• Bantam

    Our Bantam PC is here – and it’s a knockout!

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    We’re very excited to announce that our brand new Bantam PC is now available to order! The Bantam takes all of the best components of a Rack PC and packs it into a Mini PC case, meaning you get the best of both worlds.

    Round One

    This machine is fighting fit, promising exceptional performance and all-important flexibility. While its compact design means it’s perfect for your comms cabinet and can enable you to fit two units side-by-side in a 1U rackspace, it’s also the ideal solution for any high-demand applications thanks to its wide range of impressive processing options.

    Round Two

    Here’s a blow-by-blow breakdown of the Bantam’s exceptional features:

    • Processor options: fanless Celeron to i7
    • Dual Gigabit Ethernet Ports
    • 2 SSD 2.5” drive bays
    • Optional RS232 Port
    • Internal AC/DC 90W PSU

    We believe the Bantam’s internal AC/DC power supply unit (PSU) and variety of convenient mounting options make it the one to watch. Depending on your preferences, the Bantam can be mounted in a 1U rack, wall or VESA.

    Knockout!

    The Bantam PC is now officially available to order. If you would like to get your hands on this mighty machine, or else find out what this new PC means for the future of our product range, please speak to one of the team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: Products

  • grandMA light show

    Our 1U Plus and 2U Nano PCs are a grand choice for grandMA software

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Since releasing our article on the compatibility of our products with video production software from vMix, customers have been curious to know what other popular software our line-up of Rack and Mini PCs are used to host. With this in mind, we’ve decided to take a closer look at our product configurations for grandMA, which is specialist software for MA Lighting.

    MA Lighting’s award-winning family of grandMA/grandMA2 products are designed for the control and customisation of lighting displays for AV and digital media installations. There are three key pieces of software within their portfolio – grandMA2 onPC, MA 3D, and MA remote control. By implementing grandMA2 onPC into our units, we open up the potential for MA 3D and remote control to be easily integrated and used as needed by our customers. We have been commissioned to build all sorts of custom configurations of our 1U Plus and 2U Nano PC models to host grandMA, composed specifically to harness the full capabilities of the platform.

    What is the software used for?

    grandMA2 onPC’s highly flexible and intuitive interface allows users to easily pre-program and run complete lighting shows, while gaining the benefits of an agile layout for any show-situation. MA 3D, on the other hand, does exactly what it says on the box. It acts a visualiser and pre-programming tool for any three-dimensional stage layout designs, and also integrates directly with grandMA2 onPC for added functionality. Finally, MA remote control provides a convenient and user-friendly means of controlling your grandMA2 onPC software from a local web browser.

    What does grandMA need from a rack PC?

    Fundamentally, we’ve found that the important components that are needed to host grandMA on a rackmount PC are the following:

    • Dual-width high-performance NVIDIA GPU
    • 8GB RAM
    • Solid State Hard Drive

    The benefits of our PCs for grandMA

    Our ultra-slim 1U Plus is a great fit for hosting grandMA software, with options for range-topping CPUs such as Intel’s i7 6-core and Xeon 8-core processors, as well as two PCIe x16 expansion bays that can easily fit a dual-width graphics card such as an NVIDIA GeForce GPU for enhanced performance. This is a perfect unit for installations that are space-sensitive, small enough to comfortably fit into a hand-held flight case for ease of portability between shows.

    Likewise, our 2U Nano is one of our most widely used PCs for digital media, thanks to its ultra-low noise, near silent power supply and modest form factor. It’s also faster than many media servers on the market today, making it ideal for running complex and extensive lighting shows. By modifying our units, we are also able to add valuable features to these PCs, depending on the requirements of the application they are fulfilling, including options for Video Input cards and Wi-Fi functionality.

    We try to ensure that no matter the configuration, our customers are always given the best user experience possible and successfully achieve the audio-visual and digital outcomes they seek from any production software.

    If you would like to learn more about how grandMA can be integrated with our products, or are interested in the benefits of using grandMA software, get in touch with one of the team.

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

  • 7th gen NUCs

    Worth the wait! Intel’s 7th gen NUCs

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    Following the recent release of our new 4U Nano rackmount PC, we’ve got yet another surprise in store for you. We’re delighted to reveal that, as predicted, the 7th generation NUC case from Intel has arrived! NUC was a gamechanger in PC design and the 7th generation continues this heritage in innovation. Since receiving their preproduction samples of the Commercial line-up last year, we’ve been waiting patiently to get the Commercial 7th gen NUCs out to our customers and now we can’t wait any longer.

