AMD, nVidia, and HP – Innovative Solutions Announced

We’re not even halfway through the week, and we have signs of life from three significant players in the compute space:

nVidia GTC 2016’s keynote kicked off today, and the Pascal-based P100 accelerator was announced.  Understanding that nVidia can build their next-generation product stack from the top to the bottom, the implications for their GPU technology are pretty considerable.  First and foremost, this will be one of the initial commercial products to adopt HBM2 memory.  The improvements in available memory densities using HBM2 trump the limitations encountered for the original HBM (AMD’s Radeon Fury line of GPUs) while maintaining the bandwidth advantages.  The “supercomputer in a box” offering (a.k.a the DGX-1) is a technical tour de force that offers an impressive display of incredible performance at density.  While the $129,000 price tag may initially limit adoption to the target audiences identified in the keynote, the potential to moderate price with overall GPU capability opens up sales to new markets at a later point in time.  If the high-end of nVidia’s consumer and professional GPU lineup leverage a Pascal-based solution that isn’t too far cut down from the top-of-the-line P100, then we’ll all be in for a treat later this year.

AMD executed with a bold strategy by pre-announcing their Bristol Ridge APU.  Although this is not the next-generation Zen architecture that many would have hoped for, it does demonstrate signs of life for the underdog beyond the minor clock refreshes and new coolers for their stagnant product line.  The improved manufacturing process for these solutions, when combined with current generation memory technology, provide another bump in performance that benefits the value-conscious consumer.  As long as it’s reasonably priced, offerings such as the HP model mentioned in the link may strike the right balance that resonates with consumers.

Speaking of HP, someone in the organization must have finally gotten the memo about producing an overabundance of mediocre laptops in a contracting market.  With consolidation efforts underway by Japanese laptop manufacturers (Toshiba, Vaio, Fujitsu) to improve profitability in this new reality, stocking store shelves with an overabundance of hunks of plastic containing 720p screens, low end processors, and lackluster input mechanisms is the wrong approach.  Taking a page out of the Dell XPS and Apple playbooks, HP went big with the latest iteration of its Spectre line.  While the keyboard doesn’t look like much of an evolution over the mediocre offering in its business-class laptop line, the fact that they’ve created the slimmest solution produced thus far without considerably compromising the compute within the solution is astonishing.

Although the price touches (and will exceed once you maximize the configuration) MacBook territory, the laptop is certainly aesthetically pleasing.  As long as the lessons of the past related to thermals (I’m looking at you HP EliteBook 8470w with your gigantic chassis and multiple replacement cooling solutions) have been accounted for and the laptop doesn’t throttle when you blink, this solution should help demonstrate to HP that people really do want to get their money’s worth when buying a premium laptop.  Quality over quantity is how you earn the business and keep the customer base.

 

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