Post Magazine

June 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 33 of 43 32 POST JUNE 2018 WORKSTATIONS planning departments didn't factor in the upgrade schedules of ISVs and hardware suppliers, leaving their engineers with outdated workstations and applications. In the past few years, though, plan- ning departments have learned to include a fudge factor in their budget to allow for surprises — the ISVs don't always have predictable or reliable update schedules. A general rule of thumb has been to plan for a re- fresh of hardware and update of software every two to three years; any longer than that and you find yourself behind the curve compared to competitors, and over time, it only gets worse. A workstation is a tool, and if you don't have the right tools, you can't do your job — it's that simple (and your job is to stay on time in a project and at least even with, if not ahead, of the competition). End-User Influence The survey shows that end users are very involved in the workstation purchasing process. The re- spondents indicated that while IT can make work- station decisions, they almost never make those choices independently. The department manager and end users tell IT what software is being used and how many hours a day it will be under stress. Once IT figures out the workload and looks at the budget, they then buy the workstation. The technical and business decision-makers more often look to outside consultants/VARs to help with selecting workstations, and less so their IT department, if they even have one. North American firms are more inclined to use VARs, while China is significantly less inclined, according to the survey results. The US and UK give more autonomy to the line-of-business buyer, whereas China relies more on IT. The Whole Picture The key takeaway from this survey informa- tion is that workstations have a strong hold on power users and those who need uncompro- mised uptime and performance. The new multi-, multi-core processors now being placed in workstations — and, in some cases, two of them in a workstation — are mind-bogglingly power- ful, and yet users still want more FLOPS, more memory and more display resolution. The workstation users who responded to the Intel survey quantified their opinions with regard to several criteria concerning a workstation and its procurement, which is summarized in the table on this page. Health/biotech/science, energy/oil and gas, and M&E are applications where users expressed the highest CPU needs, faster refreshes, and are cur- rent users of the Xeon processor. Manufacturing firms are attracted to fast refreshes (in part due to leases) and the need for ECC and multi-threading, and AEC firms give it the lowest priority with lesser CPU needs and slower refreshes. Geographically, China ranks the CPU as the most important component, while in North America and Europe, I/O and memory are most critical. In my book, "The History of Visual Magic in Computers," I trace the introduction of the workstation to the IBM 1620, a small scientific computer designed to be used interactively by a single person sitting at the console. Introduced in 1959, it was the first integrated workstation — just not a graphics workstation. Since then, workstations have become 10,000 times more powerful, 1,000 times smaller, and 1,000 times less expensive. Today, you can get a very powerful laptop workstation weighing less than four pounds for less than $2,000. And the hunger for workstations continues. The market has grown from 50 units a year to over four million units a year, and even with a declining av- erage selling price due to Moore's law, the market has shown steady and robust growth in value. All the things we enjoy today — air travel, fantastic movies and games, giant skyscrapers, clever consumer products and even our clothes — are or have been designed on a workstation. To say we couldn't live without workstations would be an understatement. But workstations are workhorses and not very sexy, so they don't get headlines, tweets or much Facebook time. If your car represented life, then workstations would be the pistons: You know they're there, they do their job, but you don't think about or talk much about them. Today's workstation ranges from devices as small as a couple packs of cigarettes to big boxes, and everything in between, including laptops. The survey captured some of the ideas users have about workstations, and some of their atti- tudes with regard to buying one (or a hundred). And if it proved one thing, it is that opinions and needs vary geographically, by applications and industry, and, of course, budget. After all, there isn't a workstation market, there are dozens of workstation markets. Jon Peddie (jon@jonpeddie) is president of Jon Peddie Research, a Tiburon, CA-based consultancy specializing in graphics and multimedia that also publishes JPR's "TechWatch." In addition to following and reporting on workstations for the past 35-plus years, he is also the author of the recent book, Augmented Reality: Where We Will All Live. WHO DECIDES WHAT TO BUY IT department 8% 37% 27% 28% End user, IT and LOB manager External IT firm/VAR The LOB manager The workload, user input and line-of-business department managers are key in the purchase process. Architecture Construction Manufacturing Media & Entertainment Healthcare/Biotech/ Science Energy/Oil & Gas Financial Services CPU Component Rank Workstation Refresh (years)* Current Xeon Preference CPU Performance a Top Priority ECC Very Critical Multi-threading Critical (multi-task) 2 5 2 2 1 1 1 3.5 3.2 2.2 2.4 2.5 2.0 2.5 LOW MEDIUM LOW HIGH HIGH MEDIUM MEDIUM LOW LOW MEDIUM MEDIUM MEDIUM MEDIUM HIGH LOW MEDIUM HIGH HIGH MEDIUM LOW HIGH LOW LOW HIGH HIGH HIGH MEDIUM MEDIUM PRIORITY TARGETS BY VERTICAL COMPARISON OF APP NEEDS FOR VARIOUS WORKSTATION COMPONENTS.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Post Magazine - June 2018