Dell Prepares for the Diverse Future of Workstations

13 Mar, 2014 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Whether customers want to stick with desktop workstations, adopt a mobile machine, or move to a virtualization solution, the hardware developer has an answer ready.

Democratization of Access to Professional Tools

Dell also sees a trend toward democratization of access to professional-quality creation tools. In response to what it calls a “customer imperative” for fast and affordable digital prototyping, the company recently announced that it would sell 3D printers and 3D scanners from Stratasys subsidiary MakerBot. These offerings are relatively inexpensive, starting at $2,199 and $1,399 respectively. “We’re bringing the barriers to entry down,” said Rhodes.

Here, too, virtualization has a role. Ben Cochran, a senior software architect at Autodesk, spoke of the goal to democratize rendering — to make high-end imagery production available to everyone, including users without high-end machines at their disposal. “Virtualization helps bridge that gap,” he noted.

On the workstation side, Rhodes observed that some users whose work requires professional computing power are hindered by their consumer-grade computers; he likened them to a surgeon wielding a steak knife. Dell identified a market of underserved technical users, including engineering students and the lower ranks of engineers in large companies, and determined that what that market needs is a 15" mobile workstation at “the right price point,” said Rhodes.

That vision took shape as the Precision M2800, which will be available this spring, starting at $1,199 — the lowest price available for 15" mobile workstation, according to Dell. The 5.6-lb M2800 is “a true professional-grade mobile workstation,” explained Rhodes; it will be independent software vendor (ISV)-certified for applications including Autodesk Inventor, Revit, and AutoCAD; Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks; and PTC Creo.

The Dell Precision M2800 is a 15" mobile workstation with a starting price of less than $1,200. Images courtesy of Dell. Click to enlarge.

The M2800 also features:

  • Fourth-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors
  • AMD FirePro W4170M graphics with 2 GB of dedicated video memory
  • Up to 16 GB of system memory and 1 TB of storage
  • Support for multiple monitors
  • Compatibility with existing docking solutions
  • Dell Precision Performance Optimizer, an application that automatically tunes settings for particular applications, thereby increasing application performance, explained Alex Shows, a Dell systems engineer. Preconfigured settings are currently available for SolidWorks and CATIA, Creo, Siemens NX, and Autodesk Maya.

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