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04-15-2011

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Next Thinkstation wish list

2011-04-19, 13:05 PM

Hi folks,

 

Lenovo is pretty innovative stuff, I think we can all agree

 

As the Thinkpad is "inspired by customers", let's see if we could try and inspire Lenovo's system builders for the next generation of Thinkstation's to come, no doubt pretty soon given Intel has already come out with the Xeon E7 and has published their roadmap for the upcoming Xeon E5 which is expected later this year.

 

Ok, I'll try and start it off with what base configuration I would like available in at least one upcoming model.

 

====== Wish List ====== 

 

- Dual E5's; Romley-EP / Romley-WS; Sandy Bridge-EP/LGA2011;Socket R

 

- USB 3.0

 

- Far wider choice of Lenovo approved graphics cards, i.e. place just as much importance on "desktop" graphics cards as    "workstation" cards.

 

- Scale down pr/selling importance of "ISV certified", or "certify for ISV's" after initial release(s) of systems...

 

- Wide range of SLI and Crossfire options

 

- System designed straight from the factory to accommodate wide range of third party air or watercooling and fans for the cpu's, chipset, ram and video cards (i.e. boards pre-drilled to accommodate easy cpu watercooling backplates...)

 

-PCI 3.0 already comes with the chipset, so we're ok already with this

 

- Minimum of 3 PCI slots free

 

- Built in GPS tracking chip and not just software like Lojack- if workstation is stolen, it can be found. 

 

- Edit -

 

Adding

 

- UEFI, or Utensible Firmware Interface in lieu of BIOS

 

- Far faster POSTing

 

I think that's a fair start - correct me if I am wrong, and feel free to add your ideas!

 

Let's see how much Lenovo really listens ;)

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Re: Next Thinkstaton wish list

2011-04-19, 13:58 PM

your list tells me you want a gaming system, not a workstation! :D

 

workstation graphics card compatibility and ISV certification are top priority with these systems.   that isn't likely to "scale down" anytime soon.   that's why they make desktops.

 

SLI is already supported with nvidia graphics cards in the D20, C20, and C20x.   expect this to carry forward.

 

water cooling is for kids who overclock their gaming rigs.   since workstations are built first and foremost for 24/7 uptime and reliability, you won't find any overclocking options here.   no overclocking = no need for water cooling. ;)

 

GPS is an interesting concept but i'd probably just stick with locking via cable if you're worried about theft.   important data resides on HDDs and SSDs.   the intelligent theif would rather walk out with a few pounds of hard drives than 35~60 pounds of heavy workstation equipment.

 

---

 

my only suggestion has been in adding on-board battery backup to the built-in RAID controller.   this would help bridge the gap between fake RAID and discreet RAID controllers.

ThinkStation P700      ThinkPad X1C7

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31 Posts

04-15-2011

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Re: Next Thinkstaton wish list

2011-04-19, 14:32 PM

LOL Erik,

 

The lines have become practically blurred between powerful WS's and high end gaming rigs.

 

Don''t you think Lenovo would stir some excitement in the tetchie community by going the route I outlined? There are lots and lots of IT Managers with purchasing authority/;responsibility who are hard core techies you know.

 

This new box would also, therefore, get lots of good publicity and rave reviews - from pretty much everybody (except a few hard core build-your-own-system-or-have-nothing-at-all types)...

 

>workstation graphics card compatibility and ISV certification are top priority with these systems.   that isn't likely to "scale down" anytime soon.   that's why they make desktops.<

 

The lines are blurred. High end desktops of today perform equally well as many not even two year old "dedicated workstations".

 

Look at the Tesla cards. They work just great in a $999 I7 quad core PC as a $5000 "dedicated workstation".

 

>no overclocking = no need for water cooling<

 

I live in warm climes, Erik. and a 1KW PS in my dual 130 Watt Xeon AND two Quadro 5000's WS is going run pretty darn warm.

 

Overall, though, Lenovo - imho -should just build the killer box that targets enthusiast's participation as well as the traditional graphics intensive needs crowd.

 

It would sell a lot more systems that way too as no graphics guy is going to discount out of hand a system he might be considering for purchase simply because it can also be tweaked. 

 

There is also a lot ot be said for having an ultra high end capaibilitiy box for as wide a target audience as possible. Think of the reputation Lenovo could build with a totally new crowd if the techies aren't talking about the SR-2 replacement, but what Lenovo just rolled out.

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Re: Next Thinkstaton wish list

2011-04-19, 14:42 PM

Erik's making a good point....these are workstations first and foremost, and not converted gaming systems.  I can comment on some of these...

 

USB 3.0 - couldn't agree more, however Intel is not making this easy.  They'd much rather push their own lightpeak technology, but the industry isn't going to ignore USB3.

 

GFX - Don't really see us going after desktop cards.  GFX is the single biggest differentiator between desktop class systems and workstations.  Also, we have to be selective about which cards and how many cards we try to qualify.  Each additional card drives a LOT of work on our side, and this can quickly become very expensive.

 

ISVs - what you stated just won't happen.  ISV certs really drive workstations.  If anything, we'd like to concentrate even more on ISVs, but resources are always limited.

