• Coffee Lake Core i7-8700k

    We take a look at what Intel has been brewing: Coffee Lake

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Since its launch back in August, we’ve been on the lookout for news on Intel’s new 8th generation chip line. While we’ve seen our fair share of Kaby Lake-related talk, it’s only recently that news of their aptly codenamed “Coffee Lake” has started to surface. The new architecture uses a 14nm++ production process, stemming from its 14nm ancestor, Broadwell, and following on from Kaby Lake’s 14nm+ process. True to its name, Coffee Lake’s range of 8th generation processors packs some serious power, and has received notable praise for its performance.

    G2’s interest, though, lies particularly in the 8th gen Core i7-8700k processor. Boasting no less than 6 Hyper-Threaded cores and 12 threads, this CPU has been built with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, making it easily overclockable, jumping up to a 4.7GHz boost clock speed from a 3.7GHz base. Being unlocked, hence the tell-tale ‘k’ attached to its name, the CPU can really be pushed to reach its full potential, allowing users to custom tune their PCs for ultimate performance.

    Intel claims the Core i7-8700k will be their “best gaming desktop processor ever”.  It’s thanks to some seriously exciting specs that will also see the technology re-purposed into also sorts of different deployments, which is why it’s piqued our interest:

    • 6 cores, 12 threads
    • 4.7GHz boost clock
    • 3.7GHz base clock
    • 14nm++
    • 12MB cache memory
    • 95W Thermal Design Power (TDP)
    • 4K Support
    • Support for DDR4-2666 memory

    This leap in core count also extends across Intel’s 8th gen i5 and i3 processors, with 6 cores and 4 cores respectively. In addition to their hiked processing power, the 8th gen Coffee Lake CPUs are also purpose-built for speed, accuracy, and content creation. The key thing that makes them stand out, however, is affordability. When compared with AMD’s latest Ryzen processors, the 8th gen Core line-up is far more reasonable and accessible.

    The only sticking point we can see with Coffee Lake is the fact that it does require a new Z370 motherboard, as the CPUs are not compatible with older generations. Having said that, it does seem as though changing motherboards may well be worth doing, given the many benefits Coffee Lake offers.

    We’re still waiting on Intel to go beyond their desktop and mobile CPUs and launch the Core chips for enterprise in a Commercial variant so we can start getting them into our Rack and Mini PCs. It’s likely that these will be released within the first half of this year, so keep one eye on our blog for any updates.

    If you’d like to know more about what Intel’s 8th generation of CPUs has to offer, get in touch.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News

  • Tiny PC

    Our Tiny PC gets some big changes!

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    In recent months many of our machines have received updates or re-designs.  It’s part of the ongoing innovation cycle we go through to keep our family of products at the forefront of what’s possible and relevant to our customers’ needs.  We currently have our attention turned to customer favourite, the Tiny PC.

    Squeezing excellent componentry and solid performance into a small-scale, value for money package, the Tiny PC is a sound choice for all sorts of requirements. With new processor variations now available, it’s due an upgrade to keep up with modern standards.  However, the new Tiny PC won’t simply be a next-generation of the same machine, we have taken the opportunity to transform it into a more advanced and versatile unit. We won’t be departing from the original formula that has made the Tiny so popular, but the updates will offer more flexibility, including range-topping processor options and most importantly a full height PCIe slot which we have fitted into the same small form factor design.

    Don’t be fooled by its 215(W) x 205(D) x 80(H)mm case size; the new Tiny is packed with some big features:

    • Full height PCIe x16 slot
    • Intel i7, Xeon and Fanless CPU options
    • Wall mountable
    • Optional RS232 port

    Given its compact design and the capability to wall mount the unit, the Tiny PC offers flexible installation options.  Plus, the addition of an optional RS232 serial port provides greater connectivity with your peripheral devices, and fanless options mean you won’t need to worry about noise, either.

    We’re in the process of getting our new-look Tiny PC ready before the grand unveiling – keep your eyes peeled for its launch, it won’t be long until you see the enhanced Mini PC in all its glory.

    If you would like to learn more about what to expect from our upgraded Tiny PC, or want to understand the Mini PC options available to you from our product line-up, please speak to one of the team.

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

  • GTX 1070 Ti

    Introducing NVIDIA’s new kid on the block, the 1070 Ti

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Last month, our article about NVIDIA’s ground-breaking new Volta architecture hinted that there may also be a new GeForce graphics card in the works, the GTX 1070 Ti. We can confirm that this new GPU was in fact officially launched in the latter half of October after much deliberation over its existence. We’re really excited by this news, considering the demand we’ve been seeing for the GTX 1080 Ti GPUs within our products over the past few months.

