Whenever new hardware is released, they always come with cool names and Intel’s latest Xeon Phi chip’s don’t disappoint with the name Knights Landing (any Game of Thrones fan spot the possible reference?). While not designed for desktops the next step of Colfax’s Ninja desktops will make sure of these supercomputing chips.
Be warned the extra power will come at a cost, with costs from Colfax’s website starting at $4,983 (around £3,508) for the base configuration. Featuring a 240GB SSD, a 4TB hard drive and a staggering 96GB of DDR4 memory the computer could easily let you get on with your daily YouTube and emailing while loading up the computer with two 1.6TB SSDs and two 6TB hard drives will jump the price to $7,577. With everything liquid cooled and two-gigabit ethernet ports, you don’t need to worry about overheating or slow network traffic.
Workstations are typically used for graphically intense operations such as film editing, graphics manipulation or engineering applications but with process heavy software coming out with the likes of virtual and augmented reality, people are looking at getting greater computing power like those offered by workstations for everyday use.
With 8Gb GDDR5 modules becoming ever more abundant, AMD and Nvidia have the opportunity to increase the amount of VRAM without having to bump the memory bandwidth. While 8Gb may be well enough for gaming purposes for now, the same doesn’t hold true for professional users. In light of this, AMD has updated their FirePro W9100 workstation graphics card with a 32GB variant.
Due to the large memory bus on the Hawaii chip, FirePro cards had held the top VRAM buffer size with their 16GB W9100 for quite a while. Nvidia only recently triumphed with the 24GB Quadro M6000 which was only possible with 8Gb modules. With the 32GB card, AMD has reclaimed their capacity crown, maintaining their lead in terms of both compute performance and highest VRAM size. Except for the $1000 higher price tag, the W9100 32GB is the same as the 16GB variant.
With both AMD and Nvidia choosing to lead into the new generation with lower end cards, we may see the W9100 and M6000 stick around for a while yet. With Nvidia making compute a priority again with Pascal, it remains to see who will win the enterprise and professional market for the next generation, but AMD has undoubtedly clinched the victory for 28nm.
Today’s motherboard review lands right in the middle of everything. Not because it’s all over the place, but because it has a lot of usage scenarios and support for pretty much any setup. You could use ASRock’s E5V5 WS motherboard in a gaming system as well as in a server setup as both of those setups are fully supported, but its real area of operation is to act as the base for a powerful workstation.
The ASRock E5V5 WS uses an LGA 1151 socket and the board is compatible with both E3-1200 v5 processors such as the one I’ll be using later on in this review, but it also supports normal 6th Generation Intel Core processors – so basically the entire Skylake and Skylake-S line-up. As backbone behind the CPU that you end up using is the Intel C232 chipset that is perfectly tuned for workstation environments and a motherboard like this. Memory wise you can use normal DDR4 DIMMs as well as ECC UDIMM memory modules with a speed of up to 2133 MHz in the four DIMM slots with 15μ gold contacts for a total of up to 64GB RAM.
The gold contacts in the memory slots aren’t the only quality feature in this motherboard. The E3V5 WS motherboard is part of ASRock’s Super Alloy series and comes with premium 50A power chokes and is made of a high-density glass fabric PCB. It also features ASRock’s full spike protection that protects from sudden surges, lightning, and electrostatic discharges (ESD).
The network connection isn’t controlled by the average low-performance controller either and we find an Intel PHY i219LM controller on this motherboard. The Gigabit Ethernet controller supports Wake-On-LAN, supports 802.3az energy efficient ethernet and PXE. The Ethernet controller is one of the parts that is protected by the Full Spike Protection. The second part with protection is the USB. The ASRock E35 WS features two USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports on the rear panel and you can connect another four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports via headers. All of these are protected by the ASRock Full Spike Protection. The audio is also protected by this and we find a 7.1 channel HD Audio controller, the Realtek ALC892. It features Blu-ray audio support and uses ELNA solid audio capacitors. Last but not least, you also find legacy PS2 connectors for both your mouse and keyboard.
Internally we find good expansion options too. Since we are dealing with an Intel-based motherboard, we also get IRST for RAID setups across the six SATA3 6 Gb/s connectors. Supported modes include the normal RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 modes.
There are two PCIe Gen3 x16 slots that support both Nvidia Quadro and AMD FirePro workstation graphics cards as well as consumer graphics cards. There is also full support for the use of AMD’s CrossfireX technology for multiple graphics card usage. As I mentioned earlier, you can make a great workstation with this motherboard. There are three more PCIe Gen3 x1 slots available for further expansion and neither of them will be blocked by the use of two-slot graphics cards. Even with a CrossfireX setup, you’ll still have access to the three x1 slots.
Quality hardware and components are just one side of the story, we also need a good BIOS and proper software to have the best experinece. The E3V5 WS comes with both of those features too. The UEFI BIOS has the easy EZ mode dashboard besides the advanced setup pages, which contains multiple readings of the system’s current status. You can check the most crucial information of your system, such as CPU speed, DRAM frequency, SATA information, fan speed, etc.
Even better, you can reach the tech support purely from the systems BIOS, as long as the system has an internet connection. You can also install LAN drivers onto your windows installation directly from the BIOS.
The ASRock OMG (Online Management Guard) technology allows you to establish an internet curfew or restrict internet access at specified times for your kids. Stay in control of their surfing times without yelling. This probably isn’t the most used function in a workstation system, but it could be used to shut down any connection attempts outside of office hours. Another useful feature is the USB Key function that can replace the password question when you log into windows. Do it by plugging a USB drive in instead.
The well-known ASRock XFast RAM and XFast LAN are also built into this motherboard. The XFast RAM feature allows you to fully utilize the memory space that otherwise can’t be accessed in 32-bit systems, among others. XFast LAN is a quality of service protocol that prioritizes the important traffic so you don’t have to wait for loading times. ASRock Live Update and APP Shop also help to make the maintenance easier.
