• Hybrid 12th Gen processors herald new age for Intel

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Having just recently released its latest line-up of 11th Gen Rocket Lake processors, Intel is already looking to the future with a new 12th Gen family in the works.

    Codenamed Alder Lake, 12th Gen processors are set to be the first chipset built using a hybrid design, a significant milestone for Intel that represents the first major processor overhaul for a number of years.

    What is a hybrid architecture?

    Having previously been used for less-powerful mobile devices, hybrid architecture is increasingly being adopted for use with laptop and desktop processors.

    Otherwise known as big.LITTLE design, a hybrid architecture sees low power, high-efficiency cores combined with high-performance dual-thread cores to create a more versatile processor. This means that a single chip can simultaneously support both low urgency background tasks, and heavier, more demanding workloads.

    Alder Lake chips are set to use two variations of core. Golden Cove architecture, an evolution of 11th Gen chips’ Willow Cove, will be used for more powerful cores, with smaller cores based on the low-power Gracemont Atom.

    Due to the combination of core types, the core count for Alder Lake chips will also follow a new convention, with the 16 core products described as 8+8. Processors of this size will include 24 threads, with the 8 Golden Cove cores all dual-threaded.

    What else is new with Alder Lake?

    While full specs are yet to be released, some interesting details have already emerged.

    It’s expected that Alder Lake will include 3 processor tracks within a single line-up, with Alder Lake-S, -P, and -M for desktop, laptop, and mobile respectively.

    Alder Lake is also the first chipset to use the new SuperFin 10nm production process, Intel’s first new desktop node for over 6 years.

    There’s also Intel Xe integrated graphics, and support for new technology such as PCIe 5.0. An LGA 1700 socket means that there is no compatibility with legacy motherboards such as the Z490 and Z590.

    When can we expect to see 12th Gen processors?

    No release date has been confirmed, but it’s expected that Alder Lake will be released before the end of the year.

    Until then, we’re interested to see what performance benchmarks begin to emerge, and we’re excited to see what this new 12th Gen line-up can add to our selection of mini and rackmount PCs.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News

  • The new 11th Gen Intel NUCs are here . . .

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Back in December we shared our excitement at the imminent release of Intel’s new 11th Gen NUCs, the first Intel NUCs to contain the new range of 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors.

    Now, we’re pleased to confirm that both the NUC 11 Enthusiast and Pro, otherwise known as Phantom and Tiger Canyon, are available as part of our range, both as standard and fanless variations.

    With some exciting new features, Intel’s 11th Gen NUCs promise improved performance compared to previous generations. We’ve also used the release as an opportunity to test out some important improvements to our bespoke fanless versions.

    What to expect from 11th Gen NUCs?

    As well as the inclusion of Tiger Lake processors, both 11th Gen NUCs come equipped with integrated graphics thanks to Intel Iris Xe.

    Full features of 11th Gen NUCs include:

    • Dual 4K HDMI 2.0 ports Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports – USB3 and 4K Video Output
    • Intel i225 2.5Gbps NIC
    • Internal AC/DC PSU
    • Power over Ethernet and DC Power Input
    • Additional Gigabit NIC Port Option

    What changes are coming to the Fanless NUC?

    The launch of the 11th Gen NUCs has presented a welcomed opportunity to explore improvements to our fanless variant, the most significant of which is a change to the manufacturing process.

    Whereas the first iteration of our Fanless NUC was custom machined, as part of a new research and development project we’ve utilised a more efficient dye cast process. Crucially, this is a more cost-effective method of production, and will allow us to supply Fanless NUCs at a more competitive price point.

    We’ve also explored the addition of a new custom heat pipe system to improve heat distribution throughout the unit. This allows heat from the processor core to be spread across the entire unit more evenly, helping to better reduce the overall core temperature and deliver increased performance as a result.

    If you’d like to learn more about 11th Gen NUCs or any of our other products, speak with a member of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • 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