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Advancements in Hardware to Make your Investment Go Further
To some extent, being a CAD or architecture professional, you can only be as efficient as your hardware will allow you to be. From workstations to processors, and all of the graphics cards in between, the major players in the hardware industry are innovating to make hardware more powerful, and are bringing more value to the table for customers. They have had some impressive new developments in the past year, including the following recent announcements:


BOXX has been busy in the workstation market, especially with their announcement in early March of their 3DBOXX 8920 workstation, which BOXX touts delivers 80 percent more application performance over its predecessor, the 3DBOXX 8520. According to BOXX, 8920 features dual, eight-core Intel Xeon E5-2600 series processors, 16 cores ideal for intense animation and rendering, additional memory, and the ability to include up to three NVIDIA GPUs.

Meanwhile Lenovo released the ThinkStation E30 workstation in late March, which builds on its predecessor, the E20 workstation. Ideal for those looking for an entry point into the workstation market, the E30 features second generation Intel Core processors, up to four cores, 16 GB of 1333 mHz of memory, and Intel Turbo Boost technology for performance-intensive tasks. Users also have the choice of 80 or 160 GB SSD, and the NVIDIA Quadro or NVS graphics.

Just in the beginning of March, HP announced updates and increased expandability in their popular line of HP Z Workstations. Good for those in both the CAD and architecture spaces, the HP Z820, HP Z620 and HP Z420 now all feature the latest eight-core Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family and up to 512 gigabytes of DDR3 memory. They also unveiled their all-in-one towerless workstation, the HP Z1 in February.

Dell announced in 2011 what they call the world’s most powerful 15.6” and 17.3” mobile workstations, the M4600 and M6600 respectively. They feature second generation Intel Core i7 processor Extreme edition and 1600 MHz system memory options. The M4600 has 32 GB of memory, and up to 750 GB of hard disk drive, while the M6600 features an optional second hard disk drive, a 128 GB solid state drive, a NVIDIA Quadro 5010M graphics card, and 4 GB of GFX memory. Dell also released their newest version of the Precision R5500 rack workstation, a workstation located in a secure data center or other central location. It features Xeon processors, memory of up to 192 GB, and dual-wide GPU slots that scale up to 450 watts. It also offers PCIe x16 slots including support for a full range of dual high-end graphics.


Among many processor-advancements, something noteworthy is the attention on data centers and cloud computing. Data centers are rising in popularity, thanks to the uptake in cloud computing. Just in Phoenix alone, according to a recent study by Microsoft, it is predicted there will be 14,000 Phoenix-based jobs created by 2015 because of the increased use of cloud-based services.

Also announced in early March, the Intel processor E5-2600, a product family of processors found in servers and workstations, is now prepared for the massive increase of cloud computing over the next five years because of updates. Updates to the E5-2600 include up to 80 percent better performance compared to the previous generation, the best data center performance per watt with over a 50 percent gain, and the ability to move data into and out of the processor up to three times faster.

Graphics cards

AMD and NVIDIA have both invested in expanding the possibilities of visualization by creating active-shutter 3D systems and graphics cards that are capable of outputting to multiple monitors. NVIDIA’s recently released Quadro 400 graphics processing unit and graphics card, a computing tool that the company is marketing directly for users working in the engineering arena, gives users of PTC and Autodesk products between five and ten times faster performance compared to competing graphics cards based on a SPEC Viewperf 11 benchmark test.

In the last year, AMD has released a range of graphics processing devices including the FirePro V3900, AMD Radeon HD 6990M, FirePro V4900, and the AMD Radeon HD 7970. All four are intended for professional graphics card users, with the FirePro V3900 and FirePro V4900 particularly good for linking multiple monitors together in the desktop workstation market, the HD 6990M ideal for mobile computing platforms, and the Radeon HD 7970 as AMD’s fastest GPU-graphics card.

Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are perhaps the most exciting of the hardware advancements just because the market for them is growing so quickly as more see the value of being able to use their mobile device in the field. While there are many devices popping up, Lenovo’s K1 IdeaPad and Apple’s iPad have garnered a lot of attention. Impressively, Lenovo’s IdeaPad comes with over 30 preloaded apps, has 1 GB of memory, up to a 64 GB hard drive, and most importantly for this industry, 2 GB of free cloud storage.

Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) like Autodesk are hitting this mobile design market hard with developments like the AutoCAD WS app that allows you to view, edit and share DWG files on your smartphone or tablet.

Enjoy the following hand-picked selection of articles and news releases that highlight the advances in hardware in the last 12 months and learn where it would be best to make your hardware investment.

March/April 2012
Advancements in Hardware to Make your Investment Go Further
Graphics Card Vendors Push Multiple Monitor-use and Stereoscopic Technology
By John Myers, ConnectPress Editor
Active shutter 3D, multiple monitor outputs and faster processing speeds dominate graphics card trends in 2012.

Technical Desktops and Workstations with Intel’s “Uncore” Technology Deliver the Performance you Need to Innovate Faster
By Wes Shimanek and David M Kennedy, Intel Corporation
The uncore technologies found in the new Intel Xeon processor families help you move data through the processors faster than ever before.

Workstation Productivity with Lenovo ThinkStations Using CATIA V6
By Lenovo
Principled Technologies tested the performance of Lenovo workstations running CATIA V6 renders.

A Workstation Quick Buyers Guide
By Wes Shimanek, Workstation Product Manager, Intel Corporation
How to choose the processor, memory, graphics, and storage technologies that can best benefit your workflows.

The Best 3D Mouse Yet
By Rick Holets
Applications Engineer Rick Holets tests out the new 3Dconnexion, SpaceMouse Pro, gives thumbs up.

Dassault Systèmes Leaps into the Cloud with New Version 6 Offerings
By John Myers, ConnectPress Editor
Dassault Systèmes has announced that the Version 6 platform is now accessible on the Amazon Web Services’ cloud.

NVIDIA Quadro Case Study: The Future is Now with NVIDIA Quadro
NVIDIA technology is making a simulation of a manned flight to Mars possible for the Institute of the Medical and Biological Problems of RAS.

New Workstations Focus on Affordability and Portability
By John Myers, ConnectPress Editor
A look at some of the upcoming workstations that MCAD and AEC users can look forward to.

HP Attempts Comeback with HP Z1
By Kathleen Maher, Jon Peddie Research
Is the HP Z1 powerful, scalable, secure, accurate, serviceable, and ISV certified? Find out what Jon Peddie Research thinks.

Stereoscopic 3D is Changing the Way Designers Look at CAD-Literally
By John Myers, ConnectPress Editor
NVIDIA’s 3D Vision stereoscopic 3D technology offers CAD professionals a way to visualize their designs in depth, offering greater context.

Parallels Workstation 6 Extreme Makes the Consolidated Professional Graphics Workstation a Reality Through Unmatched Performance of Direct Assignment Technology
Press Release Issued by Parallels
Parallels have announced the release of their new Parallels Workstation 6 Extreme.

Khronos Enriches Cross-Platform 3D Graphics with Release of OpenGL 4.2 Specification
Press Release Issued by Khronos
The Khronos Group has announced OpenGL 4.2, which will feature capturing of GPU-tessellated geometry and drawing multiple instances.

Curtiss-Wright Controls Introduces Industry's First NVIDIA GPGPU OpenVPXTM Engine Based on NVIDIA Fermi Architecture
Press Release Issued by Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing
The VPX6-490 features dual NVIDIA GPUs based on the NVIDIA Fermi architecture, each with 240 CUDA cores.

Free Epson iPrint App Outperforms Competition with Latest Upgrades
Press Release Issued by Epson
The mobile printing app is optimized to print web pages and documents from an Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch to any wireless Epson all-in-one.

Combine Multiple Matrox Extio F2208, F2408 and F2408E Expander Units to Drive Up to 16 Remote Displays from a Single PC
Press Release Issued by Matrox
Matrox has announced the release of the Matrox Extio F2208 dual-monitor and Matrox Extio F2408 quad-monitor KVM extenders.