The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers product page and can as such be subject to changes in future revisions of the product.
The move to developing chips with an ever-increasing number of cores allows them to cater to the needs of cloud and mobile service providers, whose servers make full use of multiple cores and processing threads to allow more video and applications to be streamed from a single server simultaneously. The chips also provide benefits in workstation usage. When combined with a powerful graphics processor, it will be able to assist in the development of cutting-edge, high-quality experiences such as virtual reality applications and 4K video editing.
The Xeon E5-2600 v4 lineup includes 27 different chips, all based on the new Broadwell microarchitecture. Broadwell offers a number of improvements which allows these new chips to offer as much as a 5% increase in speed over previous generation Haswell architecture chips. According to tests run by Dell using SAP benchmarks on a Linux OS, the new chips were observed to be as much as 28% faster than their predecessors. The main issue with chips packing so many cores is cooling as a result, the frequency of the top-line 22-core Xeon E5-2699 v4 has had to be set to 2.2 GHz, where it still draws 145 watts of power.
Of course, these chips aren’t for the average consumer, with the prices for these new chips peaking at $4,115 for the 22 core model. For their largest customers, Intel is even willing to deliver customized versions of these new Xeons, which we can be sure will hold an even heftier price tag.
Intel recently released their Greenlow based Skylake series Xeon CPUs and it’s a pleasure to take a look at the first enterprise-grade motherboard built for these processors today. I have Supermicro’s X11SAE motherboard on the test bench which is a standard ATX-sized single CPU board, but one with all the trimmings.
“Supermicro’s new X11 UP workstations, long-life embedded systems and motherboards integrate the latest technologies such as USB 3.1 and M.2 as well as step up performance, density and efficiency to provide a new generation of Green Computing solutions,” said Charles Liang, President and CEO of Supermicro. “Indeed, with Supermicro’s first-to-market integration, advanced engineering and architecture expertise, we deliver the widest range of Skylake-S platforms available to the industry, enabling our customers with exactly the best competitive advantage on the market.”
Supermicro’s X11SAE doesn’t just support the new Greenlow Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 family CPUs, you can also use 6th Gen Core i7, i5, i3, Pentium, and Celeron series processors. The brain behind the motherboard is the new C236 chipset which comes with a lot of enhancements over the predecessors and Supermicro generally added the newest technologies to this motherboard. Additionally, the motherboard supports up to 64GB DDR4 2133MHz ECC UDIMMs in its 4 sockets. While this motherboard does support ECC and non-ECC modules, it doesn’t support RDIMMS, so make sure you get the right ones.
There are plenty of storage features on this motherboard with the eight native SATA3 6 Gbps ports provided directly by the chipset. The ports support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 for that extra spice in your storage setup and the motherboard also has two SuperDOM ports with built-in power. You’ll also find a next-gen PCIe M.2 slot beside the default SATA3 ports, allowing you to get that extra speed. The M.2 slot doesn’t support AHCI modules, but 2242, 2260, and 2280 PCIe modules will run at a great speed thanks to the x4 slot.
Further expansion can be added through the two PCI-E 3.0 x16 and three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots. The Supermicro X11SAE also features two legacy 5V PCI 32-bit slots for use with older hardware despite the upgrade to the newest platform.
Externally the X11SAE has two Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 LAN ports where one is powered by an Intel i210-AT and the other is powered by an Intel i219LM chip. There’s also a DVI, a DisplayPort, and an HDMI out for use when processors with iGPU are inserted into the motherboard. Further, you’ll find two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.1 ports on the rear IO area. The USB 3.1 ports sport the increased bandwidth and power which allows it to run with up to 10Gbps.
Internally you can connect an additionally four USB 3.0 and size USB 2.0 ports. The motherboard also features two COM port headers, an ALC 888S 7.1 HD Audio chip, a TPM 1.2 header, and much more.
A workstation motherboard also needs a good set of monitoring abilities. You can connect up to five PWM fans with status monitor for speed control, on/off settings, and tachometer. The temperature monitoring includes the CPU and chassis environment as well as CPU thermal trip support and I2C temperature sensing logic and Thermal Monitor 2 (TM2) support.
As a Supermicro motherboard, we also have the benefits of their SuperDoctor 5 software that monitors system health of hardware and operating system services from the target nodes in real-time and provides alerts to administrators on the availability of systems in data centers.
The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers product page and can as such be subject to changes in future revisions of the product.
Single socket H4 (LGA 1151) supports: Intel Xeon processor E3-1200 v5, Intel 6th Gen. Core i7/i5/i3 series, Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium
Intel C236 chipset
Up to 64GB Unbuffered ECC/non-ECC, UDIMM DDR4 2133MHz; 4x DIMM slots
2 PCI-E 3.0 x16 (run at 16/NA or 8/8), 3 PCI-E 3.0 x1 (in x4), and 2 5V PCI 32-bit slots
Single GbE LAN with Intel i210-AT, Single GbE LAN with Intel i219LM
6x USB 3.0 (2 rear + 4 via header), 8x USB 2.0 (2 rear + 6 via headers), 2x USB 3.1 (10Gbps, rear)
Packaging and Accessories
The Supermicro X11SAE comes in a neutral package and that’s all that’s needed for a board like this. It isn’t one you’ll find on a shelve in the local store while browsing around, it’s one your order because you know it’s the one you want. There’s still a sticker on the side that will tell you what’s inside and what the base specifications are.
The rear of the box explains a little bit about the series of motherboards which this one is part off. You get basic information about the series as well as a quick view of optimized chassis and systems.
Inside the box we find four SATA3 cables and the IO shield next to the motherboard itself.
Lenovo first unveiled their Yoga P40 mobile workstation on December first and around two weeks later they revealed the specifications, at least some of them. When a new product like this is being introduced, we usually only get the top end specifications and not all options available. Top of the line is awesome, but it might simply be too much for some users, both performance and price wise.
