The Dell Precision WorkStation 610 resembles its little brother, the Dell Precision WorkStation 410. (For a review of the Precision 410, see "Dell Precision WorkStation 410," September 1998.) The Precision 610 I tested had two 400MHz Xeon Pentium II processors, four DIMM slots that support as much as 2GB of Synchronous DRAM (SDRAM), two 9GB hard disks, an Adaptec ARO-1130CA RAID controller card (which plugs into a proprietary RAIDport III slot built into the motherboard) with a 16MB onboard memory cache, a 24X CD-ROM drive, integrated 16-bit stereo sound, and integrated Ultra 2/Wide SCSI support for data-transfer rates as fast as 80MB per second (MBps). The Precision 610's tool-less case gives you easy access to all these components.
The Precision 610's Xeon processors are Intel's latest innovation. These processors have several advantages over the Precision 410's 400MHz Pentium II Deschutes processors. The Xeon processors are much larger than the Deschutes processors, at 4" * 6" * 2". The Precision 610's Xeon processors access their Level 2 cache at the full speed of the processor (i.e., 400MHz). The Precision 410's Deschutes processors access their Level 2 cache at half the processor's speed. The Xeon processors come with 512KB of Level 2 cache and can accommodate as much as 1MB of Level 2 cache. However, the 1MB of Level 2 cache costs more than twice as much as the 512KB of Level 2 cache. Deschutes processors support only 512KB of Level 2 cache. Both processors run on a 100MHz system bus and use proprietary Intel slot designs: Slot 1 for the Deschutes Pentium II, and Slot 2 for the Xeon Pentium II.
The Xeon processors include a system-management bus--a first for Intel. This feature provides processor information, an electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM), and an onboard thermal sensor that you configure to initiate a shut-down if the system temperature exceeds predetermined parameters. The Precision 610 also has a feature to check for and correct errors that occur between the processor, Level 2 cache, and system bus.
The Precision 610 uses Intergraph's Intense 3D Pro graphics solution. This configuration includes two full-length graphics cards (one Accelerated Graphics Port--AGP--and one PCI) connected by a ribbon cable.
Even with a dual-card graphics solution and the Adaptec RAID controller, the workstation has two open PCI slots and one shared PCI or ISA slot. You also have room for two full-sized external devices and two (thin) internal hard disks for future expansion.
To test the Precision 610's performance, I ran AIM Technology's Workstation Benchmark for Windows NT, using a resolution of 800 * 600 with 16-bit color depth and a Matrox Millennium II 4MB PCI graphics card. The workstation's AIM WNT Peak Performance score was 1225.4, and its Sustained Performance score was 264. The Precision 610's Peak Performance score was 4 percent higher than the Precision 410's score when I reviewed it in September. The Precision 610's Sustained Performance score was the same as the Precision 410's. (For information about AIM Technology's benchmark tests, go to http://www.aim.com.)
To test the Precision 610's 3-D graphics performance, I used three viewsets from the Viewperf benchmark: CDRS, which measures the modeling and rendering abilities used for CAD applications; Data Explorer (DX), which measures scientific data-visualization capabilities; and Lightscape, which tests radiosity visualization, or a system's ability to realistically reproduce light waves. (For more information about the Viewperf benchmark, go to http://www.specbench.org.) The Precision 610 scored 140.023 on the CDRS viewset, 20.883 on the DX viewset, and 2.188 on the Lightscape viewset. These scores are quite respectable.
A Powerful Buy
The Precision 610 is a great machine: It's the fastest workstation I've tested. However, if you want maximum speed from a Xeon system, you'll have to spring for the version with 1MB of Level 2 cache.
|Dell Precision WorkStation 610|
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System Configuration: Two 400MHz Pentium II Xeon processors, 512KB of Level 2 cache, 256MB of Synchronous DRAM, Two 9GB, 10,000rpm hard disks, 24X CD-ROM drive, Ultra2/Wide SCSI support