    While as yet we don’t have the full details of NVIDIA’s latest creation to share following the launch, what we can confirm is that the GPU will sit comfortably in-between their high-end GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 cards. Its performance, though, does leave its older sibling, the 1070, in the dark – this will instead come close to rivalling the 1080 at only around 5% short of its power.

    Its memory capability won’t quite reach the dizzying heights of the 1080 and 1080 Ti, however, with 8GB of GDDR5 rather than GDDR5X memory, this time resembling the 1070’s specs.

    The remainder of its specs continue to borrow from its close relatives:

    • Pascal architecture
    • Base clock of 1607 MHz
    • Boost clock of 1683 MHz
    • 8GB GDDR5 memory
    • 180 TDP
    • 2432 CUDA cores
    • Only one streaming multiprocessor (SM) disabled

    Leading up to the new GPU’s launch, a lot of speculation surrounded whether NVIDIA is blocking overclocking for the GTX 1070 Ti – as far as we know, they will not be. It’s possible that they will be locked for hardware manufacturers on release only, but our research indicates that manual overclocking will still be enabled.

    We’re keeping our ears to the ground for any further news on the GTX 1070 Ti, but in the meantime we’ll be looking to see how we can best accommodate the new GPU within our products in order to optimise its graphics potential for our customers.

    If you’re interested in finding out more about the GTX 1070 Ti, or else would like to discuss how we use NVIDIA GPUs in our range of Rack and Mini PCs, please do get in touch.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • Volta

    NVIDIA’s Volta architecture – the next step in GPUs

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    In recent months we’ve readied a number of our machines to deliver an exceptional graphics experience. Much of this has been made possible by NVIDIA’s GTX 10xx-series graphics cards, which we have already implemented into several of our popular units to satisfy a wide variety of different applications.

    Most notably, we’re in the process of building our very first 4U Rack PC – the 4U Nano. This powerful yet compact machine is the only one of our current product line-up able to accommodate multiple high-end graphics cards, such as the GTX 1080 Ti and M6000, which is why we’ve got our eye on NVIDIA’s latest innovation.

    Introducing Volta

    NVIDIA has taken its GPUs to the next level with an entirely new architecture called Volta. Volta has been purpose-built for artificial intelligence, recognising the monumental influence the technology is beginning to have in a number of industries and its ability to solve problems previously thought unsolvable.

    Born from Volta is their most powerful GPU to date, the ground-breaking Tesla V100. Just one of these GPUs delivers comparable performance to 100 CPUs, making it an ideal match for High Performance Computing (HPC) and heavy compute workloads. Its main function, though, seems to be rooted in deep learning, a branch of AI that ‘learns’ about data in order to make sense of it. As well as massive leaps forward in bandwidth since their earlier Tesla P100, the V100 GPU offers 12x more deep learning training performance than its predecessor.

    On top of that, it boasts some incredible specs:

    • 640 Tensor cores
    • 12nm process
    • 21bn transistors
    • 900 GB/sec

    While the Tesla V100 is a GPU exclusive to the data centre, we cannot wait to see what the rest of the Volta architecture will yield. It’s unlikely that we’ll get to enjoy the benefits of this exciting new processor family until 2018, but in the meantime, we may have a new GeForce GPU to look forward to, in the GTX 1070 Ti.

    We’re intrigued by what Volta could mean for our products, and will continue to do our research to ensure we’re pairing our customers with the best graphics technology on the market.

    If you would like to learn more about the new Volta architecture, or else discover how we’ve applied NVIDIA’s graphics cards to our machines, please get in touch.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • vMix

    vMix is mixing up video production software

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Over the past couple of months, we’ve regularly been approached by several customers with a demand for systems compatible with the popular video production software from vMix. Live video production and streaming software, vMix has recently shot to popularity due to its seamless, cost-effective, and high-quality output. Feature-rich, it enables users to stream, mix, and publish live productions with ease in HD, SD and even 4K.

