Technical Articles

  • Project build

    Have it your way – five reasons to commission a project build PC

    Updated 24/04/2017

    As well as the off-the-shelf products G2 sells, we are frequently commissioned to build Mini or Rack PC appliances for specific purposes.  We term these requests “project builds” and they are often the best route to ensuring hardware is precisely matched to the purpose you have in mind for it.  When there’s such a lot of choice already available, it’s often not clear what the benefits are of going this route.  Here are the five most common benefits which tend to influence if this direction is right:

    1. No compromise on build

    Sometimes, the mix of options available to you in an off-the-shelf product don’t measure up and you end up compromising.  With a project build, quite literally anything is possible.  Together we can evaluate what you need and match what goes into the machine to your exact requirements, without wasting money on unnecessary components.  You’ll have the chance to tailor everything from motherboard to operating system.

    1. Change the inside and out

    A project build isn’t restricted to the internal specification of the machine either; we can custom build cases and change the physical size of the machine based upon how it will be used or where it will be located.  We can even modify the design to factor in other important functional attributes like acoustics or resistance to the elements.  We’ve previously built machines for all sorts of environments including yachts, all-terrain vehicles, interactive restaurant tables and much more.

    1. A better end-user experience

    Having a machine perfectly suited to your application ultimately means you’ll deliver a better experience for your users – whether that’s performance, reliability, graphics or any other consideration that’s important.  You might end up conceding on this when you’re working within the confines of off-the-shelf options, as whilst choice can be plentiful it still doesn’t guarantee the match you might be looking for.  Likewise, there’ll be less chance of failure in operation if the specification is spot on, and you’ll have confidence that the machine will work straight out of the box every time.

    1. The chance to personalise the machine

    If you’ve created your own software and you’re looking for a Mini or Rack PC as a host appliance, there’s a good chance you’ll want the machine to reflect your company branding.  We can do just this, including adding your corporate livery, altering case colour and changing display lights used.

    1. Same Warranty coverage

    Just like our off-the-shelf machines, your project build is covered by our Standard 2-year return to base warranty.  However, if you required a longer warranty term or onsite cover we can look at a bespoke warranty cover just for your application.  It means you can confidently commission machines safe in the knowledge that you’ll receive the same levels of support in the event of a problem.

    We’ve delivered countless project builds and accordingly have an extensive library of blueprints to call upon depending on the type of machine you’re looking for.  It means project builds are informed by past experiences to create tailored options in a fraction of the time.

    If you’d like to know more, take a closer look at how we build solutions like this.  Alternatively, speak to one of our team to discuss your requirements further.

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

  • The SSD Evolution

    Updated 15/06/2016

    10 TB 3D NAND is upon us.

    Last year we spoke in detail about the gap between traditional storage and SSD closing significantly. A lot can change in a year, a phrase which appears particularly apt to the world of SSD. Being more affordable, more powerful and with greater capacity, it’s fair to say SSD is playing a major part in ushering out traditional spinning disk storage.

    Previously, we suggested that SSD manufacturers were looking at new ways to increase capacities almost exponentially and that is now becoming a reality.  By adopting Micron’s 3D NAND flash chips and stacking them vertically, Intel has created an affordable 10TB SSD, which they recently announced will be making its way to market later this year. With each of these new advancements we are increasingly seeing a Moore’s Law for storage memory.

    Intel’s new solid state drive promises a huge jump in capacity and performance, yet retaining the same physical footprint – meaning positive impacts on both device size and data centre real estate.  The arrival of the new 3D NAND technology should also signal a lower price per/GB, whilst delivering significant advancements over standard Planar NAND. And if all goes to plan you should be able to reap these cost and productivity gains in the coming months.

    It’s more than just capacity                            

    If anything was holding people back from SSD, some might argue it was the capacity, but really that’s a non-argument now, especially with the arrival of 3D NAND.  Similarly, SSD uses an embedded controller to read and write data and in the early days of their development, write speeds were lower than read speeds leading to gripes compared to traditional disk alternatives. However, the current crop of SSDs offer massive jumps in performance too, offering a far more even performance symmetry – with read and write speeds potentially averaging 580 mps and 500 mps respectively, meaning less time required to store and pull data when you need it.

    The prospect of 3D NAND technology promises even greater read/write bandwidth, I/O speeds and power savings all within the next 12 months. Consequently, it appears 3D NAND will smash previous ceilings on both capacity and performance.  Perhaps its arrival will mark the final demise of spinning disk.

    If you’d like to know more about SSD and its inclusion in our products or believe the technology could lend itself to a potential challenge you face, please get in touch to talk further.

     

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

  • Windows 10 anniversary just round the corner and Windows 7 end of sale hot on its heels!

