Game developers prefer to use the video cards their customers use, but can benefit from the horsepower in engineering workstations.
In an age of fragmenting platforms, the winners are the companies who understand their customers, can find them, and can sell them what they want. This is true even in the world of workstations, which might seem to be fairly standardized. Game developers prefer to use systems with high-end enthusiast graphics boards rather than workstation graphics.
This has been a challenge for HP and its new-ish all-in-one Z1 workstations because the tightly packed chassis takes a custom graphics board based on a mobile semiconductor, and because most workstations use workstation graphics, those boards have been Nvidia Quadro boards.
Last week at the Game Developers Conference HP introduced new HP Z workstations in both the Z tower model and the Z1; they’ll be packing custom GeForce 2 graphics designed for HP by PNY for the game developer community.
The deal is part of a agreement between integrator HP and ALT, which sells to the game development community, Autodesk, Epic Games, and PNY. ALT’s systems will be built with optimizations for Autodesk and Unreal Engine users. The optimizations and new boards will be available for the 27-inch HP Z1, the HP Z820, and the Z620. ALT will work with customers to create a custom system for their workflow.
ALT, based in Los Angeles, has been working with HP and Autodesk for some time before, building systems for the movie and TV industry. ALT has been providing hardware for Autodesk’s digital entertainment creation products, putting together systems with Maya, Max, and MotionBuilder and also building hosts for the company’s high-end compositing and finishing tools Flame and Flare. Now they will be adding the game-oriented tools Beast, Navigation, HumanIK, and Scaleform. Developers can also add Epic’s Unreal development system.
HP product manager Jeff Wood was at GDC, at Autodesk’s open house party, and he told us HP is really interested in addressing the game developer market on their own terms. “They’re all about performance,” he said by way of explanation for the game developers’ preference for GeForce boards over Quadros. Are they cost-sensitive? “Not at all,” Wood said, but he added that game developers are do-it-yourself types who are closely aligned with their customers. The fact that their high-end enthusiasts are going to gravitate to the same GeForce boards in the Z systems is a plus.
During GDC and continuing through April, ALT is offering special pricing on the new systems. The accompanying table gives an idea of the products and configurations, but being workstations, there are plenty of options in terms of memory, hard drives, flash drives, etc.
Customers can also add the HP 27- inch monitor and Autodesk Entertainment Suite for an $11,995 turnkey package.