ThinkStation S20

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Lenovo’s new Nehalem Xeon-based workstation lineup comprises the ThinkStation S20 (S for single processor) and the ThinkStation D20 (D for dual processor). While the D20 is likely to grab the attention of power hungry simulation and rendering specialists, for CAD it’s the S20 all the way.

For SolidWorks, Inventor, Solid Edge et al, a single fast processor is optimal and the 3.2GHz Xeon W3570 CPU at the heart this ThinkStation S20 test machine is the fastest you can get.

The machine is incredibly responsive and makes light work of single threaded operations, which form the code base for the majority of CAD applications. However, there are also three additional cores to set to work on analysis and rendering tasks. 6GB of RAM and Windows XP x64 Edition provide plenty of capacity for even the most complex of models.

ThinkStation S20

This high-end computational power is backed up with Nvidia’s impressive Quadro FX 1800 graphics cards. A high performance VelociRaptor hard drive rounds off the spec.
Of course a workstation is much more than its constituent parts, and the ThinkStation S20 is an excellent machine in its own right. The chassis is well built, solid and compact and the system runs incredibly quiet even under load.

Interestingly, Lenovo offers Nvidia’s Tesla C1060 GPU computing solution as an option in the S20. It’s still very early days for this technology (see p18), but if your CAE needs really take off in the future, this could become a viable way to boost computational performance for simulation, particularly as the S20 has no room to add a second CPU.

All in all, the ThinkStation S20 is an excellent workstation for CAD. At £2,179 it doesn’t come cheap, but for those without such high performance requirements, cutting the system RAM to 3GB and going down a notch or two on the CPU can take make this much more attractive to those on a budget.


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Graphics (bigger is better) SolidWorks 2009 – 33.8 3ds Max Design 2009 – 224 Inventor 2009 – 3.8
CPU (smaller is better) 3ds Max Design – 618 secs

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