Issue: Volume: 33 Issue: 5 (May 2010)


HP Rolls Out New Offerings

At a recent launch event, HP introduced its latest offerings to journalists from around the world, including the addition of the six-core Intel Xeon 5600 (Westmere) processor in its modular Z line—the Z800, Z600, and Z400. The new processors can accommodate up to two Intel six-core processors with Hyper-Threading turned on, offering 24 threads of power to run at one time—all deskside.

The HP Z800 offers the latest Intel Xeon 5500 and 5600 series processors, providing up to 12 processing cores, 192gb of ECC memory, 10tb of high-speed storage, and dual Nvidia Quadro FX 5800 graphics cards.

The HP Z600 also offers Intel Xeon 5500 and 5600 series processors and as many as 12 processing cores. It additionally provides up to 48gb of ECC memory, 6tb of high-speed storage, and professional 2D and 3D graphics cards up to the Nvidia Quadro FX 4800 or dual Quadro FX 1800.

The HP Z400 offers as many as six processing cores using the latest Intel Xeon 3500 series processors, providing up to 24gb of ECC memory, 8tb of high-speed storage, and Nvidia Quadro FX 4800 or dual Quadro FX 1800 cards.

The HP Z400, Z600, and Z800 are available now. Pricing starts at $929 for the HP Z400 workstation, $1579 for the HP Z600 workstation, and $1799 for the HP Z800 workstation.

Adding to its Z workstation line, HP introduced the Z200 SFF ultra-compact tower, sporting a dual-core processor option based on the Intel Core i3 and i5, or a quad-core option based on the Xeon 3400 series. With a starting price rivaling those of traditional desktop computers ($739), the HP Z200 SFF breaks new ground with a space-saving design that is almost two-thirds smaller than the Z200 mini-tower workstation. Available now, the HP Z200 SFF supports up to 16gb of ECC memory and up to 2tb of high-speed storage. It also includes professional 2D and 3D graphics options.

On the mobile side, the company introduced its most powerful mobile workstation to date: the EliteBook 8740w, sporting an optional HP DreamColor display and featuring a 17-inch diagonal display, a range of Intel processors including Core i7 Extreme Edition, and support for up to 16gb of memory.

The 8740w offers a choice of the ATI FirePro M7820 with 1gb of GDDR5 video memory or the Nvidia Quadro FX 2800M or Quadro FX 3800M, both with 1gb GDDR3 video memory. Users selecting the ATI FirePro configuration benefit from Direct X 11 and multi-display support. The EliteBook 8740w is available now for $1999.

Product: Workstations

Safe Harbor Unleashes Tsunami
Safe Harbor Computers rolled out a new workstation solution engineered to take full advantage of the Adobe Mercury Playback Engine with PNY graphics and 64-bit processing.  Each system is custom-configured with memory, storage, capture card, PNY display card, and Adobe software.

The Mercury Playback Engine is Nvidia GPU-accelerated, 64-bit native, enabling users to work more fluidly on projects in SD, HD, 2k, 4k, and beyond; open complex projects faster; add effects; and work on multiple high-resolution layers in real time with no rendering.

Nvidia Quadro FX 3800, 4800, and 5800 graphics cards by PNY are the driving force of the Mercury Playback Engine, with GPU-accelerated effects taking the load off the system  processors to deliver a feature-rich editing experience.

Safe Harbor’s Ready-To-Edit Tsunami Workstations are available now; pricing varies according to configuration.

Product: Workstations

Nvidia Unveils Its Digital Video Pipeline

Nvidia took the wraps off its new Quadro Digital Video Pipeline, a turnkey system that simplifies and accelerates the production of live 3D broadcasts. The Quadro Digital Video Pipeline solves the complexity of acquiring, processing, and delivering both traditional and 3D content by leveraging Nvidia GPUs.

The pipeline fully enables 3D workflows by processing simultaneous right-eye and left-eye video streams in real time. By pairing this system with Nvidia 3D Vision active-shutter glasses, broadcast operators and directors can preview stereo 3D content at full resolution during production. During acquisition, the system ingests four HD-SDI feeds (or two stereoscopic 3D feeds) simultaneously, using the GPU to debayer raw camera data in real time, so directors see the highest quality, color-corrected images. At processing, it renders and composites real-time 3D graphics, virtual effects, and transitions. Then, it outputs the right- and left-eye HD-SDI streams with audio, for immediate previewing and broadcasting.

The next generation of the Nvidia Quadro Digital Video Pipeline is available now; pricing varies with configuration.

AMD Heats Up Market with the ATI FirePro V8800

AMD launched the first of a new family of ATI FirePro professional graphics solutions with ATI Eyefinity technology, starting with the ATI FirePro V8800, the only professional graphics solution supporting ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology and Microsoft DirectX 11 technology. With ATI Eyefinity technology, professionals can use up to twice the screen workspace with a single card. With one ATI FirePro V8800, users can drive up to four independent 30-inch displays, enabling 16.4 million pixels in vivid color detail. ATI Eyefinity technology works seamlessly with AMD’S ATI FirePro S400 Synchronization Module.

