose the CELSIUS R940 and load it up with the right configuration options.
There are exceptions to the recommendations above, but very few. Some among our readers will truly have a mix of interactive and computing-intensive tasks - especially CAE projects or animation and rendering projects could fall into this exception. If your workstation is used for interactive design during the day and becomes a simulation workstation or part of a rendering farm at night, you could be best served by the CELSIUS M740 loaded with a many-core Xeon E5-2600 processor running at highest clock-speed possible.
A second important exception would be virtualization. Your remote workstation users may be running interactive modeling and visualization applications, but in this case, the requirement for the multiple CPU option and additional memory can tip the balance in the direction of the CELSIUS R940. This second exception will become more and more common due to the NVIDIA GRID technology for remote workstation graphics performance offered through Fujitsu.
For most readers making a choice between these two powerful systems, the selection of a CELSIUS M740 or a CELSIUS R940 should now be relatively easy. The hard part (and the fun part) will now be selecting the details for your workstation configuration.