Hardware review: Boston Venom 2000-7T
Boston’s Venom balances graphics with rendering power, and James Morris discovers that it’s great at both tasks
- 2 x 2.6GHz Intel Xeon E5-2670 processors
- 32GB PC3-1600 DDR3 RAM
- Nvidia Quadro 5000 graphics with 2.5GB GDDR5 memory
- 128GB Crucial M4 solid-state disk
- 2 x 1TB Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C hard disk
- Gigabit Ethernet networking
- 3 years’ warranty (1st year onsite)
Following on from our two reviews of workstations featuring Intel’s new Romley eight-core Xeon processor (Armari Magnetar X32-AW1275D4 (3DW) and Workstation Specialists WS 2850), this machine from Boston takes a more measured approach than the power-obsessed Workstation Specialists and Armari systems.
Instead of going all-out on the rendering power and offering more mid-range graphics, the 2000-7T Boston has exercised restraint with the raw processing power but opted for higher‑end 3D modelling acceleration.
The Venom 2000-7T has eschewed the top Intel Xeon processors and instead includes a pair of the more modest E5‑2670s, which run at a nominal 2.6GHz rather than 3.1GHz but offer the same features.
Intel Turbo Boost is still available but, with a lower starting frequency, the clocks fall noticeably behind the 3.1GHz model. All eight cores can ramp up to 3GHz for limited periods of extreme load, and up to two cores can rise to 3.3GHz when required.
32 cores of dual CPU awesomeness
Hyper-Threading is on hand as well, splitting each physical core into two virtual ones, so the Venom’s two CPUs are presented as a whopping 32 cores.
Boston has partnered these twin processing powerhouses with an increasingly common allocation of 32GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 memory.
This is arranged as two banks of four 4GB modules, to take full advantage of the bandwidth of the new Xeon’s quad-channel memory architecture.
The 2000-7T has both brawn and brains - offering a balance between rendering and graphics performance
While 32GB will be more than enough for existing applications, the Supermicro motherboard supports up to 512GB, should you need to run really gruelling applications in the future, and eight DIMM slots remain free for upgrade.
Boston has diverged from the Workstation Specialists and Armari systems reviewed last issue by going for a gruntier graphics option in the shape of Nvidia’s Quadro 5000 card.
This offers 352 Cuda processors instead of the 256 found in the 4000, and 2.5GB of frame buffer rather than 2GB, both of which will give it the edge when modelling.
The Venom’s storage provision is very familiar. A 128GB Crucial M4 solid-state disk is provided for extremely quick OS and application loading.
Two 1TB Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 7,200rpm hard disks have been mirrored together for fault‑tolerant data storage, although you could always reconfigure these as a RAID 0 stripe if performance is more important than redundancy.
Close to the fastest
With its 2.6GHz Xeon processors, the Venom didn’t quite keep up with the 3.1GHz-equipped Workstation Specialists and Armari systems when it came to the Maxon Cinebench R11.5 rendering test, with a score of 22.12.
However, this is still faster than anything we’ve tested apart from those and Cryo’s frequency-enhanced Octane EDP-WS.
The OpenGL portion of Cinebench returned a more impressive result of 74.5, the third-fastest score we’ve ever recorded in this test. Highlights from SPECviewperf 11 include 93.91 in maya‑03, the second‑fastest score we’ve seen, and 51.7 in sw-02, a solid performance in the SolidWorks viewset. The lightwave-01 result of 52.2 is a bit more mid-range, as this application is more sensitive to raw CPU clock frequency.
All in all, the Boston Venom 2000-7T is a bit more balanced than the other Xeon E5 systems we’ve tested.
The slower processors mean it’s not quite as accomplished at rendering, but its higher-end graphics make up for this so its modelling is similarly impressive. This machine is a great all-rounder for the entire 3D content creation workflow, but you do pay a notable premium for the faster graphics card.
- Speedy rendering performance
- Great modelling performance
Boston’s Venom 2000-7T balances fast rendering with quick graphics acceleration to provide a system that performs well on both fronts
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Morris has tracked the rise of every new development, from OpenGL accelerators to multiprocessor workstations, over more than 15 years of testing 3D content creation hardware
on Monday, May 28th, 2012 at 4:21 pm under Hardware, Reviews.
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Tags: 3D computer, 3D workstation, Boston Venom 2000-7T, Hardware review, review