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12-16-2014

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ThinkStation P700 - adding a third-party video card: supplementary power connectors?

2014-12-16, 23:18 PM

Hi all,

 

I have recently purchased a ThinkStation P700 to replace my ageing setup and hopefully serve me for many years to come - It has not yet arrived (that's a different story altogether...).

 

I have a bit of a dillema regarding the video card I purchased for it. For my work I need CPU, much less so GPU, and especially not a Quadro. So for pure pleasure I added a GeForce GTX Titan Black (yes, I know that Lenovo will will not provide support for stability issues caused by this, etc, etc). I have the card already - here's my problem:

 

The card uses external power - it has one 8-pin and one 6-pin PCIe power connector on top of the board. With adapters I can get this to three 6-pin or multiple Molex, etc. The motherboard and the PSU in the P700 however, are so well designed and modular, that they almost seem too modular... I looked up the motherboard layout in the manual, and there are only 4-pin (?) connectors on the board, which are supposedly meant to be used with video cards. After a very long session with google it seems that hardly anyone has even heard of 4-pin power connectors for PCIe. Looking at pictures of the chassis available online, everything seems completely self-contained - the PSU slots into the board, and there are no free-hanging cables available whatsoever - am I right? Also pictures showing two full-size video cards installed, do not show power cables at all - maybe they're just cute marketing pics - the Quadros have power ports at the back - I simply can't see power cables in those pics, and the motherboard sockets are free. Obviously I know that the 4-pin, 6-pin and 8-pin are only combinations of 12V rails and ground.

 

So my questions are:

 

- are there any 6-pin or 8-pin connectors or Molex available anywhere at all?

- is there a spare part in the form of a 4-pin to 6-pin adapter? Is it perhaps bundled with the P700?

- how are the Lenovo-integrated video cards powered - surely with how thin the PCIE tracks are, they can't be powered only from the board - or can they?

- is this perhaps a joke on me / catch to make sure I only buy the pre-approved cards?

 

Thank you in advance.

 

Regards,

owczi

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21 Posts

12-16-2014

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  • Message 2 of 22

Re: ThinkStation P700 - adding a third-party video card: supplementary power connectors?

2014-12-17, 0:11 AM

OK, So I managed to find a more detailed (or - real) picture of the inside of the P700 on the PSREF site:

http://psref.lenovo.com/PSREFUploadFile/Sys/Image/ThinkStation/ThinkStation%20P700/P700_06.jpg

There seem to be some loose cables there so I may just get lucky - some confirmation would be helpful though. But the picture also shows that the Quadro K5000 housing is clearly a custom design - with the air baffle screwed to the back, and no power connectors visible.

 

Follow-up: will I also need to purchase the front graphics fan (4XH0H01346) ?

 

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11-24-2007

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  • Message 3 of 22

Re: ThinkStation P700 - adding a third-party video card: supplementary power connectors?

2014-12-19, 1:54 AM

welcome to the forum!

 

the P700 you linked photo shows a K5000 with a factory-installed support bracket.   it's actually not an air baffle.   it's standard issue in OEM systems from most vendors and supports the card during shipping and/or movement once on-site.

 

the 6-pin PCI power leads in that photo are incorrectly shown.   rather than being plugged into the back of the K5000 as it should be, they're plugged into the back of the fan cage for storage.   the supplemental 2-pin PCI power lead that you see dangling off by itself combines with a 6-pin to create an 8-pin.   there should be at least two 6-pin and one 2-pin leads available allowing a card using 8-pin + 6-pin.   i believe the larger PSU option has dual 6+2 leads available.

 

with that said, the P700 was qualified with the K6000 and K40 GPU/compute cards, each having TDPs of 225W and 235W respectively.   the GTX Titan Black you mention appears to have a TDP of 250W.   while close, i can't personally say whether or not this will exceed the rail capacity.   you would be on your own here both for testing and support.   it should work but again is untested and unsupported.

 

you should not need to purchase the front graphics fan.   i believe that even systems configured without a graphics card still ship with the front fan installed as it's still part of the overall thermal solution.

 

(edit: typo)

ThinkStation P700      ThinkPad X1C7

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21 Posts

12-16-2014

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  • Message 4 of 22

Re: ThinkStation P700 - adding a third-party video card: supplementary power connectors?

2014-12-19, 13:05 PM

Hi - many thanks for the info, just what I was looking for.

 

The bracket is actually a very good idea. I have seen the mess loose PCIe blanks can make inside large server chassis that has been shipped upside down and thrown around, nevermind a two-pound card.