    This new generation of units is now officially available to order, and comes with some truly impressive features:

    • Core i3 and i5 vPro processors
    • Two HDMI 2.0 Outputs for full 4K support
    • Support for Additional NIC Ports – using our M.2 NIC Expansion Card
    • Intel Optane Memory ready
    • Support for Windows 10
    • Four USB 3.0 ports
    • 3 year product lifecycle

    One such part of Intel’s 7th generation Kaby Lake architecture is the NUC7i5DNBE NUC, which comes as a board-only configuration with a vPro variant designed for Enterprise deployments. Being board-only means you get the flexibility of choosing or designing your own chassis (which we’ve done with our own), or else building the board into compatible devices, whether that’s for 4K digital signage, kiosks, or whichever business applications you need them to meet.

    Housing a choice of Intel’s 7th generation Core i3 and i5 vPro range of processors, the new NUC family promises high-performance and accelerated workflow, thanks also to its compatibility with Intel’s new Optane memory architecture. The units are purpose-built with protection and connectivity in mind for a secure and truly integrated experience, including support for Thunderbolt 3 and new data encryption features, making them ideally suited to all sorts of emerging applications.

    If you would like to find out more about Intel’s 7th gen NUCs and their board-only variants, please get in touch with us today to discuss the options available to you.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • 2U Nano Flight Case

    2U Nano on tour: life in a flight case

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    More and more frequently, we are seeing an increasing need for rackmount PCs that are flight case-portable, particularly from our AV and digital media customers. Most media servers on the market today are too large and impractical to travel comfortably between different events, making transportation of the necessary kit awkward and time-consuming. We recently interviewed Lewis Kyle White (LKW) of Pixels & Noise, a well-regarded content and visual design company and G2 customer, to discover why portability is such an important aspect of their product selection and why our 2U Nano rackmount PC in particular turned out to be the “perfect solution” to their problem.

    The 2U Nano in flight

    2U Nano on TourLKW’s 2U Nano was custom-built to support real-time rendering software, Notch – an app that enables users to create interactive video content and is key to the services they deliver. The 2U Nano’s compact design and suitability for high-performance workloads was ideal for running Notch, and has now become LKW’s dedicated machine for this purpose, mainly used for show preproduction work. However, being such a flexible machine, it’s equally at home when used for both show rehearsals and live production, without having to hand the latter over to larger media servers.

    The Notch-specific 2U Nano is transported to various shows across the country in a flight case, being small enough to easily fit on planes and trains as needed. Its 370mm ultra-short-depth chassis means that there is also plenty of room left within the case for any additional kit, or it could even conceivably be joined by a second 2U Nano within the same rack, as these are half the depth of standard media servers.

    The unit has visited the Barbican, The Fast and Furious Live arena show, and on its very first outing, MTV’s Europe Music Awards, where it was the primary box on-site for Notch work for The Killers, helping to create visuals from real-time 3D scans of the band. It has also recently made an appearance at the 2018 BAFTA Film Awards, and travelled to Amsterdam for this year’s Integrated Systems Europe!

    Why choose the 2U Nano?

    2U Nano Flight CaseAs the height of servers was such an issue, and an important factor for Lewis Kyle White, they had searched for a long time to discover a suitable chassis before coming across G2’s 2U Nano solution. The machine itself, with no moving parts to speak of, is extremely robust and durable, and when housed within its flight case becomes even more ruggedised and secure during transit. Its mounting options are incredibly versatile, in that it can be rackmounted from the front as well as the back of the unit, which is a rarity. What LKW also found surprising was how diverse and expandable such a small unit could be, providing multiple options to interchange graphics cards and other components to further boost its performance.

    With such a professional-looking, flexible machine in hand, LKW has already seen the business benefit, after only 6 months of use. They have had multiple enquires from potential customers following their purchase of the 2U Nano, if only due to its portability, which puts LKW heads and shoulders above other designers and operators using larger servers for their productions.

    The value of a G2 unit

    “G2 were very accommodating throughout the entire process, and went out of their way to help provide me with all of the components I needed from the 2U Nano. They considered seemingly minor elements that ended up adding real value to my experience; I was always confident that they truly knew their stuff and would be completely transparent with me.” – Lewis Kyle White, Director

    If you are in need of a portable, high-performing unit such as the 2U Nano for AV and digital media shows or installations, or would like to learn more about our line-up of rack-mountable PCs, please get in touch with the G2 team.

     

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

  • 4U Nano short depth Rack PC

    Our 4U Nano rackmount PC has arrived!

