• AV Awards Finalist

    AV Awards finalist for the second year running!

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    We’re absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted for the AV Awards 2019’s coveted Manufacturer of the Year award! This is our second year running as a finalist, after our 2U Nano was a contender for Production Product of the Year in 2018. It’s brilliant to once again be recognised for the innovation, dedication, and ingenuity that goes into creating our PCs, especially when the other ‘shortlisters’ are such esteemed names in the industry.

    G2 at Judging Day

    For the very first time this year, our submission involved more than a written account of what we do and how we do it. In addition to this, we were selected from more than 70 entries in our category and invited to attend a Judging Day in Canary Wharf. Here, our Managing Director, Chris Hollidge was asked to give a presentation and further demonstrate our credentials as a worthy winner, taking questions from a panel of industry experts along the way. His efforts must have impressed as we’re now one of ten finalists in the running for Manufacturer of the Year.

    It would mean the world to win

    It’s a massive honour for us to simply be shortlisted for this award, particularly in a category with such outstanding nominees, and if we were to win it would be an incredible achievement. We’re really looking forward to the awards night itself, which will take place at Battersea Evolution in London this November, and cannot wait to toast the winner regardless of who takes away the trophy. Best of luck to all finalists – we’re elated to join you!

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News

  • PCIe lanes

    A simple guide to understanding PCIe lanes

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    For the sake of achieving a more cost-effective solution, it is often the case that the number of PCIe lanes available in given processors is largely overestimated. Importantly, the maximum number of available PCIe lanes varies with different series of chip – for example, Intel’s Desktop ‘i’ CPUs have a maximum of 16 PCIe lanes – so ultimately, the number of PCIe lanes on offer across the board on consumer grade CPUs just isn’t enough. Offering only 16 to 20 lanes at the very most, this would typically only enable you to connect only two graphics cards, which for larger, more complex applications doesn’t cut it.

    The problem with PLX switchers

    Most of the time, when an application requires more than one graphics card, users look for motherboards with lots of PCIe slots, but in these cases manufacturers will turn to a PLX switcher. PLX switchers supposedly resolve the issue by multiplexing the PCIe lanes, essentially switching lanes on and off as needed depending on where a device is detected, so you can use more. This can practically double the number of lanes ‘available’, which sounds ideal. The problem with this is that by constantly switching lanes, a bottleneck is created, which when running at high performance can slow things down considerably. So, while a PLX switcher may allow you to use more lanes, you won’t truly achieve the performance you need from your expansion cards.

    The downside is, without a switch, every device needs its own dedicated connection to the CPU, so it’s easy to run out of available lanes very quickly. So, what’s the solution?

    More lanes, more performance

    The simple answer is that you need more lanes. It’s easy to settle for a lower grade CPU to keep costs down, but if it isn’t achieving everything required of it, there’s really no use in having it at all. By comparison, Intel’s Xeon and X299 workstation processors have a far larger number of PCIe lanes, which can generally be anywhere from 28 to 48 lanes – a vast improvement from consumer CPUs.

    We recently demonstrated this to one of our customers, who needed 20 lanes of data to fit two high-performing graphics cards, as well as a 10GB Ethernet port on their motherboard. We rebuilt the unit to allow for their requirements which has now enabled them to plug in the two cards they needed ready for their application.

    Do your research

    When it comes to PCIe lanes, we would really recommend doing some thorough research into the CPUs you’re looking to invest in to get the most you possibly can out of them. This is especially important due to the fact that some companies now have a tendency to combine both the CPU and chipset PCIe lane counts to promote the highest number, which can be misleading. Just remember to be aware of what you’re buying into.

    If you would like to better understand how to get the most out of your PCIe lanes, or need advice choosing the right chip for your machine get in touch with one of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: Technical Articles

  • 3U PC front

    Get ready to meet our brand-new unit: the 3U PC

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    We’re excited to officially reveal that we have a brand-new rackmount unit in the works – the 3U PC. The very first 3U computer to join our ever-expanding line-up of Mini and Rack PCs, we’ve created the 3U PC in response to an increasing demand for multi GPU configurations.

    Why are multiple GPU slots so hard to come by?

    The fundamental issue with consumer grade GPUs, while cost effective, is that they come built with power connectors on their top edge. This means they are generally very tall, and difficult to fit into more compact, space-sensitive PCs, restricting the number of graphics cards that can be deployed in a single unit. By comparison, the power connectors on ‘professional’ cards can be found on the back of the GPU rather than the top edge, thereby only affecting case depth, which is a much easier challenge to negotiate.

