Last week I had the opportunity to meet with executives from Lenovo, Intel, NVIDIA and DreamWorks at DreamWorks Studios in Glendale, California to discuss Lenovo’s new ThinkStation P-Series workstations. This wasn’t just any workstation launch; It showcased a complete redesign of Lenovo’s workstation lineup, with a significant upgrade to CPUs and GPUs to boost performance significantly.
Lenovo also worked with Aston Martin to design the case for the new P Series. Lenovo is Aston Martin’s exclusive workstation partner; This new collaboration takes the two companies’ partnership to the next level, allowing each to improve the other’s performance. I also spoke to Lenovo Vice President Rob Herman, who leads the company’s Workstation and Client AI business, about the new products and how Lenovo continues to accelerate its customers’ workflows with even faster and more powerful workstations.
The new P-Series workstations
The new models replace the existing P-series with the P300, P520, P620, P720 and P920 workstations, all of which used last-generation Intel CPUs and Nvidia GPUs. The P300 represented an entry-level offering, while the P500 and P600 covered the mid-range and the P720 and P920 the high-end of the market. Lenovo’s new P-Series includes the P5, P7 and PX (aka P10), which help to consolidate the mid-range and high-end offering, but then also introduce a whole new level of performance with the PX.
All of these new P-Series workstations feature the new Aston Martin-inspired design language and airflow solution, making them a little more different than previous generations. Additionally, Lenovo has introduced an exciting new design principle where all “tool-free” buttons and latches inside and outside the workstation are red-coded for ease of use.
Demonstration of the three-channel cooling solution.Anshel Sag
The Lenovo PX
The PX really is the pinnacle of the P Series. One of the largest models in the new series, this rack-mountable device increases the number of supported Nvidia GPUs from three in the P920 to four in the PX. The PX is also a dual-socket system, meaning it can handle up to 120 cores of Intel-based CPUs and effectively cool them alongside up to four GPUs. Lenovo packs Intel’s latest 4th Gen Xeon Scalable processors, codenamed Sapphire Rapids, into all P-Series workstations, including the PX, which support configurations with up to 120 cores with a claimed average 53% increase in CPU performance over the enable previous generation. (We’ve covered Sapphire Rapids processors extensively, both when they first came to market and when they’re applied to workstations.) The Intel-based platform also supports up to 2TB of DDR5 RAM and PCIe Gen 5 connectivity via storage and graphics, enabling high-bandwidth transmissions between the many powerful components.
The PX also supports Nvidia’s latest RTX 6000 Ada-gen GPUs, which feature 48GB of GDDR6-ECC VRAM per GPU; This allows for up to 192 GB of VRAM per system, enabling all kinds of high-performance local applications that might otherwise need to run on an HPC cluster. This power also comes with an 1850 watt power supply unit (PSU), with optional redundant power supplies available.
Lenovo designed the new PX as a hybrid machine that can enable HPC-like performance at a user’s desk or be deployed in a data center to replicate that experience remotely. I like what Lenovo has done with the PX, and it’s pretty clear that the company wants to maintain its performance leadership with the P-Series. Indeed, the PX is an excellent demonstration of that leadership.
The Lenovo P5 and P7
Alongside the PX, Lenovo has also launched the P7 and P5, which use Intel’s latest Xeon W processors, offering up to 56 and 24 cores respectively in a single socket, and up to three and two NVIDIA RTX 6000 Ada GPUs, respectively. The P7, like the PX, is 4U high and rack mountable, while the P5 is not. All three systems also ship with Lenovo’s ThinkStation Diagnostics 2.0, the ThinkShield security portfolio, upgrades to Premier Support, and a three-year warranty. All three workstations will be available from May 2023.
The P5 and P7 bring significant performance gains over comparable previous generation models, as well as Aston Martin’s improved airflow and design language. Based on Lenovo’s specs and target markets, I expect the P7 to be extremely popular and probably the most widespread of the new devices, especially as it replaces the top end of the previous P series.
Target users for Lenovo P-series workstations
In terms of workloads, Lenovo positions these workstations differently, with the PX intended for “complex workflows” including 3D VFX and CAE simulation. Lenovo has also positioned the PX for desktop and data center environments thanks to its rack-mountable design and the fact that it can be easily switched to remote operation for a user within a data center. Lenovo also talks about using the P-Series for virtual reality, mixed reality, and virtual production applications, as well as machine learning, data science, reality capture, and AI.
The PX is a beast of a system, but the P5 and P7 are no slouches, especially with the configurations they allow for. Lenovo says the P7 is aimed more at content creators, architects, designers, engineers and data scientists and suits a broader user profile than the PX, although the PX could also serve as a more powerful tier for P7 users.
Swanborg, Lenovo’s Rob Herman, NVIDIA’s Bob Pette, Lenovo’s Kirk Skaugen, Aston Martin’s Cathal Loughnane, and Intel’s Roger ChandlerAnshel Sag
At the California event, Lenovo hosted a panel discussion with executives from all the companies involved in the launch of the new P-Series. The executives answered questions about the new systems and how they can be used in different capacities. Lenovo also allowed us to look inside the systems and inspect the various components. We even had a fully virtual experience, supported by a Lenovo workstation and a Varjo XR-3 headset, so we could virtually disassemble and inspect the many different features and components of the ThinkStation PX. The company also says it will have an augmented reality experience, allowing customers to replicate that experience without a VR headset.
on a last generation Lenovo workstation Anshel Sag
Lenovo has done an impeccable job with its new ThinkStation P series workstations. The company has also made the most of the timing of its refresh with Intel’s latest launch of the Xeon Scalable 4. These new components, coupled with the improved thermal characteristics and attractive design signature co-developed with Aston Martin, reinforce Lenovo’s position as the leading provider of powerful workstations for professionals. It will be great to see how these systems – particularly the PX – are adopted by customers when they become generally available in May.
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