Pictures: Inside Lenovo's new Beijing campus
A 'Silicon Valley environment'
Lenovo's new Beijing HQ, which launched on 22 October 2018, is located in the Zhongguancun Software Park northwest of the Chinese capital. Here, the company aims to create a "Silicon Valley style working environment" for its employees -- over 10,000 of them.
In the final week of November, Lenovo hosted 20 tech and business journalists from across EMEA, touring the new campus, giving demos and presentations, and conducting a Q&A session with CEO Yang Yuanqing. Here's a pictorial summary of the first day's proceedings.
Facts and figures
Lenovo's campus, shown in this architectural model, was designed by US firm RTKL and comprises east and west zones, linked by glass corridors. The 13-hectare site is a low-rise development thanks to the nearby presence of a cluster of satellite dishes, whose signals could not be interfered with. According to Lenovo's spokesperson, plans are afoot to move the dishes to a more remote location, allowing the company to expand its HQ beyond six floors in due course.
The building meets US Green Building criteria and the Chinese GBL 3-Star, with solar power and collector systems on the roof for indoor lighting and water heating. Smart overhead lights with infrared sensors in office areas automatically turn off when employees leave the office.
A great wall
This six-storey climbing wall is a prominent feature of the HQ's lobby. We saw numerous Lenovo employees using it, but there were no volunteers from the ranks of the visiting press.
Lenovo has a 26-year track record in x86 servers, and boosted its position in this market with the 2014 purchase of IBM's x86 server business. In Lenovo's latest quarterly results (fiscal Q2 2018), the Data Center Group reported a fifth consecutive quarter of profit growth and a 58 percent year-on-year increase in revenue, to $1.5 billion. This makes it the fastest-growing of the top three x86 server vendors, says Lenovo (quoting IDC figures).
ThinkSystem SR950 Server
Shown here is the ThinkSystem SR950 Server, which is designed for mission-critical workloads like in-memory databases, large transaction databases, batch and real-time analytics, ERP, CRM and virtualised server workloads. Each system has two removable compute trays, each tray containing up to four Intel Xeon Scalable processors, 48 DIMMs, 12 hard drives, one RAID system and six hot-swap fans.
Rack Switch and ThinkSystem SR650 Server
Left: Lenovo's Rack Switch helps to consolidate server and storage networks into a single fabric, making it a good choice for virtualisation, cloud and enterprise workload solutions.
Right: The ThinkSystem SR650 is a powerful and versatile 2U2P rack server design with up to 24 drive bays. It offers the performance and reliability for business-critical workloads in medium to large enterprises, government and education.
Direct Water Cooled Server
Lenovo's direct water-cooling for its hyperscale servers covers the entire system rather than just the CPU and memory. Water enters the system at 50 degrees Celsius and exits at around 60 degrees, to be used for room heating. Water cooling eliminates power that's drawn by cooling fans in the chassis and greatly reduces the required air movement in the server room, which also saves power. Savings of up to 40 percent are possible in the data centre due to the reduced need for air conditioning, says Lenovo.
Innovation Technology Experience Center
Lenovo's Innovation Technology Experience Center sits within a large atrium space. Here we find PCs and smart devices, gaming, AR and VR kit, and healthcare solutions.
SmartVest is a 12-lead ECG using 10 flexible textile electrodes. Features include a 360-degree heart scan, 24-hour continuous monitoring and a mobile app that enables the wearer to check real-time health information. The app also syncs data to the cloud, for remote diagnosis by doctors. SmartVest can identify abnormalities such as tachycardia or atrial fibrillation, while athletes can use it to get accurate real-time heart rate and heart rate variability analysis.
Lenovo's E-Health system is currently focused on liver tumour analysis, integrating the professional expertise of medical experts with advanced machine-learning algorithms. Liver cancer is a big problem in China: it's the third leading cause of death, with more than 50 percent of the world's new liver cancer cases occurring in China every year.
E-Health performs four main functions: tumour detection and classification on CT images; tumour annotation; 3D model display with tumour information; and auto-generation of diagnosis reports.
By analysing huge amounts of cancer screening data, E-Health aims to reduce the misdiagnosis rate of cancer and contribute to early-stage cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Currently a pilot project, Lenovo's HoloTable is a gesture-driven, interactive holographic display. Here we see the process of CT reconstruction of a liver through a 3D hologram to help doctors plan surgeries.
Doctors can use a touch screen to load patients' CT images, perform automatic liver segmentation and create 3D models. Doctors can then observe the liver from multiple angles in the holographic space, and rotate, zoom in/out, highlight and reset the model.
Augmented Reality: daystAR
Launched at at Lenovo Tech World 2018, the daystAR platform and stARkit SDK aims to encourage developers to create applications that help commercial customers use AR smart glasses to improve business processes. In this demo, it's being used for aircraft engine maintenance. Other applications include smart manufacturing and education.
Second-generation Yoga Book
Lenovo's original 10.1-inch Yoga Book drew praise for its innovative combination of a virtual keyboard and a drawing surface in place of a traditional keyboard. The Yoga Book 2 (a.k.a. C930) continues the innovation, combining a conventional 10.8-inch IPS display with a secondary E Ink touchscreen with pen support. The keyboard, which can be reconfigured to different national layouts, delivers auditory and haptic feedback; when you're not typing, you can use the secondary screen for drawing or as an e-reader.
Another intriguing feature is the way you open this ultra-thin (9.9mm) laptop: knock twice on the lid, and the clamshell pops open.
Unusual PC designs
The gaming section of the Innovation Technology Experience Center showed off some interesting designs.
Q&A with Lenovo's CEO
During a 45-minute Q&A session with EMEA tech and business journalists, Lenovo's CEO Yang Yuanqing (generally known as 'YY' within the company) addressed a range of issues.
Lenovo has about 9,000 square metres of labs in its Beijing campus, and 20 labs in total across different locations in China. The EMEA journalists were shown the acoustic, safety and EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) labs.
In the acoustic lab, Lenovo devices are tested to ensure they don't emit distracting levels of noise in operation.
This machine tests the resilience of computers -- and packaging -- under different levels of temperature and humidity.
The EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) lab looks like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but is actually used to ensure that Lenovo devices don't interfere with your mobile phone signal, among other things.
PC Design Lab
We weren't allowed to take photographs on the floor of the PC Design Lab, where the next generation (or two) of products are gestating. With journalists safely corralled in a meeting room, staff explained the creative processes behind iconic Lenovo designs such as the 'watchband' hinge seen on various Yoga hybrid laptops.
For all its Silicon Valley gloss, Lenovo's campus finds room for ancillary activities such as this informal market on the ground floor.
As well as several canteens, the new Beijing campus includes a laundry room, gym, child care centre and other living facilities.