Lenovo Introduces New ThinkStation P-Series

At SIGGRAPH 2014 in Vancouver, Lenovo introduced their new ThinkStation P-series workstations. Following the introduction of the entry-level P300 in May, Lenovo is introducing the ThinkStation P500, P700 and P900 systems.

These systems fill out the range of Lenovo's newly designed workstations with a line of expandable tower machines ranging from the single-processor, dual-GPU P500 up to the P900, a dual-processor top-of-the-line system capable of handling up to three Quadro K6000s and a terabyte of RAM.

Here's a look at the new machines rounded up:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 ThinkStation P500ThinkStation P700ThinkStation P900
CPUNext Generation Intel Xeon Processor2 Next Generation Intel Xeon Processors2 Next Generation Intel Xeon Processors
MemoryUp to 256GB DDR4 (512GB with 64GB DIMMs, custom config)  (8 DIMMs)Up to 384GB DDR4 (768GB with 6GB DIMMs, custom config) (12 DIMMs)Up to 512GB DDR4 (1024GB with 64GB DIMMs, custom config) (16 DIMMs)
Max StorageUp to 11 storage devices (8 internal + 2 external + 1 M.2)Up to 12 storage devices (8 internal + 2 external + 2 M.2)Up to 14 storage devices (8 internal + 2 external + 4 M.2)
X16 PCIe Slots234
Storage SupportSupport for 12Gbps SAS and up to 32Gbps PCIe
Expansion7 expansion slots, 4x USB 3.0, Firewire & serial port options7 expansion slots, 4x USB 3.0, Firewire & serial port options10 expansion slots, 4x USB 3.0, Firewire & serial port options
Card Reader9:1 Card Reader standard, 29:1 Card Reader Optional
RAID SupportRAID 0,1,5,10 support
EthernetGigabit EthernetGigabit Ethernet (2 ports)Gigabit Ethernet (2 ports)
Dimensions (mm)440 x 470 x 175 (HxDxW)440 x 470 x 175 (HxDxW)440 x 620 x 200 (HxDxW)

The ThinkStation P500 and P700 share a common case but offer different motherboards and slightly different internal configurations. The ThinkStation P900 uses a vastly larger case for better expansion capability.

Other features of the new ThinkStation P-series design include:

  • Tool-less design - Components can be swapped and upgraded without the need for tools, up to and including the motherboard.
  • Red touch points - Component access handles and latches are marked in red.
  • Integrated handles - Handles designed into the case allow for easier manipulation of the case, without sticking out of the case, and allow for easier rack mounting.
  • Diagnostic port - One of the front USB ports can transfer diagnostic information to an Android tablet, smartphone, or other USB device for analysis using the ThinkStation app.
  • QR codes - Components are labeled with QR codes that direct the user to the Lenovo website for more information on that component.

Looking Closer at the ThinkStation P900

We got a chance to get a closer look at the ThinkStation P900 and P700 and saw what the internal arrangement and case design are like:

The P900 has a mechanical latching handle on the side that is pulled forward. Inside, Lenovo uses shrouds to define three separate pathways: one for the CPUs, one for the power supply, and another for other components. Technically, the P900's channel for 'other components' is split in half by the air baffle for the CPU.

The power supply is at the top of the unit and is removed by actuating a single lever, which pops it out of the unit.

In order to enable the system to handle more storage options without sacrificing expansion slots, Lenovo has incorporated what they call a FLEX connection that takes a mezzanine card.

The connector itself is based off of a PCIe x4 connector. One of these is visible on the top of the motherboard just past the end of the uppermost x16 PCIe slot. The other is below the CPUs, along with the other expansion slots. According to Lenovo, the second FLEX connector (which is, technically, the one above the CPUs) is only active if both CPU sockets are occupied. The placement of the mezzanine cards, unfortunately, means that when occupied, they would block the use of PCIe cards longer than about 11 inches, or block the usage of cards like RAID cards that use ports on the end of the card to connect to their drives. To help compensate for that, Lenovo anticipates having hardware RAID support that can be attached to the mezzanine card.

In the middle, the CPU fans are oriented to draw air through two heatsinks. The air baffle ensures the second CPU is not ingesting air heated by the first processor.

… And the ThinkStation P700

The P700's smaller case means less expansion, and the dual processors and extra x16 PCIe slot over the P500 mean the case configuration is more… interesting. The power supply is at the bottom.

To make the dual CPUs fit into the P700's case, it uses heatsinks where the fan and fins are offset from the sink itself by use of heatpipes.

The P700's FLEX connector slot can be seen just past the end of the GPU slots. Once again, the placement may interfere with the use of the neighboring slot for certain cards.

At press time, certain particulars were not available, including pricing, chipset, and processor models and numbers. Due to their being listed as 'next-generation Xeons' and the use of DDR4 memory, we presume that they are Haswell-E machines, and that information will become available in September.

Lenovo anticipates the ThinkStation P-Series will be available starting in late September through Lenovo sales partners and through their web site at www.lenovo.com.

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