News

  • Does ‘system on chip’ have any enterprise value?

    Updated 08/03/2016

    The phrase ‘system on chip’ has become a buzz phrase among tech enthusiasts in recent years. Essentially, it refers to a processor embedded onto a board which may be integrated with all of the components required to function a computer or electrical device. Recently there has been some commercial success with easy-entry platforms like Raspberry Pi and Intel’s Galileo, but do these devices, also known as Integrated Circuit PCs have any place in enterprise computing?

    First out the blocks

    As you’d expect, Intel has been one the first out of the blocks in product development and building the hype around system on chip.  Their virgin product is an Integrated Circuit PC on a HDMI input device called Compute Stick. Although just 4.5 inches in length, the Compute Stick does come with an impressive spec. The device has a choice of Core M processors and up to 4 GB of memory, which will be sure to spark interest and inspire innovation within the small computing industry.

    Whilst Intel has developed an out-of-the-box product that is at this moment quite unique, it will arguably still only appeal to those looking for a tiny device where performance and necessity to configure is not king.  For this reason, in our opinion it’s still really a consumer device for now and is unlikely to stand up to the demands of enterprise computing, where users need to connect to multiple network or require more powerful compute to run graphics intensive software.  But, as we’ve seen with other consumer computing phenomenon like the Apple iPad, it doesn’t take long to establish traction and see new consumer tech start to play a disruptive role in the enterprise.

    The new old

    We believe the trend is set and manufacturers will continue to create products marketed as system on chip, albeit primarily aimed at the consumer market. Despite the buzz however, system on chip isn’t actually something new.  Integrated Circuits have been around in small computing for a while now.  In fact, most of today’s rack PCs are built using components embedded onto a chip.  Indeed, G2 harnesses a variation of system on chip technology in our rack-mount NUC, but complement this with other functionality that better meets the performance and expandability requirements of the enterprise.

    Trickle down benefits

    It’s practically guaranteed that as system on chip technology develops, with that will come greater performance options and evermore innovation.  And that makes us excited, as undoubtedly there will be trickle-down benefits for our own product development roadmap, helping us to continue creating better performing, smaller product packages that pack-in as much functionality as possible.

    As ever, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on this market and will of course share our observations and developments.

    If you’d like any help understanding system on chip or would like to talk to us about any of our products, please get in touch.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Technical Articles

  • Development Project – M.2 Ethernet Card for Intel NUC

    Updated 08/03/2016

    Anyone familiar with Intel’s 4th generation NUC will probably be aware that if you needed the product to connect to multiple networks via Ethernet then you needed a mini-PCIe adapter.  This is something G2 has provided to our NUC customers for some time, meeting a pretty commonplace requirement.

    All change for 5th & 6th generation NUC

    Unfortunately, the ability to add a second Ethernet port to the latest NUC is more problematic, causing issues for those who need to bridge connections to multiple networks. As Intel has phased out the Mini PCIe interfaces on their motherboards in favour of M.2 slots to enable increasingly smaller package footprints, there is no longer a compatible Ethernet adapter. Until now….

    At last an M.2 Ethernet adapter for the latest NUC!

    To meet this need we’re currently developing an M.2 Ethernet card for the 6th generation Intel NUC.  Here’s what it promises:

    • Two Intel i210 Ethernet ports
    • Interface with the smallest 2230 M.2 Interface
    • Dual Gigabit Ethernet Ports from one PCB – your NUC can be now configured with three Ethernet Ports instead of one
    • Utilises superior PCI express BUS interface and NOT USB adaption

    It’s an exciting development and one we believe satisfies a real market need, whilst opening up new options for where and how the latest NUC technology can be used.

    G2 has a strong track record of innovation around the Intel NUC platform.  In 2014, we were the first company in the world to rack-mount the very first generation of NUC, breaking new ground by enabling up to three NUC to coexist in the same 1U of space and meeting a genuine customer need.

    We will be taking orders on the M.2 Ethernet Card shortly, but in the meantime if you’d like to know more contact one of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: Development Projects, News

  • 2U Ultra Quiet Short Depth PC

    It’s here! The 2U Nano is now available to order

    Updated 02/03/2016

    Following the success of the 2U Rack PC we are delighted to announce our latest short-depth rack PC release – the 2U Nano.

    The arrival of the 2U Nano is in response to increasing customer demand for an ultra-quiet short depth rack PC that can be deployed in niche installations such as control rooms or recording studios. The 2U Nano therefore focuses on bringing the feature-rich identity of our traditional 2U rack PC in an impressive 370mm case capable of fitting a 400mm comms cabinet, typically available in these scenarios. Like the 2U Rack PC, the 2U Nano is built around an intelligent design and offers strong performance characteristics:

    • Near silent operation
    • ATX Motherboard support for 4-10 Intel Core CPUs
    • Two front panel high speed USB 3.0 ports
    • Up to Four PCIe x16 slots
    • Two 3.5” Hot Swappable HDDs

    With the deployment scenarios in mind, the 2U Nano also runs ultra-quiet due its muted power supply and passive fanless CPU cooler. We believe this will be welcomed by those looking to run a high performance rack PC in sound-sensitive environments like audio-visual production.

    For more information on our 2U Nano NUC click here, or find out more about our wider range of Rack PCs.  Alternatively, get in touch to speak with one of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • Intel 6th gen “Next Unit of Computing” hotly anticipated

    Updated 30/11/2015

    We’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of Intel’s new 6th generation NUC, otherwise known as “Next Unit of Computing”.  As one of our best selling products, we were the first company in the world to rack-mount NUC and haven’t looked back, innovating around the platform ever since its launch in 2013.

