Lenovo ThinkStation P920 and P720 unleash Xeon power


— 9:35 AM on September 12, 2017

AMD's Ryzen Threadripper brought up to 16 cores and 32 threads to the PC party. Intel's Skylake-X Core X CPUs have up to 18 cores and 36 threads in their back pocket. For some sensitive workloads, even the might of the latest high-end desktop chips is woefully insufficient. Lenovo's ThinkStation P720 and ThinkStation P920 pack dual Xeon Bronze, Gold, or Platinum processors for those in need of serious horsepower.

The machines offer support for six channels of ECC DDR4 memory along with multiple M.2 and PCIe slots for adding fast storage and workstation graphics cards. Each of the LGA 3647 sockets can ensconse a CPU with up to 28 cores and and 56 threads. Lenovo says the core count and memory bandwidth make the two ThinkStations up to 43% faster than their forebears. The list of optional graphics cards includes Nvidia's exquisitely expensive Quadro P6000 and Quadro GP100. 

The ThinkStation 920 is Lenovo's top-of-the-line workstation. The machine has five PCIe x16 slots plus three PCIe x4 slots, and enough room for up to three dual-slot graphics cards. Up to 2 TB of 2666 MT/s DDR4 memory can fit into the whopping 16 DIMM slots. Buyers can fit a pair of NVMe storage drives in the two RAID-capable M.2 slots on the motherboard.

The chassis has room for four 3.5" drives and a pair of empty 5.25" external bays that can be rigged to fit two more 3.5" devices. All the hardware is powered by a 92%-efficient 1400 W power supply. The front of the machine has audio jacks and four USB 3.0 ports. The rear of the chassis has a pair of Ethernet jacks, four more USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, two PS/2 connectors, and more audio jacks. The gear fits into a chassis measuring 7.9" wide, 24.4" deep, and 17.6" tall (20 cm x 62 cm x 45 cm).

Lenovo's ThinkStation P720 fits most of the hardware its sibling contains into a more compact chassis that measures 6.9" wide, 19.1" deep, and 17.6" tall (18 cm x 49 cm x 45 cm). The expansion card layout changes to three PCIe x16 slots, one PCIe x8 connector, one PCIe x4 slot, and one regular PCI slot. The smaller chassis is limited to fitting"only" two dual-slot Quadro cards cards inside. The number of DDR4 memory slots falls from 16 to 12, and the maximum memory capacity plummets to a "mere" 384 GB. Buyers can choose between 690 W and 900 W power supplies. Despite the machine's smaller size, the storage options are nearly identical, with the only loss being one 5.25" external drive bay.

The prices on the ThinkStation P720 and ThinkStation P920 haven't been announced, but they're sure to be heart-stopping. Lenovo says the machines are focused at the architecture, engineering, construction, and oil and gas exploration industries who are all willing to pay large sums for access to immense computational resources. The manufacturer expects to start shipping systems in late October.

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