Usually, workstations are big and brutish. Their users run technical, scientific and engineering workloads that need a lot of memory, disk and performance. This is not a market that usually sells on looks.
But Hewlett-Packard is betting that workstation users are just like everyone else and want thin and light systems.
In an expansion and refresh of its Z workstation line, HP has included a ZBook that's 14 inches and is thin enough to meet the ultrabook criteria set by Intel. The ZBook 14 weighs 3.57 pounds, offers up to 1TB of storage and as much as 16GB of memory.
All of HP's laptop workstations use the Haswell chip architecture. The 14-in. system has an AMD FirePro graphics processor, while larger systems use Nvidia graphics.
The 15- and 17-in models support Thunderbolt connectivity technology, which can transfer data at a speed of 10Gbps.
HP has been selling a 14-in. workstation for nearly four years, and smaller systems are often used as companions to standard power stations for people who are doing design on the road, said Jeff Wood, vice president of worldwide product management for the Commercial Solutions business unit.
According to IDC, HP has about half of the workstation market and competes with Dell, Lenovo, NEC and Fujitsu.
IDC said that as the PC market migrates to more portable devices, some high-end PC users are now moving to more capable workstations. HP sees that trend as well, and believes business analysts, for instance, are becoming more interested in workstations for their work.
HP's Z Desktop Workstations have also been updated. They will run Xeon Ivy Bridge processors, include Thunderbolt ports, support up to 24 cores, and offer up to 15TB of storage.
The ZBook 14 will be released next month; pricing was not available. The 17-in. model starts at $1,999, with the 15-in. version starting at $1,899.
Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.