 

The configuration I bought comes with the 850W PSU - the specs show 2 x K6000 as an option, so it must have two sets of power leads (well - P700 specs list K6000, but it's not purchasable with it online - go figure). I hope you understand my confusion here, I couldn't possibly know these things without actually having the workstation. I would assume that there have to be cables available, but the marketing pictures don't show them, and the user guide does not mention the PSU power cables at all.

 

Regarding the support and compatibility - all understood. I don't intend to overclock the card or anything. If it proves unstable I'll get rid of it. I don't intend to do CAD or GIS or biomed on this machine either. Mostly software dev and general computing. The card is rated 225W so either 6-pin + 8-pin or 3 x 6-pin using the 8-to-2x6 adapter that came with the card.

 

 It has to be a stable PC to serve me well for years to come. In saying that, my 8 year old Dell D830 laptop is still alive and kicking, if a bit slow (and not portable anymore, just sits on the desk), so hence the upgrade.

 

So regarding the shipment.... I made the order on Nov 29th. Two weeks passed last week, I was told by support that the estimated shipment date is Dec 18th, obviously no updates as of yet. No chance getting it before new year then.

 

I think top of the line workstations should be built and shipped with priority. It's not a $500 laptop you know.

 

Thanks again.

 

 

(edit: one more question)

 

Question number 2: HDDs -

 

The P700 comes with 4 drive bays. I purchased it with a pair of 240G SSD in RAID 1 (to be later replaced with Kingston E50s) and I purchased two 4T HDDs separately for another RAID 1 because I had no view of the models used and I wanted a particular model. I bought the P700 with the PCIe LSI RAID card.

 

Will I need to purchase extra SATA / power  cables to connect the two extra HDDs? The RAID card I assume is fitted with an SFF-8088 port so an adapter has to be in place and it will likely have some SATA coming out, but just making sure. The drive bays are not proper cages with connectors fitted like in servers, they are just cold swap bays?

 

 

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  • Message 5 of 22

Re: ThinkStation P700 - adding a third-party video card: supplementary power connectors?

2014-12-20, 19:52 PM

if you ordered with the 850W PSU then you'll have all of the power leads available in the chassis.   it's a cable array installed behind the planar.   i wouldn't judge by the marketing photo too harshly since it's a pre-release system and not configured exactly as a system would ship.

 

if you ordered the LSI 9364-8i then it will have an HD mini-SAS (SFF-8644) socket rather than the older mini-SAS (SFF-8088).   if you end up needing a different cable than what ships with the system, look for an SFF-8643 cable.   otherwise, the system will ship with an LSI FLEX card and power the native drive bays.   more than likely this is what will ship unless you specified a PCIe card.

 

the LSI cable will have two extra leads available if you want to put the 4TB RAID 1 on the LSI host.   if you're already using the LSI for your SSD array then you might as well use it for your storage array as well.   existing power connections will already be available in the bays.

 

you might also want to review the P5/P7 HMM.   it will provide a bit of insight on chassis layout and mechanicals.

Hardware Maintenance Manual (HMM) - ThinkStation P500 (type 30A6, 30A7), P700 (type 30A8, 30A9)

 

regarding ship dates, assembly times vary based on geographical location.   i'm not personally aware of the average time for the UK.   there's still a chance that you'll get it before the first of the year but i'd suggest calling sales on monday an inquiring about status.

 

(edit: clarification)

ThinkStation P700      ThinkPad X1C7

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  • Message 6 of 22

Re: ThinkStation P700 - adding a third-party video card: supplementary power connectors?

2014-12-23, 21:20 PM

Wow...lots of info in here.  

 

Couple of points....

- P700 with the 850W supply will come with a 6-pin and 6+2-pin (8-pin) connector.  They might not be shown well in the pictures, but that's because the lines mate directly to the power supply and are routed under the motherboard.

 

-We've actually looked at Titan Black for a couple of random requests.  You should have no issues running this card from a power perspective in P700 with the 850W supply.  Again, not officially qualified/supported as Erik stated, but it'll be fine as far as power goes.  I don't think you'll need any aux power adapters....Titan requires both a 6+8 as I recall, so you'll utilize all available aux connectors to power the card.

 

-Which specs are you referring to that state P700 supports dual K6000?  That's not accurate, so if it's in a support doc somewhere, we'll have to get it corrected.   P700 with the 850W supply will support a single 225W card or dual 150W cards.  A 300W card can be supported, but CPU power gets limited in that case.  Can you confirm what CPU(s) and what memory you intend to use?