    Updated 29/04/2016

    With Windows 10 first year anniversary just round the corner (an anniversary update is expected sometime in July), it’s likely to prompt people to start looking more closely at the operating systems (OS) they have deployed and any application dependencies tied to them.  In particular, it brings into focus what’s ahead for Windows 7.  The End of Sales for PCs pre-installed with Windows 7 Professional is actually October 2016!  In our opinion, it’s not been as well publicised as it otherwise might have been because of all the hype surrounding Windows 10.  However, before, you come out in a cold sweat, this doesn’t mean the end of support – Microsoft will continue to patch and update the OS until January 2020.  What it does mean though is that if you want to buy new PCs pre-installed with the OS you’re not going to be able to through conventional routes.

    Unless…

    You work with a partner like G2 who operates under an embedded licensing agreement.  This means we can continue to sell Rack and Mini PC systems pre-installed with the OS (and in fact even older OS like XP) beyond the end of sale date.

    For us it’s critical as in our experience there are still many organisations that rely on Windows 7 for critical applications – having proved itself as a robust and reliable OS.  In fact, 52% of all machines globally run Windows 7 proving exactly that, and it wasn’t that long ago people panicked about getting off of XP.

    Rest assured

    Using our industrialised motherboards we will be able to build and support Windows 7 PCs for a LONG time to come.

    If you’re interested in understanding more about our Rack and Mini PCs and the supply of Windows 7 pre-installed machines then get in touch.  Alternatively, explore our products to find something suitable for your needs.

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 5th generation NUC packs even bigger punch! 

    Updated 17/02/2015

    When Intel released the NUC it was a revolution in ultra-compact PC design.  Likewise, we broke new ground when we were the first company in the world to rack-mount the NUC and enable up to three units to co-exist together in a 1U rack space.

    Intel has now launched the 5th generation Broadwell NUC, which packs even more new features into a familiar ultra-small design.  As such we will be continuing to innovate around the NUC5i5MYHE / NUC5i5MYBE (vPro) and NUC5i3MYHE / NUC5i3MYBE products, taking advantage of the new features.  Support now includes:

    • Intel 5th generation Core i3 and i5 processors
    • Intel HD graphics – 4K resolution and support for up to three monitors
    • Multiple peripheral connectivity including front and back USB ports
    • Internal M.2 SSD plus an additional M.2 slot for WiFI and Bluetooth
    • vPro options to remote manage intelligent computing solutions (NUC5i5MYHE / NUC5i5MYBE)

    The NUC has been successfully deployed in a host of innovative computing environments including digital signage, vending, point-of-sale and content creation, where it’s size versus performance advantages really shine through.

    Helpfully, Intel has committed to 3 year development and production cycles for this new generation of NUC, which gives added peace of mind for those looking to integrate the platform into wider computing solutions.

    We are well underway with developments in our own product line-up to continue offering rack-mount options for the new NUC.  Watch our blog feed for news or for more information please contact us.

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

  • What’s next for SSD and how will it be used?

    Updated 02/02/2015

    In one of our blog posts last month we talked about the gap closing between the cost of SSD and traditional spinning disk.  Only a modest increment in cost delivers comparable capacity, but with vastly greater performance advantages.  And with SSD capacities growing all of the time, the fate of traditional disk looks set.

    The world of SSD is moving as fast as the memory itself. Firstly, there’s different approaches to achieving greater capacities.  Whilst the prevailing trend has been to make di sizes smaller, the likes of Samsung and Intel have decided to buck the trend, going back several di sizes to 40nm (still small, but not as small) with a plan to stack memory.  So, instead of a single layer di, they can stack in multiple layers and achieve advancements in density and therefore capacity this way. This is a move to deliver better economies – using a larger di size they can manufacture their SSD’s much cheaper, but still achieve the same (or possibly better) capacity advancements.

    Where does this leave RAID? Current NAS/SAN arrays are built of multiple spinning drives but if the same capacity could be achieved in a smaller foot print surely the future of the hot swap SATA/SAS interface is limited.

    Then consider the new performance advantages of Ultra M.2 with it’s 10Gb/s interface and you have a new storage media even for large data centres.

    Of course, SSD is effecting data storage, but what else is it impacting?  The really interesting result of SSD (in whichever variant), is the real estate it frees up in the device itself.  With no cumbersome spinning disk gobbling up device real-estate (and power), devices can shrink in size, or have space liberated to incorporate new features, or achieve better performance from other components.

    Likewise, power demands drop dramatically as SSD’s require only limited power to operate, which is good for the pocket and the environment.

    Importantly, SSD’s contain no moving parts so are perfect for use in environments where devices need to be rugged or vibration is likely to be high.  Take a look at the solution we implemented for Landrover which incorporated SSD technology as a key component.

    Lastly, SSD’s omit no audible noise.  This makes them well-suited for noise-sensitive environments – in fact we’ve put this to the test in devices which we have deployed in environments ranging from restaurants to sound studios.

    We’re excited about the opportunities presented by SSD technology.  We are able to incorporate it across all of our products and it is becoming an increasingly vital ingredient in the bespoke solutions we build for our customers.

    If you’d like to know more about the inclusion of SSD in our products or believe the technology could lend itself to a challenge you face, please get in touch to talk further.

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

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