Precision Workstations: 20 Years of More, Now for Less


Few products can boast performance improvements of 32,000 times over a lifetime, while dropping their cost by 18,000 times. But the Dell Precision workstation can. It’s the 20th anniversary of this #1-rated professional computing platform, with uses ranging from searching for oil to creating special effects for the some of the world’s most popular movies and TV shows.

If one thing sets the Precision workstation family apart from its PC cousins, it’s “more” — more CPU cores, more RAM, more storage, more of everything. Today’s Dell Precision workstations also offer 2,800 times the graphics performance and 240 times the memory bandwidth compared to their predecessors. And it’s all highly optimized for the heavy-duty computational demands of the world’s engineering, architecture, oil and gas, and media and entertainment industries.

For example, Precision workstations are designed and engineered with special cooling techniques and heat-dissipating materials to effectively manage the heat that their powerful CPUs generate. Then there’s the Dell Precision Optimizer that delivers the best ratio of power and performance to applications by adjusting the settings of many workstation components, such as CPU frequencies, RAM usage, graphics speed, storage, operating system, BIOS and software drivers.

Establishing Industry Firsts That Continue Today

When the Dell Precision workstation debuted in 1997, it wasn’t the first of its kind. Storied names in the high-tech industry that are now history — Apollo Computer, Silicon Graphics and Sun Microsystems — had head starts of many years each. But Dell quickly established many firsts of its own:

  • First mobile workstation, 2001
  • First rack-mounted workstation, 2008
  • First VR-ready workstation, 2016
  • First workstation powerful enough to develop and deploy machine learning and AI applications and algorithms, 2017

Helping Users Do More—More Quickly and More Competitively

Dell Precision workstations pioneered many commoditized technologies now found in PCs — 64-bit processing, multiple CPUs and high-end graphics accelerators among them. Even today, they are still designed, engineered and built to help architects, engineers, designers, scientists and many other specialists to do what was not possible without them and to get more done more quickly.

Take virtual reality, for example. As a digital entertainment company, 30 Ninjas creates 360° virtual reality content for film and television. Its original VR series called Invisible presented unique challenges to its creative team’s workflow. With the high-end CPU and GPU power of a Dell Precision 7910 workstation equipped with NVIDIA graphics cards, they could get full resolution playback in real time on their VR headsets. This required processing extremely large quantities of data required for 360° video while also running graphics-heavy programs at full throttle.

Or consider how Halliburton Landmark provides customers with the ability to look deep inside the Earth and find oil much more quickly. Its solution consists of Dell Precision 7720 workstations with NVIDIA graphics cards, VR headsets and Dell Canvas 27-inch touch screen displays.

The workstations enable users to manipulate seismic data sets of up to a terabyte in size to create 3D simulations of potential oil deposits. Then, using the Canvas display or VR headsets, petroleum engineers can better visualize and understand where oil resides and how to reach it.

One customer reduced its oil-well planning cycles from 80 days to just 8 hours. This not only saves staff time, but also gives the company a much greater advantage over competitors in bidding drilling jobs.

Continuing to Provide More, Now for Less

Petroleum engineers were among the many professional disciplines that cheered when Dell introduced the world’s first mobile workstation 16 years ago. It let them take the power of a Dell Precision desktop workstation into the field with the convenience of a laptop form factor. This made a huge difference in how they worked, vastly reducing cycle times involved in data entry, analysis and modeling.

To celebrate these capabilities and 20 years of helping the world’s many industries drive all kinds of innovations, Dell recently introduced the Precision 5520 mobile workstation anniversary edition. It’s the world’s thinnest, lightest, smallest 15″ mobile workstation with 7th Generation Intel® processors and PremierColor 4K InfinityEdge display. Available for a limited time in an exclusive brushed Abyss Anodized exterior design, it weighs less than 4 pounds, comes with 6 ports and enhanced batteries for a full day of field use. And the base Linux model —  with compute capabilities approaching multimillion-dollar supercomputing power two decades ago — is priced just a bit over $2,000.

Find out more about the Dell Precision workstation family history and the many new Precision models being introduced this month. Capable of supporting VR, augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence, they’re already setting firsts that will be part of the next 20 years of Dell workstation history.

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