3DBOXX 3970 XTREME Workstation is Worth the Extra Cost
In a recent review the 3DBOXX 3970 XTREME was described as worth the price increase for engineering companies who need a little extra power.

New Intel Server Technology: Powering the Cloud to Handle 15 Billion Connected Devices
Press Release Issued by Intel
The Xeon processor E5-2600 product family is built to meet the demands of an increasingly connected world.

HP Unveils Powerful New Line of Workstations
Press Release Issued by HP
The new Z Workstations feature the latest eight-core Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family.

NVIDIA Joins Forces with HP to Free the Workstation from its Tower
Press Release Issued by NVIDIA
Developed through a multi-year collaboration between HP and NVIDIA, the GPUs utilize less power, generate less heat and require less cooling.

HP Introduces World’s First 27-inch All-in-One Workstation
Press Release Issued by HP
Built for computer-aided design, digital media and entertainment professionals, the HP Z1 provides blazingly fast rendering and performance.

BOXX Workstations Earn Certification and Raves Prior to SolidWorks World 2012
Press Release Issued by BOXX Workstations
Did you know that the 3DBOXX 3960 XTREME has earned CATIA certification? Read on for a chance to win one!

Altair Launches New Applications to Run, Monitor and Manage Workloads and Results Efficiently
Press Release Issued by Altair
Altair has announced two new applications Compute Manager and PBS Desktop to help users manage their high-performance computing solutions.

Highlights from NVIDIA at CES 2012
Here's a look at the technology NVIDIA previewed at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

BOXX Debuts 2nd Generation Intel Core i7 Workstation at AU Vegas 2011
Press Release Issued by BOXX Technologies
The new 3DBOXX 4920 XTREME workstation features a second generation, six core, 12-thread Intel® Core™ i7 processor.

NVIDIA Maximus Revolutionizes the Workstation
Press Release Issued by NVIDIA
The Maximus Technology is optimized for graphics and analysis design work.

Matrox Extends Extio Series Support to New Linux Distributions
Press Release Issued by Matrox Graphics
Matrox Graphics Extio F2208 and Extio F2408 KVM extenders and Extio F2408E Expander units now support a broader range of Linux operating systems.

VMware and NVIDIA to Deliver True, Virtual Workstation Experience
Press Release Issued by NVIDA
The companies hope to advance virtual 3D graphics technology and enable remote delivery of high-end, workstation-class virtual desktops.

Workstation Market Behaving as Expected in the Second Quarter of 2011
Press Release Issued by Jon Peddie Research
Jon Peddie Research issued a statement saying the second quarter 2011 workstation market is neither very good or very bad.

U.S. Air Force Chooses HP as Key Technology Provider
Press Release Issued by HP
The United States Air Force has chosen HP as their source for their next generation of workstations and desktop PCs.

New Review Classifies Xi MTower PCIe Workstation as High Power, Low Cost Workstation
David Cohn of Cohn Consulting commends the Xithe Xi MTower PCIe Workstation for its ability to pack in a lot of processing power into a lower-cost system.

PNY Launches GeForce Liquid Cooled Graphics Cards
Press Release Issued by PNY
PNY has launced its new XLR8 Liquid Cooled GeForce GTX 580 and XLR8 Liquid Cooled GeForce GTX 580 with CPU Cooling graphics cards.

AMD Paves the Way for the Next Generation of Supercharged Desktop PCs with 9-series Chipsets
Press Release Issued by AMD
AMD has announced that its Scorpius platform will take advantage of its new 9-series chipset technology.

New Dell Precision Workstations Support Flexible Work Environments with Uncompromised Performance
Press Release Issued by Dell
Dell has announced a new lineup of workstations including the mobile M4600, M660 and the R5500 rack workstation.

HP Unveils Affordable and Compact Workstations for Professionals
Press Release Issued by HP
New HP Z210 Workstations offer performance and reliability in mini-tower or highly compact sizes.