With their fast CPUs and sporting the latest graphics cards, workstations are the workhorses of the production industry and are built not only to deliver high performance, but for heavy duty usage. They might run 24/7 in a busy animation studio, or get bounced around on a DT cart on a feature film shoot.
Lenovo is a name usually associated more with business laptops and office desktops not workstations. However, the company is making moves, and recently announced some very compelling new additions to the high-end workstation scene.
Last week at Siggraph, Lenovo announced the launch of the ThinkStation P Series, an advanced line of workstations that will give production and post professionals — you know, video editors, 3D animators, colorists, and visual effects artists — the power that they crave. Lenovo has the presence to make this work; in 2013 the company rose to become the world’s largest personal computer vendor by unit sales for the first time,
New from the ground up, Lenovo’s P-series workstation line now includes the ThinkStation P900, P700 and P500 workstations. An entry-level offering, the ThinkStation P300, was announced in May.
Lenovo bills their machines as the most powerful professional grade desktop workstations available. Naturally, I’m looking forward to test them out on this. Stay tuned for my in-depth review.
So What are the Key Features?
Let’s talk specifics about some of the things that make the ThinkStations attractive to those working in motion picture production and post.
The new Lenovo ThinkStation P Series design is clean and modular. Special care was taken in the basic design to make it easier to access components. Upgrades to any feature are simple and uncomplicated, with intuitive red touch points to guide your hands to the right place. Tool-less maintenance like this makes the workstations easy to upgrade or fix anywhere you are, whether you’re installing hard drives, memory or other components. The ThinkStation design also integrates secure handles, which make lifting, carrying or even rack mounting easier than ever.
Of course you get the latest in hardware. The top-of-the-line model ThinkStation P900 features dual Haswell-E based Intel Xeon processing, speedy DDR4 memory, and holds up to three Nvidia Quadro K6000 graphics cards. A remarkable feature on the P900 is its new FlexBay design which allows it to pack in up to 14 storage devices in several RAID variations.
The power supply is also removed without tools or worrying about cables, though this isn’t available in the P900.
One modern idea: if you want to know more about one of your system’s components, simply scan its QR code. You’ll be directed to the Lenovo website with the component’s tech specs and what it does in the system architecture.
In addition, you can plug in an Android-based tablet or smartphone into the USB port for system analysis using the ThinkStation app. That’s pretty cool. You can also transfer diagnostic information to a dedicated ThinkStation diagnostics web page.
According to Lenovo, their new design for the ThinkStations run very cool, which becomes a concern when packing in more and more cards and drives. The system’s cool running innards come courtesy of a patented “tri-channel architecture”, which results in superior cooling since, as you might guess, air gets routed through the system via three separate streams.
Cool doesn’t stop there: a fan-less, multi-channel air baffle directs cool air to system components, while shunting warm air out of the back before it gets the chance to touch other components along the way.
Innovations in the P Series include the FLEX Bay, the FLEX Tray and the FLEX Connector. The Flex Bay design is the basic internal architecture, allowing you to hold whatever you want as a mix of storage, optical drives, media card readers. Storage space is improved further with FLEX Trays, each of which holds two drives. While drives need no cable, slotting into a backplane, you also have plenty of connector support for SATA/SAS/PCIe storage and advanced RAID solutions.
Lenovo acquired IBM’s personal computer business in 2005. They’ve become well regarded for not dropping the ball by continuing to turn out a solid laptop beloved in the business world: the ThinkPad line. The new P Series workstations, however, are a move into the specialized workstation market, long dominated by HP and Dell. Strong support after purchase has been a hallmark of those two companies; let’s hope Lenovo continues that tradition.
The new Lenovo ThinkStation P-Series workstations will be available starting in late September. More information about the P Series can be found at www.thinkworkstations.com.