Like most computer manufacturers, HP refreshes its product lines at least once a year. When it comes to its workstation group, however, the product refresh is a giant two-day bonanza held in Los Angeles. From new workstations to partner demos to touring DreamWorks up in the valley, HP puts on a spectacle that sometimes makes you forget why you're there in the first place.
The 24-Thread Z800 Motherboard
The Z family of workstations has been around for a while now, but the six-core Westmere-based Xeon processors from Intel have not. Jim Zafarana, vice president and general manager of HP's Workstation Business Unit, holds up the dual-socket motherboard available in the flagship Z800 desktop. Two six-core Xeon 5600 CPUs, 24GB of RAM...excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my keyboard.
Intel's Westmere-Based Xeon 5600s
The 5600-series of Xeon processors pack a wallop (our workstation-oriented review is still forthcoming). With up to 24 threads (two processors times six cores times two threads per core via Hyper-Threading), 12MB of shared L3 cache (up from 8MB in the Xeon 5500-series), and new security features like AES-NI, this newest generation of Xeon promises to deliver notable performance improvements in threaded applications.
Laptop Love: EliteBook 8740w
Desktop workstations are great, but what about the mobile space? HP is addressing the processional space with a brand new EliteBook 8740w. Armed with a 30-bit DreamColor screen, ample RAM, a smattering of workstation-class GPU options, and your choice of Core i7/i5 CPUs (in addition to USB 3.0 support), the 8740w looks to sport the capabilities of a powerful desktop in a mobile form factor.
What About Graphics?
Speaking of GPU selection, these are the options HP is making available on its 8740w. Mobile professionals with any budget should be able to find a solution that fits their needs given such a well-populated stack (this is actually fairly atypical in the mobile space, where thermal constraints often limit the GPUs that'll work in a given chassis).
HP Z200: Compact Workstation Goodness
Time to get up close and personal with the new workstations. The Z200 was definitely one of the most visually-appealing offerings on display, with its small form factor, compact case design, and low starting price (under $750).
HP Z200: Open Sesame
Here, the Z200 spills its guts. The small form factor Z200 has some notable design features, like the optical drive and power supply peeling away from the small box's internals, facilitating easier access to the other components housed inside.
HP Z600: Working...In 3D!
The Z600 finds itself in the middle of the HP workstation pack, offering options found in the lower-end Z200 and Z400, and the flagship Z800. HP decided to pair one with a 120 Hz monitor and Nvidia's GeForce 3D Vision kit. The How To Train Your Dragon 3D trailer being shown popped off the screen, literally.
Now we're back to the Z800. But this model comes with an extra surprise. For an additional few hundred dollars, HP will equip your Z800 with liquid cooling. The radiator, on the back of the tower, doesn't look particularly large, and both CPUs are covered with cylinder-shaped water blocks. High-end computing at low temps and near-silence "sounds" good to me!
Taking A Closer Look...
Taking a closer look at the liquid-cooled Z800, we see the water blocks, as well as fan,s for the RAM located up top.
HP Z800 On Real-Time Ray Tracing
Another Z800 system was taking care of some real-time ray tracing demos. Ray tracing deals with working out how light is affected in a virtual environment, like bouncing off the mirrors of a brightly-painted supercar, and is very CPU-intensive. Notice the Task Manager opened up top, and the 24 threads being monitored, awesome!