 

 

-If you ordered the system with an LSI 9364-8i card, then it will be equipped with Blind Connect Assemblies.  These are backplanes that allow drives to attach to the LSI controller via a backplane.  These backplanes can handle up to 8 drives (with two drives installed per FLEX tray), however there are some limitations with how drives get installed in the FLEX trays.  So the real question will be whether you can install the 4TB drive along with one of the SSDs in a single tray.  I "think" the answer is yes here, but I'll double check when I get back in the office (I'm on break now).  If the 4TB drive is too thick, it might not allow enough room for the SSD.  Do you know the thickness of the SSD you intend to use with the 4TB drives?  Assuming the drives fit in the FLEX trays with no issues, you will not need any additional cabling to support the drives.  All power and data connections are tool-lessly (not sure that's a word, but I'm going with it)supported in the Blind Connect Assembly.  

 

 

- I agree with you that workstations should be built with top priority, and indeed they are.  I suspect the shipping delay is not so much an issue with line capacity as a technical/quality control delay.  I seem to recall some minor last minute issues found with the LSI controller, so systems that use that component might have been delayed a while until those issues could be resolved.  I'll check when I'm back in the office to see if there are any holds on those components or if they are good to go.




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12-16-2014

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  • Message 7 of 22

Re: ThinkStation P700 - adding a third-party video card: supplementary power connectors?

2014-12-24, 1:26 AM

Hi,

 

Now THAT was lots of info, and more. Much appreciated.

 

 

1. Power connectors - Indeed, Titan (Black) is 8 + 6 - so I'm happy with the info I got from you guys so far.

 

2. Specs listing dual K6000 - this site (looks like a Lenovo site?): http://thinkstation-specs.com/thinkstation-p700/ - there's a PDF with the same info there. This even says 3 x K6000 in SLI. I mean the board physically has three long slots, and three of those 4-pin ports that according to the manual have something to do with power - but I can't see this working. The psref site says K6000 (one) but the online shop will not let you configure the P700 with one - unless some other options preclude it and that's why I didn't see it.

 

3. CPU - I have no need for dual CPUs right now so I went for a single E5-1650v3 - I bought the P700 not P500 just so that I have an upgrade option, I may not use the second socket in the end but who knows.

 

4. Yes, I got the 9364-8i card (plus supercap module) - is this a Lenovo-specific model? Hard to find anything about it online - or is it just new? The blind mate assemblies are good news. So not much different to server-type drive caddies in the end - minus hot swap maybe.

 

5. Regarding the drives - are the internal (not front - the bottom ones) drive bays also referred to as FLEX bays? Theye are four of them and I intend to use four drives only ( 2x 240G SSD RAID 1 pre-installed + 2 x 4TB RAID 1 mine) - so why do I need to stick two drives into one tray - or is this just if I wanted to maximise the number of drives usable? The 4TB drives are HGST UltraStar 7k4000 - standard, full-thickness 3.5". The SSDs are Lenovo's whatever - the "240G SSD" option - Intel I think, looking at psref.

 

6. Shipping delays - see, this is the sort of concrete info I was looking for and I'm immensely thankful for this.

 

The rest is a rant/vent someone from Lenovo should read.

 

-----

 

So - in the meantime I started giving Lenovo UK & Ireland some abuse over Twitter (sorry, but well deserved IMO) - name and shame does wonders in the age of social media.

 

Had I been told something along the lines of "sorry, new product, build issues, we're working on it", I would have (reluctantly) shut up and waited for my turn. I'm an engineer myself, supporting systems where minutes of downtime cost hundreds of thousands, and working with vendors a lot. Delays and issues happen, when an engineer tells me there's an issue and I don't sense B/S, I accept it.

 

If the product is still wet, don't open it for orders or say it's pre-order. I can see that in the US the P700 is still "coming soon", in the UK it suddenly became available so I ordered it.

 

However, the process here is broken: Lenovo UKI (is it the same in the US?) uses DigitalRiver as the shop/shipping/support front end. That's all well and good, outsourcing does work in some cases. BUT there's no way to view the estimated shipping dates - only customer support can retrieve them from Lenovo (why can't they just make this info available online - to avoid people over-relying on it?)

 

The Customer Support cannot tell me anything. The only thing they can do is pull an estimated shipping date out of some magic 8-ball. Two weeks pass since order, I ask CS, they give me Dec 18th shipping date. I call them on the 22nd, on the call with me they tell me it's now magically the 22nd. Come on...

 

Throughout all this time I got zero notifications about anything happening with the order, as far as the Lenovo site is concerned, it's "in process" since Nov 29. Do you know that when I order a Domino's pizza from round the corner, I get a live animated progress screen from order through assembly, baking, QA and delivery?

 

Yes, it costs money and yes, businesses pushing more consumer grade disposable **bleep** than anything else, don't care about customer loyalty anymore, but why don't you at least show the high-end customers some respect - why can't you implement a tracking process for custom builds, or at least keep people updated?

