Computer Graphics World

Edition 1 2021

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30 cgw j a n • f e b • m a r c h 2 0 2 1 W orkstation and workstation products are essential to any type of graphics work. But, what will workstations of the future bring? Speed of course, and security too, as well as diversity. Here we examine recent work- station-related trends and what we can expect tomorrow. Market size and forecast. In third-quarter 2020, workstation ship- ments declined. Most home offices were set up in Q2. However, the year-over-year (YoY) growth for mobile workstations was just 6.5%, well down from Q1 and Q2. And fixed desktop shipments dropped -38.4% YoY. That was the most severe YoY decline since the 2008 recession. Overall, the industry shipped approximately 1.30 mil- lion units. The outlook for 2021 still looks good. There should be a rapid return to normalcy aer COVID is under control. Trends in CPU developments. Intel has been the undisputed leader in workstation CPUs. Its workstation CPU Xeon brand, and high-end consumer Core processor, held 99+ percent of the market. Intel introduced its third-generation Whitley platform in 2020. There was a 10nm+ 28-core Ice Lake- SP and the Cedar Island Platform's 20-core 14nm+++ Cooper Lake. There will also be a 56-core variant in the Cooper Lake. In mid-2020, AMD announced its 7nm 64-core Threadripper Pro workstation processor. AMD Ryzen processors are also being employed for workstations. Lenovo introduced an exclusive P620 ThinkSta- tion Threadripper-based workstation, a significant vote of confidence to AMD, and a bid for markets where rendering and parallel computing play vital roles – entertainment content creation and some segments of design and engineering. Historically, AMD launches a workstation processor as a fol- low-on to the consumer processor launch. And in late 2020, the company began offer- ing its Vermeer consumer x86 processors. Also in 2020, Apple introduced its Arm- based Mac Pro notebook. Speculation that the company will also use Arm in its work- station has bubbled up. Arm processors are used in supercomputers, so the idea is not so far-fetched. Trends in GPU developments. Nvidia has been the workstation leader and had the Quadro brand for add-in boards (AIBs) and mobile. In late 2020, the company dropped the Quadro brand. The new AIBs are the 8nm 84-core RTX A6000 (for Ampere) and A40. The RTX AIBs have 48GB of GDDR6 memory with error-correcting code (ECC). Further in 2020, AMD introduced its 7nm 22-core RDNA-based Radeon Pro W5500 workstation AIBs with 8GB GDDR6 and its mobile W5500M GPU. Trends in displays. In 2020, 21- and 32- inch 4K, 10-bit HDR monitors became es- tablished. Dell and LG introduced a 49-inch 88% 4K curved monitor. The 8K monitor introduced by Dell in 2017 and professional (studio) color monitors from HP and BenQ sold to specific application users. We also saw a new 3D display introduced. Sony Electronics announced the debut of its Spatial Reality Display (SR Display). It is a stereo 3D display made with Sony's Eye-Sensing Light Field Display (ELFD) technology. The display does not need virtual-re- ality glasses or a headset. And Sony is not alone in this market. Looking Glass Factory also has a glasses-free 3D display. Looking Glass offers a 15.6-inch display that starts at $3,000; with touch it costs $6,000. The offering provides a 50-de- gree cone view. In 2021, we will see 40-inch curved 4K and 5K IPS HDR monitors announced. Trends in apps. Ray tracing and digital twins were the most oen mentioned developments, along with the explosion of data and how to manage it. VR and AR took hold. The notable change will be in adaptive and supportive soware based on AI predictive behavior. Pixar's USD gained more adopters, and Nvidia built an entire ecosystem around it called Omniverse. Working at home considerations. In 2020, COVID-19 hit, and people were sent home to work. What they worked on and how they worked were quite diverse. Enter- prises scrambled to outfit engineers and designers with equipment to empower their creativity and productivity. Cloud, rack, local WS, remote WS, and thin client. All scenarios were possible, and the ratios shi every week – one-size does not fit all. Many engineers took home their laptops, and others got new ones. Maybe lucky timing or incredible planning, but Dell was ready with a powerful new 17-inch 5K mobile workstation. It has a 5K display driv- en by an Nvidia Quadro GPU. Some users tapped into their powerful tower workstations in the office using tech like HP's Z-Central Remote Boost. Others connected to the cloud and set up virtual machines. In both cases, the data never le the big office workstation or the rack-mount- ed workstations in the cloud. Only pixels Workstation Perspective A LOOK BACKWARD AND FORWARD ON THE WORKSTATION MARKET BY JON PEDDIE

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