The ATI FirePro V8800, priced at $1499, delivers 2.6 teraflops of raw computing power with the highest memory bandwidth (147.2gb/sec) available in any single-card professional graphics solution (more than two times the compute power of the previous generation), enabling users to manipulate complex, photorealistic models in real time.

In the coming months, AMD plans to round out its next-gen ATI FirePro family, offering a number of solutions to meet the various 2D and 3D needs of professionals working in CAD, DCC, broadcast, medical imaging, and financial services.

Product: Graphics Card

Autodesk Announces 2011 Finishing Products

Autodesk rolled out the 2011 releases of its creative finishing products for visual effects, editorial finishing, and color grading—Flame, Flare, Flint, Smoke, and Lustre—which offer new creative tools and improved interoperability, and introduce an end-to-end stereoscopic 3D (S3D) finishing workflow for TV and film.

Smoke 2011 features new tools for editing, viewing, and compositing stereoscopic 3D content. It provides a drag-and-drop conform of AAF or XML files from Apple Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer, and has native in-application support for RED RAW media and H.264 QuickTime. Launched in December 2009, Smoke for Mac OS X is gaining ground in Mac-based creative workflows by offering, for the first time on that platform, an all-in-one editorial finishing solution. With integrated tools for editorial, conform, color correction, keying, tracking, painting, rotoscoping, compositing, and 3D visual effects, Smoke can reduce the need for editors to work with multiple applications to deliver higher-quality finished content. Smoke—priced at $14,995—is also available as a turnkey solution for the Linux operating system.

The 2011 releases of Flame and Flare, meanwhile, add new creative tools and help further integrate advanced 3D capabilities with a new GPU-based pixel-shader rendering pipeline that helps improve the quality of rendered results and enables support for new texture mapping and lighting effects. Included is a new Substance procedural texture library with at least 100 near-photorealistic textures that can be applied to 3D objects, 3D text, or surfaces; native in-application support for RED RAW media and H.264 QuickTime; and support for individual rendering layers when soft-importing OpenEXR media files. The versions also support a number of 3D compositing enhancements.

Lustre 2011 features S3D capabilities that enable advanced creative look development by helping to give colorists control over color and lighting effects in both stereoscopic and standard grading workflows, with new support for grading of OpenEXR media files, RED workflow enhancements, and open management of grading metadata.

The releases vary in price based on configuration.

Products: Postprocessing

JPR Survey: PC Gaming Hardware Directed at Enthusiasts

Jon Peddie Research (JPR) estimates that 46 percent of the dollars spent in 2009 on gaming-motivated PC hardware--at the top of the line, including boutique PCs, high-end processors and graphics cards, SSDs, specialized gaming mice, keyboards, speakers, monitors, and so forth--were directed toward what the firm calls the “Enthusiast” class.

Subsequently, JPR is forecasting a shift in product mix demand as the worldwide PC gaming user base continues to increase in size. By 2013, the Enthusiast class will lose market share to the Performance and Mainstream classes, from 46 percent to 35 percent of dollars spent. The good news for Enthusiast hardware producers is that this “market-share shrink” occurs in an expanding market, and expenditures on the Enthusiast class will grow from $9.5 billion to almost $12.5 billion in 2013.
Ted Pollak, video game industry analyst for JPR, cites a number of influences for this phenomenon. “PC hardware has caught up to most of the software, and people are able to play computationally intensive games on Performance-level systems,” he says. “Performance systems now even support high resolution for all but the most demanding simulations and FPSs. The frequency of DirectX updates is also driving some people toward midrange GPUs. Some gamers are buying Performance GPUs at a higher refresh rate to engage the latest DirectX version, instead of a longer term investment for Enthusiast GPUs.”

Despite this phenomenon, the high end will always be a good market. There is a style element to the Enthusiast class as well as what we call a “muscle car element.” Enthusiast-level hardware purchasers will spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, more to maximize gaming performance, and have the cutting edge of engineering and technology, such as S3D (stereovision) and HD 120Hz monitors.
Jon Peddie, president of JPR, notes that for all levels of hardware, “gamers are ordering, building, and modding their rigs with components that just a few years ago were simply not available with any economy of scale. SSDs, water-cooling, gaming mice and keyboards, and other components have come to the Performance class, and gamers are starting to snap them up.”

In addition to the “PC Gaming Hardware Market Report,” JPR has just released a “Global Market Analysis for Do-It-Yourself (DIY) PC Builds and PC Upgrades.” The market is significant, with approximately $10.4 billion in sales annually. This total addressable market estimate goes beyond video games and includes all purchasing motivation, including business applications.

The analysis includes estimates of refresh rates for system-integrated PCs, gamer system-integrated PCs, DIY builds, and gamer DIY builds. The DIY/upgrade market analysis also estimates the number of DIY-ers, the number of PCs upgraded annually, the system-integrated/DIY ratio, and a component ASP analysis for Mainstream, Performance, and Enthusiast DIY builds.

The “Worldwide PC Gaming Hardware Market” report series by JPR, which covers 33 countries, notebooks, and desktops, comes in three versions: Enthusiast, Performance, and Mainstream, with each selling for $5000 and the set of three for $12,000. With the set is a summary report of the total PC gaming hardware market worldwide.

News: Gaming