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Supermicro New Zealand Channel Newsletter
Performance Workstations for Designers
  30 April 2011

GPU computing is the use of modern graphics adapters to do general purpose scientific, engineering or design computing. Over the years the GPU (graphics processing unit) has evolved to have teraflops of floating point performance with its massively parallel architecture. Hundreds of processor cores in the GPU can operate together to compute through a data set in an application that has been optimised for parallelism or simultaneous and multiple-threads.

What this typically means is that the sequential part of an application will run on the CPU while the computationally-intensive part of the application can be accelerated by the GPU as long as the application has been optimised or re-programmed to do so. From the user's perspective, the applications typically run many times faster due to the GPU.

The Compucon team has been researching and developing a new platform with Engineers and Designers in mind. The Compucon DesignStation (http://www.compucon.co.nz/content/view/845/254/) is an optimised Sandy Bridge platform that takes advantage of the latest nVidia Fermi series Quadro cards by striking a fine balance between price and performance. Intel Sandy Bridge processors and nVidia Fermi cards are the latest from Intel and nVidia respectively, both of which raises the bar for the best price / performance ratio. Thorough benchmarking shows that the Compucon DesignStations offer similar performance in typical CAD workstation applications for approximately half the price. For further information please see the Compucon DesignStation Q2000 page at http://www.compucon.co.nz/content/view/1009/254/.

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More and more consumer oriented applications are becoming GPU aware or are being optimised to take advantage of today's GPUs. Examples include GPU-accelerated 3D CSS in web browsers, real-time editing performance and 13 times faster encoding performance in Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 (Premiere Pro, After Effects and Photoshop). These examples show that the power of the GPU is not limited to typical CAD workstation applications.

Supermicro has released nVidia Tesla based workstations and servers for a while.  We do not stock them in Auckland but will gladly attend to any enquiries. Feel free to contact the editor for further information as desired.

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