HP this week introduced new workstation products that include its first small form factor workstation, six-core CPU updates to its market-leading line of workstations, and a mobile workstation with DreamColor display technology.
March 26, 2010—At a two-day launch gala for the press in Hollywood this week, HP and partner Intel presented a vision of their technologies as agent of change, by providing the tools for a communications revolution in 3D.
“There is huge opportunity for growth in this industry,” says Intel’s Tony Neal-Graves, general manager of the workstation group. “There is a sense
of urgency in the marketplace. The next four to five years will see a tremendous increase in the number of workstations.”
Intel and HP see three segments to the workstation market in the next few years, and Intel is creating CPUs to match. It currently targets the entry-level market with the Xeon 3400 and Core i5 CPUs, using built-in Intel graphics. A mid-range workstation would be equipped with a single Intel Xeon 3600 series CPU, while the top end of the market—what Neal-Graves called the “expert workbench segment”—will want dual Xeon 5600 CPUs for ultimate workstation performance.
New Small Form Factor Workstation
While those who want ultimate performance will be looking at the new six-core upgrades to the Z400/600/800 workstations, the most interesting product of this week’s introduction was the HP Z200 SFF (Small Form Factor). In a box that can be lifted in one hand like a notebook, the Z200 SFF offers an interesting blend of power, size, and affordability. “We heard from health care that they wanted a workstation that would fit on a crash cart” one HP executive told me. “That was part of the inspiration for this product.”
The HP Z200 SFF starting price ($749) rivals traditional desktop computers, and arrives in a space-saving design almost two-thirds smaller than the existing Z200 mini-tower workstation. The Z200 SFF offers dual-core processor options based on the new Intel Core i3 and i5 series, as well as quad-core processor options based on the enterprise-class Intel Xeon 3400 series. The more powerful quad-core CPUs are too large for the case, and are not offered in the Z200 SFF.
The HP Z200 SFF supports up to 16 gigabytes (GB) of ECC memory and up to 2 terabytes (TB) of storage. It is available with a variety of graphics options
from Intel, NVIDIA and AMD/ATI. The case is a tool-less chassis with convenient USB ports located on the front of the system and a FireWire 1394a card option. The power supply is rated 89% efficient, allowing for ENERGY STAR 5.0 qualified configurations.
EliteBook Mobile Workstation
Dressed in a gunmetal anodized aluminium finish, the HP EliteBook 8740w Mobile Workstation is HP‘s most powerful mobile workstation to date. Industrial designers will be drooling over its built-in HP DreamColor display, previously only available on the desk-bound HP DreamColor LP2480 Professional Display.
The EliteBook 8740w has a 17-inch diagonal display, a range of Intel processors including Core i7 Extreme Edition, and support for up to 16 GB of memory. Able to display more than 1 billion active colors—64 times the capabilities of a traditional display—the 8740w utilizes a 30-bit notebook LCD panel. A standalone DreamColor monitor sells for $2,000, while the EliteBook with DreamColor also sells for $2,000; it’s like buying a DreamColor monitor and getting a mobile workstation thrown in for free.
Graphics card options include the ATI FirePro M7820 with 1 GB of GDDR5 video memory or the NVIDIA Quadro FX 2800M or NVIDIA Quadro FX 3800M, both with 1 GB GDDR3 video memory. The ATI FirePro option allows for DirectX 11 and multi-display support.
Six-Core Xeon CPUs
HP’s Z Series workstations now offer the option of Intel’s new six-core Xeon 5600 series. A dual installation provides the possibility of 12 cores running up to 24 threads, with Hyper-Threading turned on. Both the Xeon 5500 and 5600 series processors support up to 12 processing cores, up to 192 GB of ECC memory, up to 10 terabytes of high-speed storage and single or dual NVIDIA Quadro FX 5800 graphics.
The HP Z400, Z600 and Z800 are shipping. U.S. pricing starts at $929 for the HP Z400 Workstation, $1,579 for the HP Z600 Workstation, and $1,799 for the HP Z800 Workstation. The HP EliteBook 8740w is expected to be available worldwide starting in April. U.S. pricing starts at $1,999.
The Final Analysis
In the early years of Win-Tel workstations, the big names were Intergraph, IBM and Dell; HP and the yet-to-be-assimilated Compaq were a distant fourth and fifth. In recent years HP has spent millions in R&D to make their workstation division second to none in units, a goal they achieved during 2009.
Today HP has the widest range of workstation on the market. There is a model for every level of professional user, with high standardization from model to model and an attention to product detail that is like nothing we’ve seen since Sun and SGI were major workstation providers. Swapping out components in the Z Series is as close to plug-and-play as you can get. §