    The new 6th generation NUC, powered by a Skylake-based chipset dubbed “Skull Canyon” and “Swift Canyon”, promises to be the most powerful family of NUC’s yet, with various product iterations up to Core i7.  Whilst information is limited at this stage, depending on the model, new features are expected to include:

    • 4K display capability, over mini HDMI 1.4a and mini DP 1.2
    • Purpose-built for Windows 10
    • Superfast 11ac wireless (option)
    • 2 SSD for lightning fast data transfer
    • Intel’s much acclaimed Iris Pro graphics

    The small form factor and powerful capabilities of NUC make it particularly well suited to a host of applications including immersive gaming, content creation, digital signage, point-of-sale and kiosk.

    Expected Q1 2016, we hope to get an early look at the new offering soon, enabling us to begin our own innovation process of continuing to rack-mount NUC as a short-depth, 1U product for specialised computing environments like audio-visual and display media.

    If you’d like to know more about NUC get in touch or take a look at our product line-up.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Technical Articles

  • New architecture takes to the sky at last

    Updated 27/11/2015

    After a period of well publicised constraint, commonplace when transitioning between architectures, Intel has made progress with availability of Skylake; its latest processor platform.  As such, we’re pleased to announce that we are now shipping a number of our products with the new 6th generation architecture including:

    1U Nano – Workstation Series

    1U PC – Workstation Series

    1U PLUS – Entry Level Series

    2U PC  – Entry Level Series 

    We will soon also be able to offer 6th generation support in our ‘Entry Level’ series once a suitable motherboard becomes available. Unfortunately, the ‘Industrial’ and ‘Performance’ options are based on chipsets that are not due for release yet.

    To learn more about the benefits of choosing Skylake, read our recent blog article.  Alternatively, contact us to speak to one of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • ISO 9001: An invaluable achievement for G2 Digital

    Updated 24/11/2015

    We are thrilled to announce that we have now officially achieved the ISO9001:2008 standard and are Quality Assurance approved.

    This Certification recognises that we have demonstrated our products and services are consistently meeting both our customers’ and statutory and regulatory requirements.

    Gaining ISO 9001 means that the Quality Management System we have in place enables us to continually monitor and manage the quality of our products across all of our processes. ISO 9001 confirms that there is rigorous testing on quality, and that Remedial Materials Advice (RMA) is given for any faulty returns that we do receive in order to eradicate any potential faults in the future.

    We believe the achievement will allow us to also become an even more customer-focused organisation. Through our new quality management capabilities we will be able to sustain better customer satisfaction and service by providing for our customers’ needs and expectations through the very highest quality possible.

    The process is one of continual improvement, our approaches becoming more effective and our number of errors being reduced to pave the way for a better performance. This is then tracked by ISO 9001’s managers to make sure that we are keeping on top of our quality care and are always using best practice methodology in order to constantly improve.

    The Certificate is audited annually and is renewed every three years so that you, the customer, can be certain that our quality is always at the forefront of our business.  Contact us to learn more about our ISO 9001 certification.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News

  • The sky’s the limit – new chipset heralds exciting innovation

    Updated 21/08/2015

    Intel’s eagerly awaited 5th Generation Processors were something of a disappointment with delays seeing stock almost unobtainable. Then suddenly we have news that Skylake, Intel’s much anticipated 6th generation desktop processor architecture, is here!

    This is truly exciting news.  This new generation is built on the same 14nm manufacturing process as Broadwell, but whilst arguably Broadwell was a die shrink with a handful of improvements (all be them noteworthy), in contrast Skylake is a full architecture refresh, serving as a “tock” in Intel’s “tick-tock” manufacturing and design model.

    Skylake is built on then new LGA1151 socket which takes existing LGA1150/1155 CPU coolers and brings with it a new chipset dubbed the 100-Series. This heralds increased port flexibility with up to 40% more high-speed I/O and support for PCIe storage including up to four M.2 and two SATA Express connections.

    Intel states that Skylake is its “most significant processor” for a decade, due to its enhanced power efficiency and wire-free capabilities. So what’s so important?

    Graphics

    By far the biggest news is Skylake uses Intel’s well respected Iris Graphics technology. Previously only seen on selected workstations, its powerful capability will give discrete graphics technology something to worry about. Whilst Haswell could drive a 4K monitor at only 30Hz, and Broadwell could drive a single 4K monitor at 60Hz, Skylake is capable of driving three 4K panels at 60Hz.

    Performance

    The CPU core itself is more efficient and able to handle more instructions simultaneously than Haswell or Broadwell CPUs. Skylake also supports faster DDR4 memory modules, but remains backward compatible with DDR3 memory for convenience.

    Power

    As expected this next generation of chip is more energy efficient. Details are limited on just how much, but new features like Speed Shift lets the CPU intelligently change its power state to reduce energy consumption.

    Security

    Intel has introduced SGX or Software Guard eXtensions. SGX is aimed at reducing privileged attacks by malware in a system. SGX works hand in hand with Intel’s Memory Protection eXtensions, which are also designed to build isolated sections of memory to harden defenses.

    The new family of Skylake processors will be available in Intel Core i3 and Core i5 and Core i7 formats, although first shipments are for i7 and i5 only, with i3 to follow shortly.

    We’re very excited about the potential of Skylake and are eagerly awaiting our first batch of processors so we can begin integrating into our products. Watch this space for further news.

    In the meantime, if you have questions surrounding Intel Skylake or its role in our products please contact us.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News

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