• King of workstations: Threadripper Pro 3995WX comes to G2

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    When we reported on AMD’s new Threadripper Pro 3995WX back in October we were really excited about what the processor promised.

    Threadripper Pro – billed as the ultimate processor for professional workstations it has done much to live up to this name. However, the flagship has gone even further. A ludicrous 64 core, 128 threads and 2TB of memory offers truly class-leading performance. Add in the 8x channel memory architecture and to get even close to this performance via other configs you’re looking at upgrading to a dual-socket processor and the price hikes that go with it.

    The 3995WX brings out the best in the much-vaunted 7nm process Zen 2 microarchitecture. We especially love the 128 lanes of PCIe 4.0 and with it the promise of all kinds of funky additives – whether you’re looking to beef-up on SSD, mix up your GFX cards, or flex on your network connectivity.

    At launch, one global device manufacturer had secured a period of exclusivity for inclusion of the 3995WX in their workstations. With that moratorium over, we’re pleased to announce that the 3995WX will soon be hitting our machines. While some supply restrictions persist, we’re confident that it won’t be subject to the same stock and board shortages seen elsewhere last year.

    Threadripper Pro 3995WX hitting G2 products

    So, what can you look forward to from our product line-up? The 3995WX will be featuring in 1U, 2U and 3U machines, which we will be announcing shortly. It means that whatever rack mount footprint you’re looking for we’ll be able to build a real powerhouse for you based on this extraordinary architecture.

    Of course, if you don’t need the brute performance on the 3995WX there are three other Threadripper Pro chips to choose between, all of which are available in select G2 Digital machines and still deliver blistering performance in their own right. With such a simple line-up, the chip selection headache that may have confronted you in the past while sizing up your workstation-class PC is actually heaps more straightforward with AMD.

    Roll-on Zen 3!

    With such impressive performance gains made possible, from Zen 2.0, we wait with bated breath as to what a Zen 3.0 variant might deliver. Lower end AMD Ryzen chips are already shipping from this architecture.

    To learn more about the AMD Threadripper Pro 3995WX and it’s inclusion in our PCs, get in touch.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes standout feature of Intel 11th Gen Rocket Lake

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    After first teasing the release during January’s virtual CES 2021 event, Intel has now confirmed the launch of its long-awaited Rocket Lake 11th Gen Series of CPUs, with this enhanced family of processors available alongside a new line of 11th Gen 500 series motherboards.

    Plenty of exciting capabilities have already been revealed in recent months, but now that this new chipset is finally available, what can we expect to see?

    The full Rocket Lake Line-up

    Intel has already revealed other product lines as part of its 11th Gen family, and this recent Rocket Lake release includes several processors that differ from the existing iterations available with the 11th Gen Tiger Lake Laptop CPU range.

    In total, the Rocket Lake family includes 8 new processors:

    • Intel Core i9-11900K
    • Intel Core i9-11900
    • Intel Core i7-11700K
    • Intel Core i7-11700
    • Intel Core i5-11600K
    • Intel Core i5-11600
    • Intel Core i5-11500
    • Intel Core i5-11400

    As well as a range of CPUs, the new 11th Gen 500 series of Motherboards has also been released, and includes 4 variations:

    • Z590
    • H570
    • B560
    • H510

    Solid foundations from a new architecture

    The new Rocket Lake family represents a significant milestone for Intel, with its new Cypress Cove architecture becoming the first new desktop CPU architecture released in just over 5 years.

    This new architecture builds on the existing Ice Lake 10nm architecture, but ports back to 14 nm to deliver higher performance at a more competitive price. In combination with its Xe Graphics architecture, Intel also predicts an increase of around 50% in GFX performance compared to 9th Gen integrated graphics.

    RAM overclocking for enhanced performance

    Another first with Rocket Lake CPUs is the availability of memory overclocking across various processors included within the series, with this capability set to be made available for the full range in the coming months.

    This is an important step for Intel, as overclocking RAM allows for cost-effective performance boosts and faster frame rates without the need for additional cooling provisions. Importantly, as RAM boosts only require a small amount of power, there’s also no need to add a larger PSU.

    Exciting expansion options with more PCIe slots

    Perhaps the most notable aspect of the Rocket Lake series is an increase in PCIe 4.0 lanes from 16 to 20. Firstly, PCIe 4.0 has double the throughput of the earlier 3.0 generation giving it some significant performance advantages. The additional lanes offer worthwhile expansion capability, especially when a typical GFX card will eat up the 16 lanes available on most motherboards.

    Importantly three of the new motherboards available with the 500 series, the Z590, H570, and the B560, support this PCIe change. The entry-level H510 board however is still limited to 16 slots.

