HP's Revamped Z Workstation Family Targets Power-Hungry Professionals

10 Sep, 2014 By: Robert Green

The latest lineup of desktop and mobile models emphasizes horsepower for design simulation, engineering analysis, and other demanding tasks.

Last week, Hewlett-Packard hosted a preview event for the new Z series workstations at the company’s R&D facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. Journalists were shown the new line of desktop and mobile workstations as well as some new technology concepts, and toured the impressive facilities used to create those same workstations.

HP employees and customers presented feature descriptions and usage scenarios for a variety of high-demand environments, from entertainment to digital dentistry to analysis support. The theme for the event was summarized by Jim Zafarana, vice-president and general manager of Commercial Solutions, when he made the following statement during his keynote address: “Our unwavering commitment to professional customers, investments in technology, and HP engineering Z DNA are the secret sauce that have led to exceeding the needs of the world’s most demanding customers.”

Jim Zafarana showcased the new Z desktop and ZBook mobile workstations.

It was clear that these new releases target at high-end users with massive data sets that need heavy-duty workstation power. There was no talk about cutting prices, competing with tablet-type devices, or cloud-based usage scenarios. No, these are products for the most demanding workstation users, who are more concerned with specs and horsepower and getting the job done faster. 

My impression is that HP has doubled down on the concept that decision makers in certain lines of work — including oil and gas exploration, design simulation, and engineering analysis — are willing to pay for the performance needed to keep their highly paid employees running efficiently, and the company is pushing aggressively to serve those markets. 

The Revamped Z Workstation Lineup

The new Z workstation lineup includes updated 15" and 17" ZBook mobile workstations, three enhanced Z desktop workstations, and continued availability of the all-in-one Z1 workstation and Z displays.

The new product show-and-tell session focused on the Z440, Z640, and Z840 workstations (at far left) and updated mobile workstations (at center). 

The big news across all the new computing devices is support for new Intel processors, updated graphics boards from partners AMD and NVIDIA, native Thunderbolt 2.0 support for high-bandwidth peripheral support, and the new PCIe Z solid-state drive.  The emphasis was on speed — computational, graphics, and solid-state disk speed — for a more balanced, higher-throughput computing environment.

ZBook Generation 2 Mobile Workstations

Recently, HP has focused on mobile workstations quite a bit, and company representatives touted great sales figures for these machines from the past year. It was clear they wanted to continue the narrative of providing big performance in a laptop bag this year with the new Generation 2 (dubbed G2) models.

The ZBook 15 G2 (left) and ZBook 17 G2 (right) retain the thin, tough, and grippable form factor of last year’s ZBooks, but with more performance tucked into the chassis.

The new HP ZBook mobile workstations look like their predecessors, yet pack more memory and processing power into the same package. Both support the new Intel Core i7 quad-core processors on the Intel QM87 mobile chip set with as much as 32 GB of DDR3L 1600-MHz memory. Graphics options extend up to the NVIDIA K5100M mobile GPU with 8 GB of GDDR5 RAM, and disk options include the 256-GB PCIe HP Z Turbo Drive solid-state disk. Combined with the Thunderbolt 2 external device interface, the new G2 workstations provide a high-speed workstation solution in a portable form factor.

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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