 

I specifically chose the Lenovo P-series because I have no doubt that they are the best on the market. Dell don't offer the same storage options and customisation options. HP are not up there either. Fujitsu Siemens make great machines with straightforward hinged doors and drive bays behind them, but they have a **bleep** distribution model i.e. via specialised resellers only, making it near-impossible for a regular mortal to buy - at least in the UK. So the sad thing here is that I will most likely just wait and you'll still get my money - but if the official channels keep treating me like an idiot, I am very tempted to take my $4k somewhere else.

 

 

 

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  • Message 8 of 22

Re: ThinkStation P700 - adding a third-party video card: supplementary power connectors?

2014-12-28, 19:22 PM

First, congratulations on the order. From what I can tell the P700 is not yet available in the US to us mere mortals. I am confident you will be satisfied with it, as I believe the Think station line to be the epitome of PCs. With that said, Lenovo's shipping, ship dates, and information regarding shipping is notorious for delays and missed estimates. I would encourage you to bide your time and to ignore any estimates you are given. I personally think Lenovo would do better to simply post a shipping date 8 weeks out, for any system not listed as "Ready to Ship", and thereby have people delighted that the system arrives ahead of schedule instead of annoyed that it is behind. My own custom system, a Thinkpad, took about 6 weeks to be delivered. Once it was on its way it arrived quickly. After 18 months or so, I still could not be happier with it. I would buy a Thinkstation p900 (or P700) in a second if I could afford to.

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02-22-2010

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  • Message 9 of 22

Re: ThinkStation P700 - adding a third-party video card: supplementary power connectors?

2014-12-30, 0:46 AM

For item 2, there are some errors in there.  I'll have to take a look at it when I'm back in the office.  The 3-drop SLI support is definitely not supported as we don't have the aux power support to run 3 cards capable of SLI (i.e. K5200/Q6000).

 

For item 4, I believe it is a Lenovo specific item, so you'll likely have trouble finding info on it on the web.  It's still based off an LSI design, so it's likely similar to an existing LSI card....just running custom Lenovo FW.

 

For item 5, the list below does a good job of explaining the various FLEX terminologies.  Your drives will install in FLEX trays, each capable of holding two drives (typically 1 x 3.5" and 1 x 2.5").  I think I misunderstood your config in your earlier post.  With 2 SSDs (2.5") and 2 x 4TB drives (3.5"), you can either install one drive in each FLEX tray, or double up and install one SSD and one 4TB drive in each FLEX tray, leaving two trays open if you like.  Either way should work.

 

FLEX Components

Flex Bay: Formerly known as ODD bays.  Will support not only ODD, but also HDDs and Flex Module
Flex Module: Module supported in the Flex Bay with several options integrated. Will support slim ODD, High Speed Media Card Reader or 2 universal ports supporting IEEE1394, eSATA, etc…
Flex Connector: Mezzanine connector in the motherboard, that enables expanded storage and I/O.  2 available in P900, 1 available in P500/P700

Flex Tray: New HDD Tray design enables that two drives on a single tray (when used in a blind connect configuration)

 




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12-16-2014

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  • Message 10 of 22

Re: ThinkStation P700 - adding a third-party video card: supplementary power connectors?

2014-12-30, 15:15 PM

@jonv474: re. shipping delays - may well be, the same thing happened when I ordered a ThinkPad for the girlfriend a few years ago - but that didn't bother me much - although it did arrive with a misaligned webcam (picture was part-obscured). It is quite frustrating when you can't get the kit you ordered. Nevertheless, I will be moaning to Lenovo every day on Twitter, just to make the point. I was already offered partial discount so I strongly encourage everyone else affected by shipping delays to do the same. As to affordability, I can assure you that this wasn't a light-hearted purchase...

 

@psturtle: all very, very useful info, thanks a ton. I'm starting to re-visit the model choice (P700 vs. P900) - wondering if I will be able to add a secondary video card in the future - say two Titan Blacks in SLI - probably not. The other points are the number of disk bays (I'm basically limited to 4 x 3.5" - even with a front bay it wouldn't be an even number) and PCIx slots - the SuperCap module takes another slot I believe? But that's fine, I think, all the extras I'll need are a 10GE NIC and possibly a data acquisition card for my lab work. Regarding drive bays, I think I should be OK - I can up the single disk capacity and eventually go 0+1. This is also going to be my photo editing workstation so storage is key - but then again it is going to sit in a rack anyway, so I can easily add a SAS enclosure or go iSCSI. Do you know if the RAID card used also has a rear port? If not, I can always get an adapter and route one of the internal ports outside.

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