    In our opinion, additional lane capability was the most impressive new feature revealed and offers plenty of exciting opportunities for expansion. With an additional 4 PCIe lanes now available with Rocket Lake, you have more headroom to add in additional PCIe devices, such as an SSD, or to make a connection directly to your CPU to help improve performance.

    Rocket Lake hits G2 machines

    We’ve selectively introduced the new 11th Gen processors into some of our high-performance systems. We’re excited about the configuration choices this will offer our customers; plus, some welcomed savings it represents. With the potential of the four additional PCIe lanes, upgrade to industrial class motherboard options to achieve this expansion may no longer be necessary for some builds.

    If you’d like to learn more about Intel’s new 11th Gen range of Rocket Lake processors and 500 series motherboards, and discuss how they could be integrated into your new rack or mini pc, get in touch with a member of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • NVIDIA’s RTX 3090 meets our 2U Nano: the perfect combo for vMix

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    It’s no secret that NVIDIA’s recent stock shortages have meant their graphics cards have been almost impossible to come by of late, however we’re very pleased to confirm that we’ve now managed to get our hands on several cards from their latest RTX 30 series. The most powerful GPUs to ever emerge from NVIDIA to date, these graphics cards are great news for anyone currently using popular video production software, vMix. Even better news is that we’ve engineered a solution to fit these new cards, including their flagship RTX 3090, into our high-performing 2U Nano. Impressively portable, the 2U Nano is ideal for hosting production software in sound- and space-sensitive environments. The perfect fit for a flight case thanks to its ultra-short-depth, it offers exceptional performance for both fixed installations and AV professionals on the move.

    Why vMix?

    We’ve seen a huge surge in demand from our customers for rack mount PCs able to host vMix’s live production and streaming software over recent months. This is largely down to the impact COVID-19 has had on the events industry – with so many previously physical events around the globe now going all-digital, vMix is fast becoming a go-to solution for streaming live events in real-time. Many more AV professionals are now looking to harness vMix’s capabilities and features as a result, but without the right machine and suitable graphics cards behind it, the software can very quickly run into performance issues.

    A compact solution for colossal performance

    The problem is, many AV installations that utilise vMix are restricted when it comes to rack space, and so require compact solutions that are still able to maximise the full potential of graphics performance, which can be difficult to achieve. This is particularly true of NVIDIA’s RTX 30 series of GPUs. Due to the colossal amount of graphics performance the cards make possible, they are actually that much deeper than their predecessors. Requiring 2.2 slots as opposed to dual-width, they are often better suited to larger servers able to accommodate their increased size. Knowing how many of our AV customers work in environments where space is a premium, we immediately set about redesigning part of our 2U Nano’s chassis to enable the cards to fit comfortably inside a much smaller form factor. An outstanding rack mount solution for a broad range of production software due to its portability, it was the perfect choice for vMix.

    Now great graphics can be added to the mix

    Our innovative redesign of the 2U Nano combined with the improved ray tracing functionality and impressive power offered by NVIDIA’s RTX 3090 GPU now provides the ideal solution for vMix. By making it possible for customers to enjoy the RTX 3090 within such a compact chassis, vMix’s capabilities can now be optimised in a much wider variety of environments, flexibility which could prove a game-changer when it comes to getting the most out of your graphics performance.

    If you would like to learn more about why the 2U Nano is the perfect fit for vMix, or discover how you can harness the power of NVIDIA’s RTX 30 series, please get in touch with one of the team.

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

  • NVIDIA stock shortage

    The great graphics card shortage won’t be improving any time soon

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    While we faced a number of stock shortages and supply challenges as a result of COVID-19 throughout most of last year, none have been as enduring as the current constraints of NVIDIA’s RTX 30 series of GPUs. The unfortunate truth is that this situation is unlikely to improve until later this year, with shortages potentially even extending well into May.

    How bad is it?

    For those unaware, the current demand for NVIDIA’s latest graphics cards is at an all-time high, and as a result, production just doesn’t have sufficient capacity to keep up. Even three-year-old cards aren’t available for purchase, and any time these highly sought-after graphics do appear online, they’re snapped up in mere seconds for an extortionate price. The shortage is also affecting the availability of AMD’s new Radeon RX 6000 series, which along with the RTX 30 GPUs are now almost impossible to track down, let alone buy. Previous generations of graphics cards are also sadly out of the question, as these were read their end of life rites when NVIDIA released its latest offering.

    What’s causing the shortage?

    A number of factors have been deemed responsible for these constraints, the primary of which seems to be a shortage of the materials required for production, such as wafers and silicone. NVIDIA has also stated that a lack of GDDR6 memory is to blame for the delays. COVID-19, of course, has a part to play in this, as shipping and freight costs have felt a substantial impact due to the restrictions imposed by the virus. Online gaming has also increased exponentially over the past year as the confines of lockdown have continued, generating an even greater global surge for GPUs.

