Chip giant Intel is upping the ante in entry-level workstation performance with the announcement of the Intel Xeon processor E3-1200 product family, part of its 2nd Generation Intel Core processor line, which integrates new professional graphics capabilities to boost the performance of CAD, 3-D imaging and digital media applications.
The E3-1200, in tandem with the Intel C206 chipset, offer a micro-architecture that combines visual and 3-D graphics technology with performance-leading microprocessors on a single chip. The result is the first entry-level workstation platform that integrates professional-level graphics technology-the Intel HD Graphics P3000-directly onto the processor, providing entry-level workstation users with graphics and visualization performance previously reserved for users outfitting their systems with a separate, third-party professional graphics card. Systems based on the new E3-1200 platform will be available from most major workstation vendors, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo, in the next 30 to 60 days, Intel officials said.
The new workstation platform essentially brings the graphics performance gains afforded by Intel's new Sandy Bridge architecture to an entry-level workstation platform, including increased core counts and additional performance in floating point operations, according to John Hengeveld, workstation marketing director in Intel's data center group. The team studied how 2-D and 3-D CAD applications use data to fine tune a driver stack that would provide a substantial boost in performance for these kinds of applications, especially compared to prior generation workstations or Intel's Business client solutions.
"If you can get that level of performance out of the box with an entry-level solution, you're more likely to use those kind of richer design applications," Hengeveld says. As such, the systems to be built on the new E3-1200 platform will be aimed at entry-level 2-D and 3-D CAD users, not higher-end users that are neo HPC [High Performance Computing] users," he explained.
The new Xeon E3-1200 workstation platform will also support Error Correcting Code (ECC) memory, a feature typically found on higher-end systems, to improve data integrity and system uptime. The platform will also support Intel's vPro technology, a set of security features that make it easier for IT to manage workstations, both physically and remotely.