I’ve long been on the search for a new mobile workstation to suit my needs, plenty of power, mobility, and universal usage, but there wasn’t such a product on the market. The Microsoft Surface Book came close, but I was seriously disappointed in the specifications and low-end hardware they used. Especially considering the premium asking price of the Surface Book. When Lenovo unveiled the P40, I saw my rescue and have since been waiting for it while scouting for more details.
Initially we got a starting price of $1399 USD at the same time as they revealed the specification. It was clear right away that this wasn’t the price for the model with the revealed specifications. Today, or rather yesterday, I finally discovered the first shop listing of the new Yoga P40 that both provide us with an estimate on a European price, some more specification details, as well as a possible release date.
The initial specifications were a QuadroM500M graphics card, 6th-generation Core i7 processor, 512GB SSD, and 16GB RAM as well as an optional LTE version. Thanks to the first product listings we can elaborate a little more on that.
The 14-inch Lenovo P40 2-in-1 mobile workstation will come with either an i7-6500U or i7-6600U processor and either 8 or 16GB RAM. The SSD isn’t 512 GB in all models either and there will be options with a 256GB SSD instead. So far only models with FullHD resolution have been listed, but there should also come a version with a 1440p display instead.
The first listings come from two different shops which both are located in Poland and both revealed the same information. The prices start at about €1817.00 for an i7-6500U with 8GB RAM and 256GB HDD and goes up to about €2380.00 for an i7-6600U with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD. The product listings aren’t complete, but they do give us some more insight into these pretty cool mobile workstations.
While the release date on the Yoga P40 wasn’t listed for either of the shops, there are hints towards when we can expect to see it. Lenovo only revealed that it would be released in Q1 2016, but not when. The official ThinkPad Pen Pro for the Yoga P40 does however have an estimated delivery time set for 3 weeks. While that doesn’t mean that the Yoga P40 will ship at the same time, it makes little sense to sell a stylus for a product that isn’t on the market yet. So fingers crossed if you’re looking to buy one of these sweet machines. The waiting time should be over soon.
MSI already has a line of mobile workstations and it looks like they would like a bigger piece of the workstation pie as they’ve just introduced two new workstation motherboards based on Intel’s latest Greenlow platform and C230 series chipsets. The two new motherboards are the MSI C236A WORKSTATION and the MSI C236M WORKSTATION where the difference in the two is the size and a PCI Express connector more or less.
The C236A is a full-sized ATX motherboard while the C236M is an mATX version instead that naturally lacks one of the PCI Express slots due to the size limitations. Naturally the boards are designed for the use of Nvidia Quadro and AMD FirePro graphics cards in both single and multi-GPU scenarios. The PCI-E slots also got the Steel Armor treatment for better stability.
MSI also added some of their other well-known features such as DDR4 Boost, Military Class 4 components, Audio Boost, Intel Gigabit LAN and Click BIOS 5. There are plenty of storage options too including the newest Turbo M.2, Turbo U.2 and SATA Express connectors. You will also find the new reversible USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port on the IO area.
That is what we know of MSI’s new Workstation motherboards so far. The press release didn’t reveal much and the product pages don’t appear to be online yet. I am however sure that we will find out a lot more coming CES in Vegas January 2016.
Typically larger and more expensive than a typical desktop, workstations are typically used for processing-intensive tasks such as high-quality computer generated graphics, film editing and for computations and modelling in the science and engineering fields. Due to these professional applications, they also require more processing power, often using high-end desktop chips or even server chips like Intel’s Xeon. This new Knight’s Landing chip will be based on the Xeon Phi architecture, of which the current generation chips are used in systems such as Tianhe-2, the world’s most powerful supercomputer.
The aim of bringing these powerful chips to workstations as well as supercomputers is an experiment in making supercomputing available to researchers without access to a full-scale supercomputer to run computation on, or to allow writing and testing of code intended for Xeon Phi-based supercomputers before deployment to the supercomputer itself. And while current workstations make use of discrete coprocessors alongside production CPUs in order to supplement their power, Knight’s Landing will run both the main processor and coprocessing units on one chip, in concert, the system will be able to provide over 3 teraflops at peak.
While the idea of 72-cores on a processor may boggle the mind of most PC users used to between 2 and 8 cores, Knight’s Landing runs more like a modern graphics card, of which the top end chips have multiple thousands of single purpose cores. Further, Knight’s Landing possesses 16GB of MCDRAM, of which is claims has 5-times the bandwidth of consumer DDR4 RAM as well as lower power draw and higher density than GDDR5.
Intel will be handling initial distribution of these new workstations themselves, hoping to extend sales of the workstations and maybe even desktop variants through other partner companies. These machines will be far more limited than typical PCs, however due to the chip being highly integrated into the rest of the system and the OS and other tools being pre-loaded by Intel. And while this seems like it could bring a new face to desktop computing, Intel claims that currently the rollout is more of an experiment than an attempt to do so. The ambition is definitely there, though, after the dropping of its Larrabee chip back in 2010. This is just the start, Intel already has plans for the successor to Knight’s Landing, Knight’s Hill.
Could the future be a supercomputer in all of our homes be more real than we think? If Knight’s Landing succeeds in its experimental release, we could be seeing chips of this calibre on the consumer market all-too-soon; an exciting idea for sure!
The way we work has changed a lot over the years, with desk jobs becoming more and more popular. It’s common knowledge that sitting at a desk for hours at a time every day can have adverse effects on our health, and the worse part is that sometimes we don’t have a choice if we want to maintain decent levels of productivity. It’s not exactly easy to find a replacement for the standard desk, but we have stumbled upon this awesome workstation that allows its user to work in a very comfortable position. Created by a Sonova Valley-based company named Altwork, the Altwork Station is a versatile product that supports a variety of working positions, including lying down. Aimed at designers, writers and programmers, the workstation features four operating modes, namely Standing, Collaboration, Regular and Focus.