    Cryptocurrency is a contributor

    What hasn’t helped matters is that the value of popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin skyrocketed in recent months. This has meant any graphics cards that do become available are instantly snatched away by eager crypto-miners, as the GPUs are an ideal way of improving the mining process. This is reminiscent of the GPU shortages we experienced as a result of crypto-mining in 2017, however the big difference is that this time around crypto-miners are not the cause of the shortage, but still a large part of the problem.

    How might this impact my G2 order?

    While we are still experiencing some challenges due to these NVIDIA and AMD stock shortages, we’re doing everything we can to minimise the impact on customer orders. We’re incredibly grateful for your patience during this time, and assure you any G2 products you have yet to receive will be well worth the wait. If you’d like to find out more about these GPU shortages and how they may affect your order, please get in touch with us.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • CES 2021

    A very different CES 2021 still yielded exciting innovations

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Like so many events that preceded it in 2020, COVID-19 has paved the way for a radically different CES this year. The global stage for innovation would have usually taken place amidst the bright lights and bustle of Las Vegas, but instead CES 2021 had to become their first ever all-digital event. While many industry events have translated particularly well to a virtual alternative, the ordinarily very hands-on CES was an odd experience to say the least. However, although it didn’t quite have the awe-inspiring impact it would have achieved in the flesh, it was nonetheless an impressive platform for the reveal of many exciting new releases.

    Intel 11th gen CPUs came into their own

    Intel announced a whole wave of new 11th gen series processors, including their 10nm Core vPro and Evo vPro mobile chips, N-series of Pentium Silver and Celeron CPUs for education, and Tiger Lake H35-series for “ultraportable” gaming. The best news by far, however, was that the Core S-series Rocket Lake desktop processors would be launched in March 2021. These chips will be led by the flagship i9-11900K, offer faster DDR4-3200 memory, and a 19% increase in IPC performance. Alder Lake is also on its way, built on Intel’s 10nm SuperFin architecture with both high-performance and high-efficiency cores. Finally, production of Xeon Scalable Ice Lake CPUs will be kicking off in Q1. This series will help boost performance, security, and efficiency in datacentres. We can’t wait to see what else Intel has up its sleeve this year, particularly as VMware’s Pat Gelsinger has recently become its new CEO.

    Less is more for AMD

    Comparatively, AMD kept its cards a little closer to its chest this year. Their biggest reveal of the event was the launch of the Ryzen 5000 series of mobile CPUs. Based on the same 7nm Zen 3 architecture as its desktop predecessors, the mobile equivalents promise an uplift in performance as well as longer battery life. The announcement was also accompanied by new Ryzen 9 5900 and Ryzen 7 5800 processors, which offer a lower TDP than the 5900X and 5950X. There was, though, a certain absence of Big Navi talk from the chipmaker, aside from the fact that the RDNA2 GPUs will be appearing in gaming laptops in the first half of 2021.

    NVIDIA expands its graphics card line-up

    Further adding to its already significant RTX 30 series of graphics cards, NVIDIA announced the new GeForce RTX 3060 at CES. An Ampere desktop GPU, the RTX 3060 is a compelling alternative to the RTX 3060 Ti and 3070, with 12GB of GDDR6 memory as opposed to 8GB, and a boost clock speed of 1.78GHz compared to 1.67GHz and 1.73GHz respectively. A notable difference, however, is that the 3060 only boasts 3584 CUDA cores, a modest count that doesn’t quite measure up to the 4864 CUDA cores of the 3060 Ti and 5888 CUDA cores of the 3070. The 3060 is expected to become available in late February, but with NVIDIA’s recent stock shortages in mind, it may be an even longer wait.

    While the virtual CES 2021 wasn’t quite the same as its physical counterpart, a lot of interesting releases still made it a very worthwhile event. We’re looking forward to the launch of these products so that we can start getting them into our rack mount PCs. If you would like to find out more about these announcements and when they might become available within our product range, get in touch with one of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • 2020

    A look back on 2020, a year no one will forget

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    2020 has been a year unlike any other. No one could have anticipated the global impact and sheer scale of the COVID-19 pandemic since its initial outbreak at the tail end of 2019. Despite its unwelcomed arrival, however, and the challenges it has presented over the past year, 2020 has also provided a platform for a number of new and exciting innovations. With the Christmas break fast approaching and the New Year within touching distance, we’ve decided to take a look back over the events of 2020 and their effect on our partners, our own business, and the industry as a whole.