    Enter the 3U PC

    Our new 3U PC was designed to alleviate the issues associated with multiple GPU slots. As the need for PCs with a smaller height but sufficient room for more expansion cards continues to grow, our 3U case allows professional GPUs to be mounted vertically, making it possible for customers to add several to their unit.

    Available in two variants, the 3U PC takes both pro and consumer cards into consideration. The first variant will offer 7x full height single bays able to fit up to 3x dual-width NVIDIA RTX or AMD professional graphics cards. The second variant rises the bays through 90 degrees, offering 5x full height single bays able to fit up to 2x dual-width NVIDIA RTX/GTX consumer graphics cards.

    3U PC rear alternate variant3U PC rear variant

    But that’s not all there is to get excited about – the 3U PC is bursting with other brilliant features:

    • 425(W) x 547(D) x 133(H) mm
    • 4x 3.5” or 8x 2.5” hot swap bays
    • Dual Socket AMD EPYC or Intel Xeon CPU Support
    • Water-cooling functionality (optional)
    • Redundant power supply (optional)
    • DVD/Blu-ray Bay (Optional)

    Proving three’s not a crowd

    We can confirm that the 3U PC has now been fully designed and is currently awaiting initial production samples, but we don’t anticipate it’ll be very long before the new unit joins our family of compact and rackmount PCs. We anticipate availability in around 5 weeks’ time, so watch this space for any updates on how you can get your hands on one.

    If you would like to learn more about the 3U PC, or any of our other products, please get in touch with one of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • Intel i9-9900KS

    Meet Intel’s powerhouse processor, the i9-9900KS

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Officially announced at Computex 2019, Intel recently unveiled its latest 9th gen processor, the i9-9900KS, and boy, is it a powerhouse. The new chip’s capabilities are already blowing its impressive predecessor, the i9-9900K, out of the water, given the fact that it’s optimised to run every one of its 8 cores at a Turbo frequency of 5GHz straight out of the box. By comparison, Intel’s current flagship i9-9900K can only hit 5GHz on a single core with a Turbo speed that’s a whole 300MHz slower.

    What’s the difference?

    Beyond the startling ability to achieve 5GHz all-core Turbo, with claims that this speed can be reached consistently in any scenario, there isn’t an overwhelming difference between the i9-9900KS and the i9-9900K. A “special edition” variant, the i9-9900KS is set to deliver 5GHz during both single and multi-core workloads, and has a base frequency of 4GHz in contrast to the i9-9900K’s 3.6GHz, but still uses a 14nm++ process as well as the same silicon, only better binned. Maintaining both 16MB of L3 cache and UHD 630 graphics, the new CPU is also ready for the same motherboards as its older cousin, but does include a small firmware update.

    Still speculating

    Intel surprisingly didn’t offer much more information at Computex than had already been previously revealed about the i9-9900KS. We’re still yet to know a definitive price point or its thermal design power (TDP), although based on the performance and power consumption of the i9-9900K, we’re pretty certain that the chip will get seriously hot and require a lot of power. Following our successful implementation of water-cooling functionality in a recent customer project that involved overclocking the i9-9900K, we anticipate that similar measures will need to be employed to ensure the i9-9900KS doesn’t cause your machine to overheat.

    The i9-9900KS is due to launch in Q4 of this year, so we should see more information about it emerging over the next few months. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the CPU or when this will become available in our line-up of products, please speak to one of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News

  • Water-cooled 2U rack PC

    We water-cooled Intel’s i9-9900K in an epic 2U rack PC

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    We know just how important it is to ensure our customers are always getting the most out of their choice of processor – it’s one of the many reasons why we’re constantly developing and refining our versatile line-up of Rack and Mini PCs. A recent example saw us commissioned by our customer Epic Games to engineer a solution that would mean they could run Intel’s flagship i9-9900K CPU at its Turbo frequency of 5GHz for a sustained period of time – a feat that presented some interesting challenges.

    Overclocking is not a game

    A video game and software development company, Epic Games is renowned for many highly successful video games, including the hit sensation Fortnite. Driven by the need for powerful, responsive and stable compute, Epic Games’ initial requirement was for a machine that could achieve a Turbo speed of 5GHz across the first couple of the processor’s cores only. However, the only way to ensure this speed was consistently reached while maintaining stability was by fully overclocking the Intel chip, meaning all cores would need to be activated.