In Focus mode, the chair takes on a completely horizontal position while the desk and monitor adjust accordingly. Peripherals are kept in place on the desk using magnets, and the user is able to work in a very relaxing posture. It might take a bit of getting used to, but this is definitely better for your health when compared to a regular sitting stance. Unfortunately, the workstation is rather large, which means that companies probably won’t be able to buy it in bulk and assemble it in regular offices for employees. It’s definitely worth purchasing if you’re working from home, but you would have to be prepared to spend $3,900, and this is only if you manage to buy one from the first run. The full price of the Altwork Station is going to be $5,900, which is not exactly cheap.
GIGABYTE is ready for the new Intel Xeon E3 1200 V5 processors and they’re releasing four new motherboards for them today, all based on the new Intel C230 series chipsets. The new addition to the lineup consists of two workstation motherboards and two server motherboards. The new 14nm Skylake microarchitecture CPUs bring some new features to the single socket motherboards, mainly the switch to DDR4 memory with increased speed and maximum capacity. The other main new feature is the increase of the number and speed of PCIe lanes available from up to 8 Gen2 lanes to up to 20 Gen3 lanes.
The first new workstation motherboard is the MW31-SP0 and it comes in the normal ATX form factor. It features dual Intel Gigabit LAN with expansion abilities through the mezzanine card slot that can be used for additional network connections, but also for an extra M.2 slot or Thunderbolt port. It supports 2-way SLI and CrossFireX and has the 8 SATA3 ports that the chipset provides. Additionally it also has an M.2 storage port and onboard audio with 5 audio jacks and S/PDIF out on the rear plus onboard headers. You can pack this motherboard with up to 64GB DDR4 ECC memory.
The second workstation motherboard is the MW21-SE0 and it is a microATX form factor board intended for entry-level builds. With minimal specifications, it’s perfect for users looking for a simple and affordable yet highly durable solution to access the features of the new Xeon family.
The MW21-SE0 features a single Gigabit Ethernet LAN port, four USB 3.0 ports, a COM port, and a D-Sub VGA connector. You can connect up to six SATA3 drives to the onboard connectors. This motherboard can also equip up to 64GB ECC memory.
The GIGABYTE MX11-PC0 is a compact NVMe enabled server board designed for high density or low-profile server integration. The component placement is rackmount optimized and there are plenty of features despite the small size.
It is the first GIGABYTE server motherboard to be released with a mini-SAS HD connector capable of connecting to one NVMe drive. With higher IOPS, lower latency, and lower power consumption, the NVMe technology is perfect for this scenario. It features two Intel i210 Gigabit Ethernet controllers, four SATA3 ports and an onboard AST2400 for remote management (IPMI).
The MX31-BS0 is an entry-level microATX server board with rackmount optimized component placement and all the features required to integrate a standard server system based on the new Intel Xeon CPUs. It features two Intel GbE LAN ports, one M.2 slot, six SATA3 ports, and onboard IPMI 2.0 via an AST2400 chip. So despite being called an entry-level motherboard, it features quite a lot.
Intel released the new Greenlow platform with Skylake chips and chipset. ASRockRack is ready with three new motherboards based on the new architecture and the three motherboards also come in three different sizes. The C236WS is a full-sized ATX motherboard, the C236MWS is a Micro-ATX sized motherboard, and the last one is called the C236WSI and it is also the smallest being an mITX sized motherboard.
The C236 chipset brings a better memory speed, more SATA3 ports, more PCIe 3.0 lanes, and USB3.0. All this should be a big up over the old processors and the motherboards are ready to provide it all.
The ASRock Rack C236WS is a full-sized ATX motherboard with a single LGA 1151 H4 socket with support for Intel’s Xeon E3-1200 v5 series processors. It offers dual-channel DDR4 memory support with speeds up to 2133MHz and support for both ECC and non-ECC UDIMM in its four slots. The motherboard comes with 8 SATA3.0 ports and dual Intel LAN (i210 and i219). Users get two PCIe 3.0 x 16 slots, one PCIe 3.0 x8 slot, and two PCIe 3.0 x4 slots on this motherboard. There are also two legacy PCI slots available. The IO features four USB3.0, one HDMI, one DVI and one VGA connector.
The Micro-ATX C236MWS motherboard features almost the same things as the full-sized ATX version, just on a more compact PCB. The biggest difference is the PCI slot layout and you get two PCIe 3.0 (x16/x0 or x8/x8), one PCIe 3.0 x4, and one M.2 slot/PCIex1 Co-Layout.
The C236WSI takes the whole thing down another notch and we have arrived at the Mini-ITX form factor. We only get two memory slots here and we are also down to a single PCIe 3.0 x16 slot.
AMD might be in the process of restructuring their business and employees, but we shouldn’t forget the great products that they have on the market and are bringing to the market right now. AMD announced that Dell’s new Precision 3510, 7510, and 7710 mobile workstations are powered by AMD’s FirePro mobile GPUs to give you all the power that you need while on the go. With AMD FirePro W7170M, W5170M, and W5130M professional graphics, you got a powerful and reliable platform for advanced Computer-Aided Design, Computer-Aided Manufacturing, and Computer-Aided Engineering software.
AMD’s FirePro graphics cards pack quite the punch. The FirePro W7170m comes with an engine clock of 723 MHz, 4GB GDDR5 memory that runs at 1250MHz for a bandwidth of 160GB/s. It has a single precision compute throughput of 2960 GFLOPS and 185 GFLOPS double precision. The memory runs on a 256-bit interface and it is fully DirectX 12 compatible.
The FirePro W5170M and W5130M aren’t quite as powerful, but still impressive on their own. Both have an engine clock of 925 MHz and up to 2GB GDDR5 memory that runs at 1GHz and on a 128-bit interface. The W5130M has up to 64GB/s memory bandwidth and the W5170M is a little faster with up to 72 GB/s bandwidth. When it comes to peak precision compute throughput, the W5130M does up to 950 GFLOPS single and 59.4 GFLOPS double while the W5170 does 1180 GFLOPS single and 73.8 GFLOPS double.
