HP launches high-end workstations

Hewlett-Packard Co. on Tuesday pumped up the graphics and processing power on its line of business workstations, introducing a quad-core desktop the company called the "mother of all workstations."

The new HP XW8600 Workstation will include two quad-core Intel Corp. processors and enhanced graphics with 2-D or 3-D Nvidia Corp. graphics cards carrying memory between 256MB and 512MB, enabling game developers to share 3-D images from different locations, said Jim Zafarana, vice president of marketing at HP, during a company event in San Francisco.

The XW8600 will run Intel quad-core Xeon processors, support up to 128GB of RAM and have storage of up to 5TB on five hard drives, Zafarana said. It will come with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Vista or Red Hat Inc.'s Enterprise Linux operating system.

More customers are asking for the ability to better manage and share graphics remotely, especially for oil exploration and scientific imaging, Zafarana said.

The PCI Express 2.0 standard incorporated in the system enables quicker data transfers and helps the desktops better handle graphics, said Intel vice president Tom Kilroy at the event. Intel's 5400 chip set, on which the system is based, improves I/O bandwidth, boosting graphics performance, Kilroy said.

The desktop can transfer 3-D graphics using Remote Graphics Software, an embedded system originally developed by HP Labs and used by NASA to transfer images from Mars exploration to Earth, Zafarana said.

The company also introduced the HP XW6600 Workstation, which will be equipped with Intel's Xeon quad-core processors. It will support up to 32GB of memory and up to 3TB of storage on three hard drives.

Both workstations will also come with Intel's dual-core processors. The systems support graphics cards, including the 2-D Nvidia Quadro NVS290 graphics card and the 3-D Nvidia Quadro FX370, FX570, FX1700, FX4600 and FX5600 graphics cards.

Both systems will work with multiple monitors, though exact numbers were not available at the time of press. Priced starting at $1,200, both systems will begin shipping in mid-December.

HP is the world's leading PC provider and has increased its lead over Dell in recent quarters. HP shipped 13.1 million PCs worldwide in the third quarter, a 19.6% market share and a 33% year-over-year increase. Dell shipped 10.18 million units, a 3.8% increase over the previous year, according to an IDC study.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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