The no-compromise space saving workstation

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With an innovative space-saving design, the new Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra brings new possibilities to the workspaces of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) professionals.

For years desktop workstations were bulky towers that took up lots of space. The inevitable drive towards miniaturisation saw machines shrink down, but there was always a trade-off in performance, particularly when it came to graphics-intensive workflows like real-time visualisation, virtual reality (VR) and GPU rendering.

This all changes with the Lenovo ThinkStation P360 Ultra, a compact sub-4-litre workstation with a mighty CPU, a choice of powerful pro GPUs, including the NVIDIA RTX™ A5000 Laptop GPU, lots of memory, and levels of performance you’d expect from a full-sized tower. It means architects, engineers and construction professionals can benefit from the space saving design, without having to limit their workflows.

The ThinkStation P360 Ultra can be used throughout the design to construction process, from reality capture and Building Information Modelling (BIM) all the way through to engineering simulation, ray trace rendering, visualisation and beyond. This is explored in more detail in this supporting article.

But why is this compact workstation so desirable to architects, engineers and construction professionals, and why is it particularly relevant today?

The hybrid workplace

Over the last couple of years, Covid has led to a huge shift in working patterns. More people than ever are working from home. For many, Tuesday to Thursday is the new office working week.

But architects, engineers and construction professionals don’t want to make compromises when it comes to performance. They demand the exact same experience from their workstation at home as they have in the office.

Moving a bulky tower between locations is not practical. But it’s eminently possible with the ThinkStation P360 Ultra, which starts at 1.8 kg and fits comfortably in a small bag, measuring a mere 87 x 223 x 202mm.

Small desk, less clutter

One of the biggest benefits of the ThinkStation P360 Ultra’s compact design is that it saves significant desk space compared to a traditional desktop workstation. This is not only important at home, in space-constrained home office environments, but it helps keep design and engineering offices clutter free, making space for other tools used in AEC, such as Wacom tablets, 3D printers, reality capture devices, or even the humble sketch pad.

The ThinkStation P360 Ultra can be placed directly on a desk, vertically or horizontally. With a sleek, aesthetically pleasing design, it can enhance any design studio or home office. For a true clutter free desktop environment, it can be paired with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Or, for precise control over your 3D models, even a 3D mouse, such as the 3D Connexion SpaceMouse Pro Wireless. WiFi is built-in so there’s no need for an Ethernet cable.

Of course, some peripherals still need to be wired in. With (5) USB Type-A ports (1 front, 4 rear) and two Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C (front), the ThinkStation P360 Ultra has plenty of options. Compared to a desktop tower hidden under a desk, access to ports is incredibly easy.

For the ultimate clutter free working environment, the ThinkStation P360 Ultra can be VESA mounted, hung on a wall, under a desk or behind a monitor.

Power on the construction site

AEC workflows are changing, and the reality on site is now being captured with greater precision and with greater frequency than ever before. Data can be acquired from many different sources. The process can even be automated using drones or quadruped robots.

More data means more processing is required to register point clouds or generate reality meshes. There are huge benefits to doing this on site, instead of having to return to the office or wait for huge files to sync to the cloud over a slow connection. The ThinkStation P360 Ultra’s compact footprint makes it ideal for use in construction site offices. It can handle all types of reality modelling workflows from CPU-centric point cloud processing to GPU-centric photogrammetry.

If construction teams can process this data while still on site, they can ensure nothing has been missed and get actionable insights much earlier on. Construction verification, for example, can help ensure the quality of construction matches the design and planning requirements and any mistakes corrected quickly, before they become costly errors later on.

Easy serviceability

Some compact workstations, by the very nature of cramming powerful components into a small chassis, can be hard to upgrade or repair, but the ThinkStation P360 Ultra has been designed with serviceability in mind.

This could prove particularly important when working from home, as IT support staff are not on site. The workstation’s cover slides off at the push of a button, giving easy access to dual M.2 slots for SSDs and four DIMM slots for DDR5 memory. No tools are required.

The ThinkStation P360 Ultra also includes a user-serviceable dust filter to help maximise airflow and cooling and hence maintain its high-performance levels.

Keeping a workstation on a desk, rather than underneath it, can also minimise the accumulation of dust in the first place. This can be particularly important in construction site environments, especially retrofit projects.

Remote work

As well as being extremely portable and easy to move between locations, the ThinkStation P360 Ultra can also support distributed workers remotely. Multiple workstations can be rack mounted and users can then remote in from anywhere using a low-powered laptop or desktop PC. With remote graphics protocols, and a high-bandwidth, low-latency Internet connection, users can get the same workstation experience they would expect to get in the design office.

Because the ThinkStation P360 Ultra is primarily a desktop workstation and is designed to run quietly, racked machines can be kept in the office. They do not need to be in an air-conditioned server room or datacentre.

The ThinkStation P360 Ultra stands out from other sub-4-litre workstations because it can house two NVIDIA® T1000 GPUs and therefore support two users per machine to increase user density. Using virtualisation and GPU passthrough, each user gets access to a dedicated GPU for great performance in CAD and BIM-centric workflows.

Clear thinking

The ThinkStation P360 Ultra is a great choice for demanding architecture, engineering and construction professionals that want to declutter their workspace without sacrificing performance. The stylish design makes it suited to any setting, while providing more space for other tools used in AEC, such as peripherals.

Furthermore, the workstation can easily be transported between places of work, the construction site, or client offices for presentations.

But the ThinkStation P360 Ultra is also incredibly flexible, offering remote access to more than one user through its dual GPU capability.

Whether you’re looking for a compact, but powerful desktop workstation for the office, home or site, the ThinkStation P360 Ultra is the perfect way to go.

Lenovo ThinkStation P-Series workstations

Lenovo ThinkStation P-Series workstations come in a wide range of form factors from minute desktops to fully expandable powerhouses. All workstations can be configured for a range of different workflows and budgets

Find this article plus many more in the March / April 2023 Edition of AEC Magazine
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