The other hardware in the Dell Precision mobile workstations isn’t without either. Up to 4TB of storage, Intel Xeon processors, and 64GB of RAM are just some of them. The 7710 is a 17-inch notebook while the other two come with 15-inch screens. The Dell Precision 7710, 7510, and 3510 will set you back about $1,699 7710 (about £1,123), at $1,199 (about £792) and $999 (about £660) respectively
When we think small and compact systems, we usually think in the direction of HTPCs or low-powered LAN rigs, but there are a lot more possibilities with today’s hardware and BOXX proves that with their impressive new and very compact workstation dubbed the APEXX 1.
The APEXX 1 is the smallest workstation coming from BOXX and it packs quite an impressive punch for its tiny measurements. It is less than 5 inches wide, 8.5 inches tall, and 9 inches deep, which has been achieved thanks to the in-house developed and built chassis.
There are two new models available in the APEXX series, the first is i7 based and the second is Xeon based. The i7 systems features an 8-core CPU overclocked to 4GHz and up to 32GB DDR4 memory while the Xeon E5 model comes with up to 18 cores and up to 64GB DDR4 memory. Overclocked Skylake models will be available at the end of the month too.
When it comes to the graphics card used, you got the choice between both of the two rivals in the workstation market. Whether you need an NVIDIA Quadro or an AMD FirePro graphics card, you can get both.
The system is using a duality of liquid cooling as well as a blower fan to provide optimal cooling for the entire system. An important aspect in such a tiny system and especially considering the power that these systems pack. The closed-loop AIO cooler is maintenance free as we’re used to and the system doesn’t require any more than a little de-dusting now and then.
Storage wise you can get the best of the best too. You can go with an optional M.2 PCI-Express NVMe drive or use the two dual 2.5-inch bays for more traditional SATA3 drives such as SSDs and HDDs. Although I don’t know who would put a mechanical drive in a beautiful and modern system like this.
There are plenty of USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 ports available so you can attach all the external storage that you want. It also features eSATA, USB 2.0, and a dual PS2 connector. Gigabit Ethernet is also present and so is a 7.1 channel sound card with S/PDIF Out. The PSU is external and is among the reasons why this system can be so tiny despite its power.
If one system shouldn’t be enough for your workplace or you need extra rendering power, then you can easily stack these system thanks to the four bumpers available when placed on its side. The upcoming renderPRO 1 can also be stacked right on top and it fits like a glove.
The system comes with either Windows or Linux and it is backed by a 3-year warranty, one year of 24/7 phone support and next business day onsite service for US and Canadian customers. The price will depend on your configuration and model of the APEXX 1, but I have no doubt that it will be worth it.
Today I’m taking a look at a motherboard for those that need that extra bit of power behind the curtains for heavy workstation or server tasks. The Supermicro X10DAX is aimed at workstations, but it would work well as a basis for a server as well with the features at hand. In the end, as always, it comes down to what tasks the system has to perform.
Supermicro’s X10DAX is a dual CPU motherboard with plenty of memory and multi-GPU support. The motherboard supports up to 1TB ECC DDR4 2133MHz LRDIMM memory over its 16 DIMM memory banks as well as Triple-SLI setup or Quadro-SLI with dual-GPU graphics cards. Those who will use RDIMMs instead of LRDIMMs will be limited to 512GB maximum memory capacity.
The motherboard supports up to two processors from the Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 family thanks to the Dual Socket R3 (LGA 2011). That means up to 18 cores and 45MB cache per processor which in return equals a lot of power. The chipset is the Intel C612 which by itself provides a lof of features and enhancements over the predecessor.
One of the unique features on this motherboard versus its brothers is the overclocking features thanks to the BCLK settings in the BIOS and Supermicro has dubbed this Hyper-Speed on their motherboards. This will allow you to get that extra power from your system when it is needed and if it is needed. A great bonus that surely will be appreciated by many of the people purchasing this motherboard. Next to the Hyper-Speed technology, the Supermicro X10DAX also includes Hyper-Turbo mode which allows more power to be delivered to the CPUs and thereby maximize the CPU Turbo Mode frequency.
Supermicro also made sure that the motherboard is Thunderbolt 2 ready, but that’s an optional add-on you’ll have to get. Since this is a workstation board, it also comes with an onboard sound card. It could, for example, get a pretty hard job to edit videos without sound. The Supermicro X10DAX provides onboard 7.1 channel HD audio for just that reason.
Storage connection isn’t a problem either and we don’t have to pay for an extra SAS controller here that we probably don’t need in a workstation. Ten SATA3 ports, of which two supports SuperDOMs, should be plenty for your storage needs. If you need more than that, you’ll most likely have a server located somewhere anyway and thus eliminating the need again. You also get a Type-A USB 2.0 connector on the motherboard, placed right next to the SATA connectors. Since the SATA3 ports are controlled by Intel’s C612 chipset, we have RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 at our disposal on this board.
Dual Gigabit LAN is included thanks to a couple of Intel i210 network controllers, but we don’t find any dedicated IPMI on this motherboard. The PCI Express connectors available are three PCI-E 3.0 x16, two PCI-E 3.0 x8, and one PCI-E 2.0 x4 (in x8).
With such an amount of power at our disposal, we also need proper cooling. The Supermicro X10DAX has eight 4-pin fan headers that support tachometer monitors, status monitoring, and PWM fans. There are no dedicated CPU fan headers, so you can use any two of the eight for that.
The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers homepage and are as such subject to change in possible future revisions.
