Workstations

HP Refreshes Z Workstation Line with Three Upgraded Models

6 Mar, 2012 By: Cadalyst Staff

The HP Z420, Z620, and Z820 make their debut, offering new multicore options and increased expandability.


Today, Hewlett-Packard introduced three new models in its HP Z workstation line: the Z420, Z620, and Z820. The new workstations feature Intel Xeon E5-1600 and E5-2600 processors, offer up to 512 GB of DDR3 memory, and support multithreaded workstation applications. They also feature third-generation PCI Express technology. During an HP media preview event, Jeff Wood, the company's vice-president of worldwide marketing, Commercial Solutions, described the release as "a compelling refresh to our product offering."

A Growing Family


HP launched the Z family in 2009 with its Z400, Z600, and Z800 workstations, adding the smaller Z200 and Z210 models in subsequent years, and the all-in-one Z1 last month. As the line has evolved, HP has kept its focus on professional users in CAD and other compute-intensive markets. "A workstation customer is doing mission-critical work ... they're designing planes, trains, and automobiles," said Jim Zafarana, vice-president and general manager, Commercial Solutions.

HP Z420. Designed to meet mainstream computing and visualization needs for users working in CAD, architecture, video editing, and photography, this upgraded version of the Z400 includes up to eight processing cores using processors from the Intel Xeon E5-1600 and E5-2600 families, up to 64 GB of ECC (error-correcting code) memory, up to 11 TB of high-speed storage, and up to NVIDIA Quadro 5000 or dual NVIDIA Quadro 2000 graphics cards.

The 400-level workstation is the least expensive of the three — and has been the best seller in the past, according to Josh Peterson, director of worldwide product marketing, Commercial Solutions. With its price point and feature set, "the Z420 fits the need for a lot of our customers," including AEC and product design professionals, said Peterson.

The Z420 features a revamped industrial design, including a new chassis that's easier to open than the Z400, Peterson noted. It increases memory support from 1300 MHz to 1600 MHz, sports USB 3 ports in the front and back, and has an additional power button on the back for use in rack environments.

HP Z620.
The mid-range model is intended for customers in a variety of markets, including architecture and animation. "[The Z620] was positioned squarely in the financial trade market, and has expanded now into high-end CAD," noted Zafarana.

The Z620 is ideal for users who have limited space, but need multicore processing, said Mike Diehl, product manager, Personal Workstations. "Analysis really strains memory and processing cores, so you want lots of memory and processing cores [for that type of work]," said Diehl. He also noted that the Z620 is well suited to geospatial applications, as it has the memory capacity needed to store the large models used in remote sensing and photogrammetry workflows.


The HP Z620 workstation, pictured running Autodesk Moldflow injection-molding simulation software, is well suited to analysis tasks. Image courtesy of HP.


The Z620 supports both single- and dual-socket processors, up to 16 processing cores, up to 96 GB of ECC memory, up to 11 TB of high-speed storage, and up to NVIDIA Quadro 6000 or dual NVIDIA Quadro 5000 graphics cards.

HP Z820. The most expensive and most capable of the three new models, the Z820 is "focused for the ultimate power user," said Zafarana. That definition includes customers in oil and gas, MCAD, MCAE, medical, and other visualization-intensive jobs.


The Z820 features an integrated handle on the front for easier carrying (left), and manual releases inside for tool-free component access (marked in green; right). Images courtesy of HP.


The Z820 provides up to 16 processing cores, up to 512 GB of ECC memory, up to 14 TB of high-speed storage, and up to dual NVIDIA Quadro 6000 graphics. The Z620 and Z820 are both rack-mountable and have a liquid-cooling option.

The Power of Processors


The Intel Xeon E5-2600–series processors, available in all three of the new models, allow for up to 16 physical cores in a single system and let 32 threads run at one time when using two processors, each with eight cores and Intel Hyper-Threading Technology enabled. The new processors include Intel vPro Technology, integrated memory controllers, and Intel Turbo Boost Technology.

According to Boyd Davis, vice-president of Intel's Architecture Group, the new Intel Xeon processor families have integrated I/O (input/output), reducing unnecessary steps that slow down I/O traffic, and the third-generation PCI Express technology doubles bandwidth over the previous generation. "When you add it all up, the throughput of the platform is dramatically higher," he said.

Davis explained that ultimately, faster processors give users time for more design work. "The goal is to provide users with more resources to attempt more new ideas."

Environmental and Economic Considerations


The new HP Z workstations include 90% efficient power supplies, which reduce both overall energy use and the amount of heat released. The HP Z line is EPEAT Gold–registered and offers ENERGY STAR–qualified configurations. All HP Z workstations offer BFR/PVC-free configurations and are more than 90% recyclable by weight.

The HP Z420, Z620, and Z820 are expected to be available worldwide beginning in April. Estimated U.S. pricing starts at $1,169 for the Z420, $1,649 for the Z620, and $2,299 for the Z820.


About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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