 

SLI - this is actually a VERY tiny portion of our current business.  No reason not to expect SLI to continue though since it's supported on current platforms.

 

Cooling - Most people take our cooling solutions for granted.  Given they aren't always the most sexy looking approach, it generally is very effective.  We generally beat our competitors with lower acoustics, and the thermal solutions are directly responsible for that.  In an area where cost is king, what you're describing adds a lot of cost to every base system and it would only be used by less than 1% of our customers.  Not to say we ignore this area, but most ideas generally get killed quickly due to cost concerns.

 

PCI - industry is moving away from PCI, so I wouldn't expect an increase in the number of PCI slots.

 

GPS - we've actually looked at some stuff like this before, but the reality is the chances of somebody walking off with a 60lb workstation are somewhat slim.  I actually went after a patent for something along these lines with workstation security and it got quite the chuckle from the patent review board.

 

RAID - we are exploring lots of new options with RAID support.  Obviously can't get into details, but based on other comments I've seen in the forums, I think we'll be able to make more of our customers (both budget and power users) happy.

 

 

This is a great thread topic.  Obviously we'd love to see any and all ideas or suggestions.  We can't accomodate everything, but it's always good to get the creative juices flowing.

 




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Re: Next Thinkstaton wish list

2011-04-19, 14:52 PM

Completely disagree about high end gaming rigs being similar to workstations.  Gaming rigs push the envelope of what they are capable of to provide peak performance with little to no regard for system stability.  Workstations work within the design limits to provide optimal high end performance with rock solid reliability. 

 

Bottom line is the two systems are designed with completely different goals in mind.  They can share some parts, but that's about where the commonality stops.

 

A "halo" product such as you described would be a great idea, and is something we've considered already.  Given unlimited resources (both headcount and DE), we'd love to do it.  But the real world reality is we are a TINY team here and are very limited in what we can do in that regard.  Keep in mind we only launched this WS business a few years ago, so we're still in the early growing stages. 

 

The C20 and C20x are pseudo halo products.  Nobody in the industry has been able to do what we did with those systems.  Unfortunately the problem with really cool halo products....they generally don't sell in volume and thus, don't make a company money.




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Re: Next Thinkstaton wish list

2011-04-19, 14:59 PM

Hi Turtle,

 

Fair enough, but answer me this if you could.

 

I go to Best Buy and pick up a new $1000 PC, come home, go online to Newegg and buy a Tesla card for it.

 

Are you prepared to say it wouldn't perform **bleep** strongly in much if not all the dedicated workstation benchmark tests?

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Re: Next Thinkstaton wish list

2011-04-19, 15:19 PM

Tesla is it's own animal.  As long as you've got the slot to support it, the power to run it, and the ability to keep it cool,  it's going to do what it does.  Tesla is a way to offload CPU intesive computational workload to a more than capable multi-core GPU. You essentially need to write code specifically for Tesla for it to actually do anything beneficial for you.

 

I think I understand the point you're trying to make, but using Tesla is a bad example.




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Re: Next Thinkstaton wish list

2011-04-19, 15:30 PM

Very well, then instead of a pure Tesla card, how about the new dual GPU cards like a GeForce GTX 590, or an HD 6990, each of which one can purchase for about $700?

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Re: Next Thinkstaton wish list

2011-04-19, 15:53 PM

OK, so what exactly is your point?

 

Sure, putting high end GFX cards in a desktop will probably garner similar GFX based benchmark scores as compared to a workstation.  You're concentrating on a modular subsystem.  To my knowledge, none of those cards are workstation class cards...thus it brings potential stability issues.  This is why even NV will tell you they don't support GeForce cards in workstations.

 

 

Are desktops capable of performance on par with workstations?  Sure to some extent, they share a lot of the same architecture.  Is a gaming rig the equivalent of a workstation?  Absolutely not.  They are designed for two completely different audiences.

 

There's a big difference of being 8 hours into a simulation and having a system go down, and 8 hours into a game and having a system go down.  One costs people/comapnies a lot of money, the other doesn't.  :)




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Re: Next Thinkstaton wish list

2011-04-19, 16:04 PM

Hi Turtle,

 

Sorry, went for a swim!

 

On the hardware level, workstation and the new high level "desktop" cards are essentially identical.

 

The price difference is driver and support related. That's it.

 

Errr, and my point is that it would be better if the at least one of the next high end Lenovo WS's isn't targeted solely towards traditional WS buyers, but enthusiasts (and not necessarily hard core OC'ers) as well, that's all. 

 

Thanks for your time and input!

 

-Edit-

 

It seems, at least with Nvida, it is Nvidia who puts the kabosh on desktop cards not being able to be super rendering cards, and WS cards to be great desktop/gaming cards. They do so by tweaking the firmware in the cards themselves.

 

That means that the system board on this new Thinkstation could be video card agnostic, as it were. The buyer could opt for going one route...or another. 

 

That seems like a very, very do-able thing. It would simply involve Lenovo re-doing its re-seller deal with NVidia so that Lenovo could market and support both types of cards on one system...

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