Supports 3-way Geforce SLI
Supports 4-way SLI support with dual GPU graphics cards
Dual socket R3 (LGA 2011) supports Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 family; QPI up to 9.6GT/s
Intel C612 chipset
16x DIMM slots for up to 1TB ECC DDR4 2133MHz memory
3 PCI-E 3.0 x16, 2 PCI-E 3.0 x8, and 1 PCI-E 2.0 x4 (in x8) slot
Intel i210 Dual port GbE LAN
10x SATA3 (6Gbps) ports (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)
6x USB 3.0 (4 rear, 2 via header), 5x USB 2.0 (2 rear, 2 via header, 1 Type A)
7.1 HD Audio with optical S/PDIF
Packaging and Accessories
The box for the Supermicro X10DAX is a default layout for the entire line-up and as such presents key features from all boards. While we can spot such things as 40GbE here, we won’t find it on this board.
The rear of the box details the different boards from Supermicro in this category for easy comparison.
Inside the box, next to the motherboard itself, we find six SATA3 cables and an IO shield with proper padding and yet unopened ports. Remember to only pop the ones that the motherboard actually has.
Included is also a Quick Start Guide that will show you the headers and jumper positions, how to install your memory depending on the amount of modules you are using, as well as front header layout and other vital information for installation.
Gigabyte’s motherboard series based on the Intel C612 chipset is quite an impressive one and I’ve already had the pleasure to test the MU70-SU0 server motherboard. Today I’m taking a look at its bigger brother, the dual socket Gigabyte MW70-3S0 workstation motherboard.
The Gigabyte MW70-3S0 workstation motherboard is based around Intel’s C612 chipset and offers you two LGA 2011-3 sockets with support for Intel’s Xeon E5-2600 V3 processors as well as 16 DDR4 modules for a total of up to 768GB RAM. The MW70-3S0 is a workstation board and as such it offers some other features than server boards, such as Multi-GPU configuration. With support for up to three graphics cards in CrossfireX or SLI via the three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots and coupled with the CPU and memory support will make sure that we don’t run out of performance anytime soon.
One of the really great things about this board’s memory support is that it supports the full speed of 2133MHz, even when all 12 memory banks are populated. In the past, you had to make the choice, whether you wanted capacity or speed. Gigabyte made sure that you’ll have a maximum speed on all memory banks at all times.
We also get plenty of storage abilities on Gigabyte’s MW70-3S0. Not only does it provide 10 SATA3 ports via the Intel C612 chipset where two of them support SATA DOMs, we also get an LSI SAS 3008 onboard controller with two Mini-SAS ports for eight SAS 12GB/s drives. The SATA ports support RAID 0/1/5/10 while the SAS ports support RAID 0/1/1E/10. The connectivity is secured by two Intel i210 Gigabit Ethernet ports that allow for easy trunking and link aggregation.
Overall, this board is built with quality components that should make sure that everything runs stable and for a long time. It is equipped with IR Digital PWM and IR PowIRstage IC controllers to guarantee a stable operating environment and OS-CON capacitors with a minimum service life of 50.000 hours. The installed chokes are high-end ferrite core chokes that again should help deliver a stable power to both CPU and memory.
The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers homepage and are as such subject to change in possible future revisions.
The box follows a very simple design and is perfect for the market it’s aimed at. There is no need for fancy artwork like we’re used to on consumer motherboards.
The rear of the box gives a little detail about 3 key points that are important to a board of this caliber including reliability, availability, and serviceability. These are all major factors for any IT admin needing a reliable product with quality components that is easy to set up and maintain.
Inside the box, we find anything we need to get started, but nothing unnecessary that would drive up the overall price on the product. We get two SATA3 cables where one of them has an angled connector at one end, two CrossFireX bridges, as well as two NVIDIA SLI bridges for 2-way and 3-way SLI and CrossFireX support. There’s also the obligatory IO shield and a driver disk
With the increasing trend of thin clients and lower-powered user machines, the cloud and virtual machines are taking on an ever more important role. In order to supply users with graphics and compute power even when they are using thin clients, Nvidia introduced their GRID hardware virtualization and cloud gaming service. Now AMD is jumping into the game with their own Multiuser GPU solution.
For now, it looks like AMD is focusing on the hardware virtualization side of things. With the top end card, AMD is allowing up to 15 users per card. This means the GPU is being shared between up to 15 users. Of course, this is for lighter loads, with heavier loads requiring fewer and fewer simultaneous users. Virtualization will also be done on a hardware level, with users being able to access most of the usual features with OpenCL, OpenGL and DirectX acceleration.
AMD’s announcement comes as Nvidia is also refreshing their platform with GRID 2.0. With Nvidia having already carved out their turf, it will be interesting to see how AMD will attempt to move in. Good news for AMD is that it appears that some FirePro cards will support Multiuser while GRID 2.0 requires different cards. This means for FirePro users, it may be an easy switch to enable multiple users. With true hardware virtualization support though, AMD may be able to snag some much needed marketshare before the market gets saturated.
While higher powered CPUs finding homes in mobile laptops is nothing new, Intel looks to be expanding their professional offerings. In the past, those looking for top tier CPU performance were stuck with Intel’s i7 lineup, which while offering great performance, did not support a number of workstation and professional features. These features were confined to the desktop Xeon lineup of E3, E5 and E7s. Yesterday, Intel announced they will start offering mobile Xeon E3s from the E3-1500M v5 family, bringing professional support to the mobile workstation.
Like most Xeons, the E3-1500M v5 supports ‘professional’ features like ECC (Error Correcting-Code memory) and Intel vPro enterprise features. Intel also stated that each Xeon enabled laptop will also featureThunderbolt 3. We don’t know yet if this will be enabled on the PCH chipset or OEMs will have to bundle a Thunderbolt controller chip. Thunderbolt 3 also means support for USB C, which makes these laptops likely some of the earliest ones to get the new connector.
With i7s long being used in high-end mobile workstations, these Xeons will probably get snapped up by firms wanting vPro support and professionals running workloads requiring ECC. As CPU performance has stagnated, it won’t be surprising if these Xeons be within spitting distance of stock desktop i7s. Given that some firms have already offered desktop i7s and even 12 core Xeons in workstation laptops, Intel officially getting into the game shouldn’t be surprising. No word has been given about clock speeds, release date or core count, but I doubt Intel plans to be exceeding 4 Skylake cores for now; you can find the Intel announcement here.
