Workstation Specialists WS2610

03 September 2010

A dual CPU powerhouse that boasts exceptional compute performance, but with a price tag more at home on a small car it’s likely to play a niche role in the CAD/CAM/CAE market

Product Workstation WS2610
Company name Workstation Specialists
Price £5,055

Workstations don’t come much more powerful than this dual processor machine from Derbybased Workstation Specialists.

Featuring two of Intel’s highest performing Xeon chip, the X5680, the machine boasts a total of twelve CPU cores running at 3.33GHz. This means exceptional amounts of power for rendering and multi-tasking, credentials that were proven out in our new suite of benchmarks.

Under our rendering test we barely had time to put the kettle on as the machine ripped through our HD scene in a mere 123 secs. Here, Intel’s HyperThreading technology plays a significant role and the mental ray rendering engine at the heart of 3ds Max Design 2011 means that the 12 virtual cores are also used to maximum effect.

The machine also performed impressively under our new multi-tasking CAM benchmark. Running two and three concurrent machining operations inside Delcam PowerMill 2010 it showed the WS2610 benefitted greatly from its two physical CPUs, each with their own dedicated memory. We would also expect the machine to shine when multi-tasking with certain Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) operations, though memory bandwidth can become the bottleneck here.

Performance is one thing, but the WS2610 was also able to set the pace under our new benchmarks without breaking into a sweat. With each Xeon X5680 CPU featuring a maximum thermal design power (TDP) of 130W, this was no mean feat. Fan noise became more apparent with repeated testing, but was still relatively quiet for such a powerful machine.

The WS2610’s low duty fans are also tasked with keeping PNY’s new Nvidia Quadro 4000 graphics card running cool – though for what is arguably the hottest running graphics card we’ve ever touched, cool is maybe not the best word to use here. The Quadro 4000 is one of three new Fermi-based professional graphics cards recently launched by Nvidia and under our SolidWorks 2010 graphics test delivered exceptional performance. Workstation Specialists also offers the 2.5GB Quadro 5000 for an additional £840, but we wouldn’t expect much additional benefit for most 3D CAD users.

The rest of the WS2600’s spec is as you would expect from an ultra high-end workstation. 12GB of 1,333MHz ECC DDR-3 memory is included in 2GB modules, leaving six slots free for future upgrades. There’s also plenty of space for additional hard drives as there is only one ‘traditional’ drive in the form of a 1TB 7,200 RPM Seagate Barracuda. While this is reserved for ‘data’, for the main system drive a new generation solid state drive (SSD)  technology slots directly into the PCI Express Bus, instead of using the more common SATA-II interface. Boasting a maximum read speed of 540 MB/sec and a maximum write speed of 480 MB/sec, the 120GB OCZ RevoDrive is a serious piece of kit. To put it in perspective, typical SSDs boast maximum read / write speeds in the region of 200 MB/sec.

From CPUs and memory to hard drive and graphics, the WS2610 is an incredibly high-spec workstation, specifically targeted at those serious about rendering or multitasking. As a result it comes with an equally serious price tag, which at £5,055, is likely it make it a one off purchase for most design and engineering firms.
Greg Corke

To view the benchmark scores please click here

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