    All hail AMD

    Although 2020 has been rife with stock shortages and supply chain delays, the good news from AMD has kept on coming. Kicking off the year with the launch of their 64-core Ryzen Threadripper 3990X processor at CES 2020, they really started with a bang. And it was only uphill from there – the Ryzen 4000 series of desktop processors offered breakthrough performance for desktop PCs following its release over the summer, but was quickly overshadowed by the Ryzen 5000 series which marked the arrival of their highly anticipated Zen 3 architecture and the “world’s best gaming CPU”. That’s all without mention of their introduction of 8-channel memory in the Threadripper PRO 3995WX too.

    Game-changing graphics

    2020 also made way for Intel’s new and disruptive Xe range of discrete graphics, which have most recently come to life inside the Intel NUC 11 Pro Tiger Canyon. Like AMD, we’ve seen two generations of processors emerge from Intel this year, with the release of their 10th gen Comet Lake-S and 11th gen Tiger Lake chips, both of which are now available across our line-up of rack mount PCs. Speaking of great graphics, we announced last month that NVIDIA’s RTX 30 series of GPUs was coming to selected models of our product range. These graphics cards truly are a game-changer for ray tracing in particular, accelerating performance by up to 2x.

    A great year for G2!

    In spite of a few stock and pricing difficulties encountered due to the virus early on, it’s been an exciting and productive year for G2 overall. We started 2020 on a high with our second appearance at Integrated Systems Europe, the world’s largest systems integration show, where we debuted new Power over Ethernet capability in our 1U products as well as the vertical variation of our 3U PC. Additionally, 2020 saw the launch of our Support Portal, helping us deliver even greater support and real-time order information to our customers. We also introduced the benefits of U.2 connectors to our products, made Dual PCIe possible within our 1U PC and 1U Nano, and added three new redundant power supply unit options to our range. To top it all off, we’re currently working on a brand-new product, the 1U Titan, which we hope to officially launch in the first half of 2021.

    While 2020 has been a strange year to say the least, a lot of good has still come out of it, and we’re excited to see where 2021 takes us. There’s plenty to look forward to on the horizon, but until then we would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • Ray tracing graphics cards

    Realise more from ray tracing in a rack mount PC

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Simply put, a computer’s graphics processing unit (GPU) is there to make graphics look good. Its purpose is to render the 3D visual images being processed by a PC to then bring them to life on a 2D screen. Heavily relied upon by both the gaming and the audio-visual industry, graphics can be critical to any creative project.

    Over the last decade or so, significant steps have been taken towards helping graphics produce a higher degree of visual realism. One such step is ray tracing, which allows artists to work with light in order to achieve this. While this technique isn’t by any means new, its gradual introduction into the mainstream combined with its revolutionary rendering capabilities has propelled it into popularity in recent years.

    What is ray tracing?

    Ray tracingRay tracing is a graphics rendering technique that traces rays of light and simulates how that light interacts with different objects. Using ray tracing, it is possible to achieve truly life-like imitations of how light and shadows behave within a digital scene, as it calculates this behaviour much like the human eye is able to. The difficulty is, because ray tracing is so advanced, it’s exceedingly compute-heavy and can be expensive to power.

    Thankfully, consumer-grade ray tracing is slowly gaining traction, and reduces this load drastically. It works by tracking the path of light from what is essentially a virtual camera through individual pixels to the object sat behind those pixels, and back to the light source. It can even go so far as to account for light that is absorbed by objects within a scene and creates shadows to represent this change.

    Why does it matter?

    Because the quality of graphics is increasing by the day, it’s essential to be able to render those graphics as accurately as possible. That goes for anything from the CGI used in film-making right down to the graphics-intensive apps you use every day. Before ray tracing came along, a process called “rasterization” was widely used to render scenes using polygons and shaders. However, because the behaviour of light and the way it travels is so hard to track, rasterization wasn’t sophisticated enough to achieve the degree of realism that ray tracing can. Ray tracing has massively accelerated what’s possible from visual rendering and enabled graphics to become more life-like than ever before.

    Choose rack mount for ray tracing

    For a long time, ray tracing has only been supported by NVIDIA graphics cards, however AMD have very recently entered the race with the RX 6800 XT, their very first ray tracing enabled GPU. In addition to already hosting several NVIDIA cards within our product range, we recently revealed that their new RTX 30 series of GPUs is now available in selected models of our rack mount PCs. This series offers considerable performance improvements for ray tracing among a host of other benefits. Combined with the compact size and high-performance of our rack mount PCs, you’ll realise the full value of ray tracing’s rendering capabilities.

    If you would like to learn more about ray tracing or find out how you can harness NVIDIA’s RTX 30 series in our rack mount products, please get in touch.

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