    Playing it cool

    Water-cooling 2U PC

    The drawback of overclocking the CPU to this extent was that it resulted in the processor’s power consumption almost doubling from 95W to 180W. This massive leap caused the host 2U PC to reach temperatures of up to 85 degrees – a mere 15 degrees less than Tjunction, Intel’s recommended maximum. The reason for this surge in heat was largely down to the CPU’s die surface area, which was little more than the size of a stamp. Dissipating the heat from such a small area is tricky, and as such, we knew that the only way of solving the challenge was to introduce water-cooling. By bringing the CPU’s hot surface into contact with a cool, temperature-controlled liquid, we managed to successfully lower the i9-9900K’s temperature and thereby cool the 2U PC down to a safe operating range that wouldn’t exceed 70 degrees.

    An epic solution

    2U PC water-cooled IntelOur solution didn’t just stop at water-cooling, either. Because most off-the-shelf water-cooling components aren’t typically designed for smaller units, their height can be difficult to accommodate. To ensure Epic Games’ solution was able to fit neatly inside a compact 2U PC, we therefore had to reengineer the Alphacool water-cooling parts we had selected by reducing their height while retaining their effectiveness. This perfectly suited Epic Games’ space-sensitive deployment needs. The depth of the case also presented a different challenge – as the 2U PC is a deeper unit, it needed greater airflow to circulate and expel the CPU’s heat. We designed fans specifically to accomplish this task, enabling Epic Games to truly get the most from the i9-9900K. Finally, we kitted the 2U unit out with a redundant power supply, protecting the processor from any downtime due to a power failure. The result of some rigorous testing, the final product was a sophisticated solution that did exactly what Epic Games needed it to.

    If you would like to find out more about how water-cooling could benefit your PC’s CPU, or how we can help you maximise your choice of processor, get in touch with one of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: Products

  • CEDIA member

    G2 Digital is now an official CEDIA member!

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Following our successful debut as an exhibitor at Integrated Systems Europe back in February, we’re now thrilled to confirm that we will be returning to Amsterdam for a second year, and this time as an official member of CEDIA, one of the event’s main sponsors.

    Our CEDIA membership

    With almost 3700 member companies worldwide, CEDIA is the leading global authority for the home technology industry. Becoming a CEDIA member is a great accolade for G2, recognising the specialised rackmounted products we manufacture for residential solutions. From control PCs used for access points or even media servers in bigger properties that augment entertainment systems and lighting displays, we have a comprehensive line-up of technology solutions for use in the home.

    Excited for the future

    As an official CEDIA Trade Supplier Member, we enjoy a wealth of benefits that will no doubt have advantages for our customers in the long run. We’re already very excited for our second appearance at ISE, and with CEDIA’s support behind us are now looking to take our presence at next year’s show to the next level. “We’re proud to have gained CEDIA membership in readiness for ISE 2020,” commented our MD, Chris Hollidge. “Being a member of such a well-respected community is a fantastic acknowledgment of our growing residential business and how we’re helping our customers benefit from home technology.”

    To find out more about what our CEDIA membership means or to learn more about our plans for ISE 2020, get in touch with one of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News

  • What the F? Where are the graphics in Intel ‘F’ processors?

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Intel’s 9th generation Core i5 processors are regarded as some of the most popular CPUs in the world, able to offer incredible performance with the added bonus of integrated graphics capabilities. It would have been safe to assume, therefore, that future releases would be along very similar lines, but Intel has recently thrown a bit of a curveball by revealing the ‘F-series’, a re-worked variation of their existing i5 processors, only this time with graphics removed.

    What are the reasons for this?

    In short, the main motivation for removing graphics is production time. It’s cheaper and quicker to produce standalone CPUs without the integration of graphics. With the well-publicised shortage of Intel processors still taking effect, the move to the ‘F-series’ will enable Intel to better meet the incredible level of demand for their products, while also allowing them to more easily expand their existing chip line-up going forward.

    What does this all mean?

    One obvious implication for those choosing to use to any of the latest ‘F-series’ processors is that you will now have to pair this with a separate GPU. There is an upside, however – without the unwanted influence of additional graphics built into your Intel processor, you can expect a better level of performance at a reduced cost.

    Minus the need for graphics, we anticipate the new 9th generation CPUs will become far more readily available over the coming months once they’ve officially launched. And with the latest Intel i5 CPUs now at a more competitive price and able to meet demand faster, this will mean that the impact Intel’s chip shortage had on our product prices and lead times should soon subside and expectations return to normal.

    If you’d like more information on the latest range of 9th generation Intel Core i5 processors, the ‘F-series’, and how you can enjoy your CPU without built-in graphics in one of our Rack or Mini PCs, please get in touch.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News