Today we are taking a look at Gigabyte’s Intel i5 5200U powered BRIX. Gigabyte has an impressive array of BRIX models that come in at all different performance levels with many CPU options and even options with discrete GPUs. The small form factor computer business has been exploding the last few years due in part with parts shrinking and their abilities skyrocketing. Many people have been buying small form factor units deciding to use them as business or daily workstations due to the low power consumption, helping to lower costs. Others love these small boxes for use as home theater PCs (HTPCs) since they can be tucked out of the way and will generally not be heard over ambient sound in the home theater. The specs for this BRIX look promising for use in both situations so let’s take a closer look and see just how well it would perform in these tasks.
RAM: User Supplied – We tested with Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24 1T 1.35v
SSD:User Supplied – Crucial MX200 SSD 250GB
GPU: Integrated – Intel® HD Graphics 5500
LAN: Realtek RTL8111G10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x HDMI, 1x Mini isplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, RJ-45/GbE LAN
OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
Warranty: 1 Year
Printed materials and hardware that the BRIX comes with. You will get a power adapter and power cord to hook up the BRIX as well as all the screws that you will need to mount your SSD or HDD and use the VESA mount if you wish. The DVD and printed materials are toss away materials in my opinion since the most up to date drivers and materials can be downloaded from the support website.
GIGABYTE is completing their Intel 2011-3 socket motherboard line-up with the brand new dual-socket workstation and server motherboard, MW70-3S0. The new motherboard comes packed with onboard features and enough expansion flexibility to satisfy even the most demanding power user.
It is built with 3-way graphics in mind where it can fully utilize three Gen3 x16 cards. That really makes this a great motherboard for 3D modeling, rendering and animation just as well as Audio and video production and small-scale scientific analysis and simulation.
Storage Enthusiasts won’t be disappointed either. The board features 10 SATA 3 onboard headers as well as two mini-SAS HD connectors for 8 SAS 12Gb/s drives via the onboard LSI SAS 3008 controller.
Previous Intel server platforms decreased the memory bandwidth when the capacity increased, but that’s different here as it supports a maximum frequency of 2133 MHz in any memory configuration by default. You can use up to 64GB modules in the 16 DDR4 DIMM slots to satisfy the most memory hogging apps you can think off.
USB 3.0 and 2.0 are covered with both onboard headers and direct IO. It has an integrated Aspeed AST2400-VB iGPU for full HD resolution and supports a front VGA connector.
Two onboard Gigabit Ethernet ports ensure connectivity and they’re powered by Intel’s I210.
Although Boston may at first not be familiar to many, rest assured with a presence in America, UK, Germany and India this is a truly global company. They supply one of the widest variety of business hardware available, from micro servers, blade servers, Quadro workstation and even green and cloud solutions. Today we will be looking at the Boston Venom 3401-7T, which is one of their flagship models of their Venom series, which has been designed for high-performance graphics, parallel processing and high-speed rendering. With this being one of our first enterprise workstation reviews we have a fresh selection of benchmarks which will help us push these high specification systems to their limits. We have a wide range including CPU, GPU, Memory and storage benchmarks which will help us collect some statistics which will help us find the cream of the crop of workstation rigs and at the same time provide our audience with informative concise results.
Although normally in reviews we don’t usually use descriptions that suppliers supply us with, with workstations often being targeted at a particular use or task and I feel that it makes sense for us to include a small description from Boston on what area the Venom is aimed at.
“The Boston Venom 3401-7T is designed to be the ultimate workstation for all design, VFX and digital content professionals. The Venom 3401-7T is a workstation designed by Boston that brings together the often disjointed design and simulation processes into one package; dramatically increasing productivity and allowing engineers, designers and content creators to do more, faster, and with better results.”
So on that note, we have some high expectations going into this review!
Name: Boston Venom 3401-7T
Case: Silverstone Fortress Series Case FT04 – Black
Motherboard: Supermicro X10DAX
Processor: Intel Xeon Processor E5-2687WV3 3.1GHz (Haswell) x 2 with 4% Overclock
LEADTEK released their new NVIDIA Quadro M6000 and Quadro K1200 graphics cards aimed at the ultra-high-end users and entry-level users with small form factor workstations separately. The new cards feature a large memory that lets you tackle the most challenging visual computing tasks effortlessly.
The NVIDIA Quadro M6000 is powered by the latest NVIDIA Maxwell GPU, has 3072 CUDA cores, and 12GB VRAM. It allows professionals to take on the most challenging digital prototyping, visual effects, and geophysical or architectural visualization workloads, and it supports four displays natively with true 4K resolutions. NVIDIA’s Iray technology allows users to reach new levels of interactive, physically based rendering for exceptional accuracy and photorealism in the creative workflow.
The Quadro K1200 is aimed at the small form factor workstations that don’t want to miss out. The K1200 only uses a single slot and comes as a low-profile card to fit even the smallest cases. It support multiple 4K displays, has 4GB memory capacity, advanced photorealistic rendering, and flexible multi-GPU configurations to let you tackle the most tasks effortlessly.
No word on pricing or availability yet.
Thanks to Leadtek for providing us with this information
Samsung has revealed its new solid state drive, the SM951, designed to be a high-performance, low-powered PCIe for notebooks and workstations.
The small SM951 – its dimensions of 80mm x 22mm are around 1/7 the size of a 2.5-inch SSD – can pack in as much as 512GB storage.
Using a PCIe 3.0 interface, the SM951 can perform at speeds of up to 2.15GB/s read and 1.55GB/s write, four times as fast as a SATA SSD. Through a PCIe 2.0, speeds are still an impressive 1.6GB/s read and 1.35GB/s write.
