Intel’s Sapphire Rapids is coming to Workstations

After many years without a significant update to most major workstation offerings, we are finally seeing new technology about to hit the workstation market.  Intel’s recently released Sapphire Rapids server CPU technology, built on the ‘Intel 7’ process, forms the basis for their new Sapphire Rapids workstation platform.  These processors come in two tiers, the Xeon W-2400 processors with quad channel DDR5 memory and up to 24 cores, and the Xeon W-3400 processors, with 8-channel DDR5 memory and up to 56 cores.
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The GeForce 4090 is a Monster of a GPU

As the first product coming to market featuring NVidia’s new Ada Lovelace architecture, the GeForce 4090 graphics card has a host of new features to test out.  With DLSS3 for gaming, AV1 encoding for video editors and streamers, and ray tracing and AI rendering for 3D animators, there are new options available for a variety of different potential users.  While the GeForce line of video cards has historically been targeted towards computer gaming, NVidia knows that they are also valuable tools for content creators, and a number of new features are designed especially for those users.
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NVidia’s Ada Lovelace Architecture Announced

NVidia announced their next generation of GPU architecture, named after Ada Lovelace, who is an interesting figure in early computer programming.  NVidia’s newest Ada Lovelace chips have up to 18,432 CUDA cores, and up to 76 Billion transistors, at 4nm sizes.  This will of course lead to increased processing performance at lower prices and power usage.
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Pushing the Envelope with Premiere Pro

I have been working on a series of advanced tutorial videos I call “Pushing the Envelope with Premiere Pro.”  Originally conceived as an Adobe MAX session topic, I have instead posted them on YouTube, free to anyone who wants to view them.  They assume you are familiar with the application, and explore some of the more advanced and creative ways that you can utilize the unique functionality available within Premiere.
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Professional Ampere GPUs from NVidia

NVidia has quite a long selection of professional GPUs available based on the Ampere generation chips.  While this offers users finer gradations in pricing and performance, it can be more confusing than previous generations, especially since they have dropped the “Quadro” branding.  My understanding is that one of the main reasons there are so many options is not just the binning of chips, but supply chain issues with the rest of the parts on the board.  Unlike gaming cards where a source part can be swapped and a new revision of the card can be produced without much issue, the professional cards that have been certified by software vendors with very precise conditions, need to maintain those exact specifications.  So different versions are created using easier to source parts, and certified again, allowing both cards to be produced as separate options.  The main additions to the series are the A4500 and the A5500, which fit as expected between the existing A4000, A5000, and A6000 cards.  The A4500 which I have been testing, sits nearly dead center between the A4000 and A5000 on all paper specs (cores, memory, teraflops, etc.), while the A5500 nearly matches the A6000 in processing power, but with the same memory limits as the A5000.  While these new cards were announced in the spring, I am finally getting the chance to test one out now.
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Boxx’s Apexx S3 – Intel’s Alder Lake Maxxed Out

I have spent the last few weeks using Boxx’s newest iteration of their Apexx S3 Workstation, and it is quite impressive. Based on Intel’s “Alder Lake” CPUs, with DDR5, it is technically a workstation built from gaming class hardware, but this just makes it more power efficient and budget friendly. And with a 5Ghz Core i9 CPU and 64GB of RAM, it doesn’t lack in performance.
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NAB 2022

Mike McCarthy   April 27, 2022   No Comments on NAB 2022

NAB has returned to Las Vegas this week, as an in person event for the first time in three years.  Due to this, there are many new products being announced and launched from all sorts of media related companies.  Unsurprisingly, many of them focus on remote workflows and post, which have been relevant to me since before Covid.  So here is a quick summary of the bits of news that stand out to me.
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GTC 2022 – NVidia Isn’t Slowing Down

NVidia is hosting GTC 2022 this week, which is mostly focused on supercomputing and AI uses for their graphics processors, but there a few announcements that are relevant to content creators as well.  Indirectly, the new generation of H100 “Hopper” GPUs in NVidia’s new DGX supercomputers give us a look at what may be coming to the next generation of graphics cards later this year.  And the upcoming Grace CPUs may someday bring ARM processors to powerful PCs, the way that M1 chips are bringing ARM architecture to Mac systems.  I don’t know for sure if “Hopper” is going to be limited to supercomputing uses, like Volta was, or will become the basis for the next generation of graphics cards.  But with 60 TeraFLOPS of processing power, it could eventually support GPUs with 50% more performance than the current A6000.  And with a peak 700W TDP in its current SXM form factor, we see why higher wattage power connectors are coming to market in preparation.
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Finding the “Best” Workstation

I have had the unique opportunity to test the two most powerful single socket workstations available  on the market today.  Last year’s review of the Lenovo Thinkstation P620 looked at what is still the only new desktop workstation to be released by a major system vendor since 2017.  It’s Threadripper Pro 3995WX 64 core processor is the pinnacle of AMD’s Threadripper CPU lineup, and the only Threadripper based system available from a major manufacturer.  More recently I have had the opportunity to test out Boxx’s Xeon W 3300 based Apexx Matterhorn workstation.  With 38 Cores, 8 channels of memory, and 64 PCIe lanes, the Xeon W 3375 processor is the single socket version of Intel’s newest “Ice Lake” Xeon chips. Continue reading

The End of Dual Socket Workstations?

High-End Computers and Workstations
I have always been a fan of top end computer systems.  Truth be told, the reason I originally got involved with digital video production back in high school, was because it was the coolest thing you could do with computers.  Multi-processor systems have fascinated me since I ordered a dual socket Pentium3 motherboard from the Tiger Direct catalog in 2000.  I have had the opportunity to use a lot of the fastest systems that were commercially available over the last two decades, as I continued to find myself on projects that pushed the envelope of what was currently possible in video and post production.  For many years, I would never have considered using anything less than a dual socket workstation, with the most powerful processor available.  But that is no longer the case, and not because I am not longer using cutting edge workflows, but because of changes in how computers are designed and marketed.
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