why it matters: While they certainly don’t get all the attention PCs get, workstations play an incredibly important role in the world of enterprise computing. And the truth is, people using these high-powered devices often get to do many of the coolest computing-based tasks you can imagine. For example, bringing animated films to life right outside Hollywood, or designing sports cars in a small village in the West Midlands region of the UK.
Lenovo was clearly thinking along those lines when they decided, along with their client and design partner Aston Martin, to unveil their latest desktop workstation this week at DreamWorks Animation Studios. The timing was especially fortuitous as DreamWorks is currently up for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.
At the event, Lenovo emphasized their multi-year connection with DreamWorks, starting with the ThinkSystem servers the studio now uses to run its entire operation, from creating animations to running business processes.
It turns out DreamWorks was drawn to the company’s Neptune hot water-cooling technology — now in its fifth iteration — which Lenovo uses to cool both CPUs, storage and now GPUs in its servers. . This proved particularly attractive to DreamWorks because of the ever-increasing demands for performance (and the resulting increase in power draw) as well as their limited data center space.
Neptune-equipped Lenovo servers allowed DreamWorks to offer more performance in less space and reduce their power consumption at the same time – a compelling combination.
The server relationship then allowed the company to start the buzz around workstations, and DreamWorks decided to replace its previous machines with Lenovo’s ThinkStation P920, P720, and P520. Future purchases, however, will come from the real star of the event, Lenovo’s new desktop workstation line, which includes the PX, P7, and P5.
These new models include the latest workstation-focused CPUs and graphics cards, including Intel’s 4th-gen Xeon Scalable, the all-new 4th-gen Xeon W and 13th-gen Core CPUs, and Nvidia’s ADA generation RTX 6000 graphics cards.
However, what was particularly distinctive about this launch was the fact that it was the first major desktop workstation case redesign for the company in nearly a decade. Notably, this was done in conjunction with British sports car company Aston Martin, who also happen to be users of Lenovo’s workstations.
Thinkstation PX, P7 and P5 Workstations
While this may initially sound like an odd combination, it turns out that it actually works on several different levels. As an Aston Martin representative summarized, “Both companies love making things that look cool and go fast, but still need to be cool for optimal performance.”
Visually, the effect of the partnership is immediately apparent. The new Thinkstation P line features a 3D hexagonal design-based front grille that is very reminiscent of Aston Martin’s DBS Superleggera front grille. However, more than just an attractive add-on, the new grille design actually increases the air intake into the machine, allowing it to cool its hot, power-hungry core components even more efficiently. To help with that process, the PX also includes a new manifold-like element that directs incoming air to the right parts of the machine.
The increased airflow is especially important on the top-of-the-line PX model, which is among the first mainstream workstations to support up to 4 full-length, full-power Nvidia RTX 6000 ADA graphics cards as well as two CPU sockets. There is one. Supports Intel’s latest 60-core 4th-gen Xeon Scalable (a part usually associated with servers).
Together, these six components as well as the rest of the system require so much power that they can only be connected to outlets that are powered by 20-amp circuits. Lenovo powers the system with two independent power supplies that work in tandem. On systems that do not offer this complete configuration (and therefore do not require as much power), the two power supplies are hot-swappable for easier maintenance and longer runtime. For organizations that want or need that level of performance, however, the PX can be turned on its side and operated as a 5U rack-mounted workstation.
In addition to the PX, Lenovo also unveiled the smaller Thinkstation P7 and P5, both of which support Intel 4th-gen Xeon W, including 56-core Xeon W9-3495X and 13th-gen Core CPUs and Nvidia’s RTX 6000 GPU . The P7 can house a Xeon W-3400 CPU and up to three RTX 6000 cards, while the P5 supports a Xeon W-2400 CPU and two RTX 6000 cards.
In addition to the attractive new grille design, the three machines offer subtle Aston Martin design elements such as red details that highlight where the machine can be opened, accessed or carried. As part of the tool-less design, the panel to get to the workstation is inspired by Aston-Martin’s flush car door handles. At their best, they are design components that manage to be both functional and attractive at the same time.
From a technical perspective, all three machines include PCIe gen 5 slots, support for up to 9 drives, and up to 2 TB of DDR5 memory. Most importantly for the workstation market, all of these systems are ISV certified, ensuring that critical applications will run on them.
Like premium sports cars, workstations are never going to be a mainstream option. But for organizations or users seeking the best possible performance for their applications, there’s nothing else like it. With the latest Aston Martin design inspired by the Thinkstation, it’s clear that Lenovo is not only eager to compete in the race, but has its eye on the checkered flag.
Bob O’Donnell is the founder and principal analyst at Techanalysis Research, LLC, a technology consulting firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and the professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech,
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