    To get the best out of your investment in vMix requires powerful, reliable host hardware.  We’ve turned all of our audio-visual know-how to creating some suitable reference builds for anyone looking for a PC to run vMix.  We now have a number of Rack PC options ready to enhance your vMix experience.  These systems include:

    • Best-in-class 7th generation Intel processors
    • Options for multiple full-size PCIe cards in the same chassis
    • The choice of powerful graphics cards like the GTX 1080Ti
    • Ultra-fast SSD hard drives
    • Small form factor designs ready for the production studio

    The configurations are perfectly suited to meeting the video production demands of vMix, seamlessly enabling multiple cameras, a variety of device inputs, HD recording and streaming.  Industrialised componentry and redundant power supplies also offer valuable peace of mind during critical production projects.

    We’re big fans of this software, and have already started pairing our customers with our new machine builds.

    If you’re seeking a vMix-compatible unit, or would like to know more about our machines, please speak to one of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • Intel 8th generation

    Solar eclipse sheds some light on Intel’s 8th generation

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Aligning their launch in time with the solar eclipse, Intel released the first round of information surrounding their 8th generation core processors last month. Teasing out the anticipation for Coffee Lake, it was revealed that the latest laptop and desktop chipsets will instead be based on Kaby Lake architecture, with the promise of Coffee and Cannonlake still to come in the near future.

    Karen Regis of Intel’s Mobility Group claims that their 8th generation will house their “most powerful technology to date”, the Kaby Lake Refresh and Coffee Lake CPUs maintaining a 14nm architecture with Cannonlake ushering in a new era of 10nm chips.

    While only the laptop and notebook specs for the 8th gen were officially discussed during the livestreamed launch, we can still draw a number of conclusions as to what we can expect from the Commercial and Enterprise editions.

    Here’s what the first instalment of the 8th gen processors will be bringing to the table:

    • 40% performance over previous Kaby Lake architecture
    • 4K content playback
    • UHD 620 graphics
    • Support for Windows 10
    • Quad-core processor
    • Virtual and mixed reality capabilities

    Though we can’t say for certain how these features will translate to the Commercial line-up of the CPUs, what is clear is that the 8th gen will be a significant step up in terms of performance from previous Intel generations, offering a faster, better, and simpler experience.

    We’ll have to wait until later in the autumn for a proper glimpse at the products for Enterprise, but until then we’ll be keeping an eye out for any more news on Coffee Lake and readying our products for the onset of the 8th gen CPUs.

    If you would like to learn more about Intel’s 8th gen line-up, get in touch.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News

  • Crypto-mining

    4U Nano could open up a gold mine for crypto-mining

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Cryptocurrency is ruling the virtual roost right now. It is today an exceedingly popular method of making online, anonymous transactions, and the interest in it is only growing.

    What is it?

    Cryptocurrency is essentially digital money, like Bitcoin, that can be ‘mined’ for over the Internet. Whenever a transaction is made between two digital wallets, it is the job of miners to verify these transactions and add them to a public ledger, but in order to do this, they must solve a mathematical puzzle or algorithm that increases in difficulty. Opportunities to mine from these transactions is completely open, so solving the equation happens on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once the miner has completed the puzzle, they are rewarded with a fee and any new ‘coins’ that are created as a result of the transaction.

    Becoming a crypto-miner takes an enormous investment in equipment and time, as the puzzles they are presented with are extraordinarily complex, however, the return can be phenomenal.

    We may have the solution

    The most successful way of generating enough compute power to tackle the mining process is through the use of high-end graphics cards. We’re currently in the process of developing a brand new rackmount PC, the 4U Nano, which we believe will be the perfect companion for crypto-miners. Purpose-built for high-end graphics, it’s the only one of our product line-up able to accommodate multiple graphics cards, with room for up to four dual width cards such as the NVIDIA GTX 1080Ti or M6000. To ensure non-stop performance, we’ve also included the option for a 680W redundant power supply on top of standard support for up to 1500W ATX supply. We think this flexible, small form factor machine could be the answer to gaining the huge horsepower necessary for mining, but with lots of options to achieve a viable rig at a competitive price.

    The supply challenge

    The difficulty is that due to the surge in popularity for crypto-mining, graphics cards, particularly the likes of AMD and NVIDIA GPUs, are selling like hotcakes. It is becoming increasingly challenging to get hold of them at all, let alone at a reasonable cost. AMD’s RX Vega GPU was only released last month and its first wave sold out in minutes. However, as a leading UK PC manufacturer we’re used to experiencing constricted supply, so scour the globe for alternative supply routes for these very situations.  The 4U Nano is just around the corner and we’re confident that by the time we release it in the coming weeks, we will have overcome the supply issues currently being seen in the market.

    For more information on our 4U Nano for crypto-mining, or the NVIDIA graphics cards we use in our products, please get in touch.

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