GamesBeat

Supermicro talks multi-purpose workstations for the power gamer (interview)

Above: League of Legends gameplay.

Image Credit: Riot Games

On Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we met with computer manufacturer Supermicro’s technical marketing manager, Bjoern Metzdorf. Metzdorf was accompanied by professional gamer Carlos Rodriguez, as they discussed why Supermicro’s current lineup of traditionally non-gaming workstations have all the power and affordability a gamer could want.

In particular, the duo cited the multi-tasking capabilities (running a game, capturing it, streaming it live across the Web, and a number of processor-intensive communication applications all running in tandem). Being able to play a game fluidly, especially where moment-to-moment actions mean the difference between winning or lose, while also running a variety of miscellaneous programs, is something will definitely appeal to even non-professional gamers. Here’s a transcript of our interview.

GamesBeat: What is it about Supermicro’s computers? What are you doing differently than other companies?

Bjoern Metzdorf: Well, Supermicro is a top-tier server manufacturer. We’re having a range of products in the workstation space as well. What we’ve done is we’ve taken the server technology and quality down to the workstation level. Meaning, we have the best components on the motherboards, the best components on the chassis, the best available power supplies. We’re using Japanese capacitors instead of cheaper ones, we have a very strong focus on quality and performance.

It all comes down to this. If you’re playing a high-resolution game on the same machine while encoding your whole desktop in HD quality, sometimes even playing an HD video at the same time, so you have to decode and encode and have your game running and so on, that requires a tremendous amount of CPU power. Nowadays people like Ocelote are able to have their own TV studio at home, they need HD webcams, they need a powerful PC, a one-stop solution for their video production environment, you need beefy machines for that. Our machines are designed to run 24/7… Basically it’s server technology put into a desktop. They’re designed to run 24/7, they’re certified for office, business use, it’s a professional workstation.

We want to show, here at CES, that a professional workstation, ranging from uniprocessor to multi-processor to multi-GPU solutions, can accommodate professional gaming as well. In Carlos’s case, he’s not only playing games, but he’s having a very popular channel on the internet as well. He’s actually working on that machine. He’s a professional gamer playing and live-streaming from the same machine.

GamesBeat: Carlos was also mentioning that there’s a lot of processor power going into it, but for a smaller price. How do you manage that?

Metzdorf: Well, we have a very cost-effective organization, we have a very cost-effective solution range. This can be seen in the server space as well, so everyone that’s interested in servers normally checks out the top-tier companies, and we’re one of those top-tier companies. We’re the fastest company for time to market. We have the newest features, always, ahead of our competition. It’s a very good mix, people can decide what they want. We’re just used, for 18 years now, 19 years now, to do that stuff. Those products.

GamesBeat: So would you recommend a Supermicro computer over something like an Alienware, or similar gaming-focused rig?

Carlos Rodriguez: I tested Alienware, and I will, ah, tell you… I had an Alienware before, for…

Metzdorf: The thing is, we don’t… We are endorsing our professional workstations. We’re not selling gaming PCs directly, we have a very large channel-based and reseller-based distribution. But we just want to show that it’s not only conservative, professional use that our machines can accommodate, but also fun and gaming. That’s what we want to show.

GamesBeat: Carlos, can you talk about why you partnered up with Supermicro, what you’re representing?

Rodriguez: The thing is, at home I’ve got a pretty good machine to stream. It’s a badass machine, honestly. But I feel like I’m lagging sometimes, even with that. The streaming, plus LoL at the maximum resolution, streaming HD and stuff, it makes the game choppy sometimes. I’m a pro player, I cannot play like that. I can’t play choppy. So I was talking with them, kind of casually, but it ended up with… Is Supermicro capable of making my gameplay, when I’m streaming, not choppy at all? Are you able to make me play without any single problem? They said yes. So I’m here to test it. I didn’t know how it was going to go, honestly, but it went pretty well, I have to say.

GamesBeat: What are the most processor-intensive programs that are all running at once? You have League of Legends, your streaming, what are the main programs you have running all at once?

Rodriguez: You have to keep in mind that it’s not only streaming, it’s also talking with the fans and stuff, so you need IRC, IRC eats a lot. You need web-based stuff like Twitter, Facebook and stuff. You need a lot of media open already, like, “Okay guys, I’m going to upload this video,” and you shoot it into the stream. While you’re in the game, the game is open. You have to have so many things open. And you need the game to not be choppy at the same time. You’re a pro player, you don’t want to lag in-game. You’re not supposed to lag in-game. And either you stop the streaming, something that isn’t any fun at all, or you get a good machine. A supercomputer, like I say. My fear was, maybe this is going to be hell of expensive. I don’t know how they do it, I don’t know anything about electronics, but the PC I was playing with is actually way less expensive than the PC I’ve got at home. For some strange reason, I can’t explain it to you, but it goes like two times better, three times better. The game didn’t go choppy at any time. And I tested all the games, not only League of Legends, I tested… You know Crysis 2? I tested Crysis 2 streaming it in HD, I can’t do that at home. It’s crazy.

For more from Rodriguez, check out our interview from earlier today on why League of Legends will remain the undefeated king of the battle arena.


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