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    We are very pleased to announce that our 4U Nano rackmount PC is now in stock! Since posting about the unit’s development back in July, we’ve worked hard to get the finished article prepared for release, and are now really looking forward to seeing it in action.

    This marks the very first 4U machine to join our growing and varied product line-up, harnessing some powerful and instrumental features that bring a whole world of new opportunities to the G2 portfolio. The 4U Nano was designed specifically to support high-end graphics (GFX) cards, such as NVIDIA’s GTX 1080 Ti – a graphics processing unit (GPU) that has been gaining popularity across many of our products, making the machine an ideal fit for demanding audio-visual and digital media installations. It’s arrived at the right time, too, with NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1070 Ti new on the scene, being able to accommodate more dual-width GFX cards in a single unit than any of our other machines.

    Its graphics capability is also more than matched by superior reliability features – including support for up to 1500W ATX power supplies plus the option to add a 680W redundant power supply unit; so you’re covered in the event of a PSU failure. This winning combination means the 4U Nano is an attractive machine for crypto-miners, with enough compute power and configuration options to build a highly capable rig.

    The 4U Nano’s long list of exciting features extend to:

    • Up to 4x Dual-Width Graphics Cards or 8x full height and full length PCIe cards
    • Up to 4x 3.5” Hot Swappable Hard drives
    • Up to 8x 2.5” Hot Swappable SSDs/Hard drives
    • Optional Redundant 680W power supply unit
    • Support for 1500W ATX Power Supplies
    • DVD Drive Support

    Despite housing such high-performance componentry, the 4U Nano remains modest in size, its short-depth 370mm deep case design perfect for installations that are limited by space. It’s also rack-mountable, and therefore easy to affix, even in the most challenging of environments.

    If the 4U Nano rackmount PC is the unit you’ve been looking for, or else if you would like to discover more about its capabilities, please get in touch with our team.

    Posted by: Geoff Undrell
    Posted in: News, Products

  • Intel 8th gen

    The new generation: comparing Intel 8th gen with 7th gen

    Updated , by Geoff Undrell

    We’re pleased to say we now have the latest Intel 8th generation processors and motherboards in stock! Now we’ve got our hands on the new tech, we’ve decided to explore exactly how this new generation of Core CPUs compares with its predecessor, the 7th gen Kaby Lake line, and why 8th generation is a bigger and better alternative.

    What does the 8th generation consist of?

    Intel’s 8th generation of desktop and mobile CPUs was officially announced last August during 2017’s total solar eclipse. Rather than an entirely new architecture, this instead consists of three microarchitectures evolved from the 7th gen Kaby Lake – the refreshed 14nm+ Kaby Lake-R, the 14nm++ Coffee Lake, and the yet-to-emerge 10nm Cannon Lake.

    What’s the difference?

    There are several key differences between Intel 8th and 7th gen, the most notable of which is the promised 40% increase in performance. This claim states that 8th gen Intel Core i7 and i5 processors demonstrate up to a 40% improvement, even when multitasking. This huge boost is due in part to the fact that 8th gen chips are no longer dual, but instead quad-core, which has afforded a 25% performance rise alone. This combined with design and manufacturing changes has lifted the 8th gen Core CPUs to that impressive 40% mark.

    Another significant change is the core count in each CPU. As we’ve seen with Coffee Lake, the core count for i7 and i5 processors has gone from 4 to 6, with an accompanying jump in threads, too, meaning the newer generations are much faster. In fact, according to Laptop Mag, 4-cored Kaby Lake-R can be up to 91% quicker, depending on the task. What this has meant, though, is a lower base clock for Kaby Lake-R due to Intel’s efforts to keep to a 15W TDP, but this is barely apparent in performance, thanks to higher clock speeds at Turbo.

    Beyond the core and performance increase, however, not a great amount has changed; the 8th generation line-up isn’t wildly different. What is evident, though, is that the surge in performance is substantial enough to set the 8th generation CPUs into a league over and above 7th gen.

    Conclusion

    While there isn’t an overwhelming amount of difference between Intel 8th and 7th gen, the new generation certainly holds its own when it comes to speed, accuracy, and performance. We’re really excited about what has been revealed to us of Intel’s 8th generation so far, particularly the Coffee Lake i7-8700k CPU, and can’t wait to see what’s yet to come from it as we head further into 2018.

    If you’re interested in a Rack or Mini PC containing Intel’s 8th generation CPUs, or would like to learn more about what 8th gen has to offer, speak to one of the team.

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

  • 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