This month Lenovo unveiled its first ThinkStation line of workstations. The company partnered with long term customer, the AT&T Williams Formula One team, for the launch event. John Marchant reports.
On November 6, 2007, Lenovo launched their new ThinkStation line of workstation PCs in conjunction with the AT&T Williams Formula One team at the RBS Williams F1 Conference Centre. This is the first time in ten years that a major PC vendor has entered a market that the likes of Dell, HP and Sun have largely had to themselves.
Although the workstation market is small compared with the laptop and business desktop market, growth in Europe is around 10% pa compared with 6% or so for servers. Lenovo is setting its sights on winning a substantial share of the sector and is already collaborating with 26 leading independent software vendors to certify seamless hardware and software interaction. Alex Burns, chief operating officer, Williams F1 is already impressed, ýThe new workstations will help change the way our engineers work with faster interaction and design simulation and we are evaluating them for integration into our operations.¯
Latest Intel technology
Targeted at professionals in the computer-aided design/engineering, digital content creation, oil and gas exploration and electronic design automation segments, the Lenovo ThinkStation S10 and D10 workstations are built on the very latest technology, the first Intel processors based on 45 nanometer technology, nearly doubling the density of transistors on the chips compared with previous Intel processors. The dual processor ThinkStation D10 workstations use the fastest Quad Core Intel Xeon processor 5400 series, while the single processor ThinkStation S10 workstations use the latest Intel Core 2 processors including the Intel Core 2 Extreme processor QX9650. The new workstations can take two of the latest high-end GPUs from Nvidia and come equipped with dual Gigabit Ethernet and multiple slots, bays and USB ports.
Lenovo has designed the workstations to comply with the Environmental Protection AgencyÝs Energy Star 4.0 requirements for energy usage with 80% efficient power supplies. Additionally, they contain more than 50% recycled plastics content.
The workstations also incorporate a removable top handle for moving the workstation as well as a side cover latch for easy access to the system. The workstations are claimed to have the same acoustic noise levels as the standard Lenovo desktop PC.
The workstations also come equipped with a range of ThinkVantage technologies including Rescue and Recovery, Client Security System and Image Ultra Builder and Lenovo will offer a variety of storage, graphics adapters, memory and rail kits for the workstations.
ThinkStation workstations should be available starting in January through Lenovo business partners and www.lenovo.com. Pricing for the ThinkStation S10 workstation will start at around ú600 and the ThinkStation D10 workstation will start at around ú900.
Williams F1 and Lenovo
For those of you who have been on a desert island for the last 29 years, AT&T Williams is one of the worldÝs leading Formula One teams, with 16 FIA Formula One World Championship titles and 113 Grand Prix victories to its credit. Williams F1 is based at a 40 hectare technology campus in the heart of the UKÝs motorsport valley in rural Oxfordshire. Williams F1, which was formed in 1978 and is privately owned by Sir Frank Williams and his long-term business partner, Patrick Head, designs, manufactures and races Formula One cars and employs some 520 people, 80 percent of whom are involved in design, manufacturing and race operations. Also, for those who donÝt know already, Lenovo, formed by Lenovo GroupÝs acquisition of the former IBM Personal Computing Division, develops, manufactures and markets technology products and services worldwide with major research centers in Yamato, Japan; Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, China; and Raleigh, North Carolina.
Brand awareness and technology partnership
At the beginning of the 2007 race season, Lenovo announced its support as an Official Partner of AT&T Williams. F1 is a computing-intensive endeavour and is highly dependent on information technology, with the team using Lenovo PC technology in every facet of its business. The company uses around 400 Lenovo PCs – approximately 130 notebook PCs and 270 desktop PCs. Although LenovoÝs sponsorship of the team is about brand awareness, it is also about sending the Lenovo message directly to its customers. Williams, though sees it as more of a technology partnership, with workstation technology regarded by both Lenovo and Williams as similar to Formula One in the way it pushes the boundaries of technology with an eventual trickle-down into general use.
Looking for improvement
According to Chris Taylor, IT Manager at Williams F1, ýIn Formula One, the car changes completely every year. In fact, we design some components specifically for use for only one race at one circuit and workstation performance can be a limiting factor for us when we are redesigning parts to such tight deadlines. When we moved to dual core workstations, we got a real improvement in productivity, allowing us to run certain CAD and CAE applications at the same time, really compressing our design times. We are looking to the new ThinkStations to provide a further significant improvement.¯
Supercomputing power for aerodynamic simulation
Lenovo and Williams have also been working together on the development of a supercomputer to run CFD simulations of airflow around a virtual model of a three-dimensional racing car to help predict how changes in component shape and placement will affect drag and downforce, with resulting impacts on speed and handling. ýAerodynamics plays a critical role in determining how competitive we are for each of the race circuits we visit,¯ according to Alex Burns. The team uses the supercomputer to examine numerous aerodynamic variables, such as surface geometry, wheel turbulence and track surface. With a peak performance of eight teraflops, the supercomputer, based on a cluster of 166 Lenovo R520 SuperServers, is four times more powerful than the teamÝs previous solution. This enables the team to run aerodynamic simulations approximately 75 percent faster than before.