Remarkably, while hitting such accelerated speeds, the SM951 uses 50% less power than the nearest SSD, and only consumes 2mW when in standby mode.
Samsung plan to release the SM951 PCIe SSD later this year.
Overclockers are one of the top computer retailers in the UK, they’ve already won many awards for their incredible 8PACK gaming systems, and now they’re hitting the professional market with their new range of RENDA systems.
RENDA is a culmination of OCUK’s expertise and the high demand for ultra-high performance workstations. The systems come with a wide range of configurability options, which come with automatically calculated prices, so no waiting for a quote on your specialist system.
“RENDA will boast Overclockers UK’s speciality on a range of Frequency Enhanced Workstations, tweaking the system for extra performance and horsepower ultimately giving a more efficient system to complete hardcore tasks.”
RENDA systems are named after rendering and NDA; highlighting the fact that these systems will be ideal for the most demanding tasks possible, while also using the latest and greatest hardware. Equipped with a choice of NVIDIA Quadro, AMD FirePro graphics hardware, high performance ECC memory from Kingston Hyper X and high-end Asus motherboards.
“The Overclockers UK business team is available for companies or individuals interested in more information, which can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org” said OCUK in a recent press release.
If you’re in an industry that requires high-performance computing, 3D design, sound/audio engineering and more, then RENDA is certainly worth looking into. All systems come with a five year warranty.
Thank you Overclockers for providing us with this information.
Asus have revealed the X99-E WS, their latest Compact Electronics Bay (CEB) workstation motherboard. The board features the new Intel X99 chipset and comes loaded with features that will make it a popular choice with professional and enthusiast users. The X99-E WS comes equipped with support for the latest range of Intel CPUs, four-way PCI Express 3.0 x16 graphics card support for both AMD and Nvidia based cards and 8 x DDR4 slots capable of holding up to 64GB of 2133MHz (up to 3200 O.C.).
Like all premium Asus boards, the X99-E WS is equipped with a wide range of features such as Driver-MOSFET, Beat Thermal Chokes II, 12K capacitors, ProCool connector and more to help ensure reliable performance from the motherboard. Storage options include M.2 x4, Asus PIKE II I/O kit expansion, ThunderboltEX II expansion cards, 2 x SATA Express 6Gbit/s and 8 x SATA 6Gb/s.
There are currently no details on price, but with such an extensive set of features we can be certain that it won’t be cheap.
Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.
Asus have just revealed their new Z10PE-D3 WS Dual CPU Workstation Motherboard, which comes equipped with the latest LGA 2011-3 Sockets and support for the new Intel Haswell-EP range of processors; including the Intel Xeon E5-2600/1600 V3 range.
As you can see from the pictures, the board is beautifully designed. It comes equipped with mostly black fittings, as well as some gold trim on the VRM coolers to add a little flair. There are eight memory slots in total, which are capable of supporting up to 512GB of DDR4-2133 and seven PCI 3.0 x16 slots, which can run in dual x16 or quad x8; more than enough for 4-way SLI or CrossFireX graphics configurations.
The Z10PE-D3 WS is equipped with the Intel C612 chipset, 8 x SATA 6Gb/s, 2 x SATA Express, 1 x M.2 and supports Raid 0/1/5/10 storage arrays. There are no doubt a whole lot more features that you would expect from a premium board such as this. There are no details on price or performance at this time, but we expect more details will follow in the coming weeks.
Thank you Chiphell for providing us with this information.
There are just two weeks left until Haswell-E and the Intel X99 chipset becomes available and already there is a nice selection of motherboard products creeping up ready for launch day. One of the latest is this new ASRock board, which is obviously built around the upcoming X99 chipset and designed for workstation level X99 systems.
The board features the LGA2011 socket, Super Alloy technology for massive aluminium alloy heatsinks, premium alloy chokes, dual-stack MOSFET and 12k platinum capacitors. There are eight DDR4 slots to allow up to 128GB of RAM, ten SATA 6.0 Gbps ports, an Ultra M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 connector and six PCIe x16 slots with SLI and CrossFire support.
Not content with all that, the board also features dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet, Purity Sound 2 7.1 channel audio, one eSATA port, four USB 3.0 connectors and a debut LED.
Unfortunately there are no details on price just yet, but you can bet that with flagship levels of specifications like this, it isn’t going to be cheap.
Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.
AMD has just launched the AMD FirePro W8100 professional graphics card, bringing a new generation of AMD Graphics Core Next architecture as well as even grater workstation performance, which is dubbed to be 38x better than any other competing product on the market.
Featuring OpenCL, a best-in-class 8 GB of GDDR5 memory, 4.2 TFLOPS single-precision compute performance, 2.1 TFLOPS double-precision compute performance and of course OpenCL, the AMD FirePro W8100 is said to be designed for Media & Entertainment workflows, as well as engineering analysis and supercomputing applications.
In terms of productivity, the FirePro W8100 is said to be the ideal professional-grade solution for 4K Computer Aided Design (CAD) and other applications dedicated towards video editing, colour correction, compositing, design visualisation and GPU-accelerated compute tasks. Thanks to its super-fast memory and vast capacity, users are said to be able to load large datasets or handle ultra-HD video frames on the GPU’s internal memory for processing purposes, resulting in reduced lag and improved overall responsiveness.
Users are also said to have the option to combine up to four AMD FirePro W8100 cards in a single system in order to have over 16 TFLOPS compute performance, in addition to increased productivity with up to four 4K display support and certified application performance with differentiated graphics features.
The FirePro W8100 is said to deliver support for increasing real-time 4K productivity with single-GPU and multi-GPU configurations from various system integrators, including Armari, CARRI, Colfax, Exxact, Mouse Computers, PSSC Labs, Scan International, Tarox, Versatile Distribution Services, Workstation Specialists and Wortmann.
AMD has stated that it will start shipping in July from SAPPHIRE Technology, AMD FirePro Ultra Workstation providers as well as major workstation providers.