HP's next-generation workstations based on Intel Nehalem Xeon 5500 processors will offer huge performance and productivity improvements, according to customers who have been carrying out early tests of the new models.
HP unveiled its Z Workstation series today, incorporating the low-end Z400, mid-range Z600 and high-end Z800. All three are touted as offering performance and energy efficiency improvements.
Various HP workstation customers were present at a launch event in Los Angeles last week, and offered positive feedback on the new machines.
Rocket manufacturer SpaceX uses HP workstations in its vehicle design process. In its tests, the firm found the Z series to be 45 per cent faster than previous models, and definitely plans to replace its current HP xw8600 workstations with the new machines.
Branden Spikes, SpaceX chief information officer, revealed that adding a solid state drive (SSD) to the workstation offered an additional five per cent performance improvement.
"It was twice as fast as the fastest magnetic disks for features such as read and write times, and it makes the machine much quieter," he added. "The CPU benchmarks were also improved by using SSDs."
Based on a real-life example, Spikes demonstrated that using the new Z800 could reduce the time taken to carry out engineering tasks by around 40 per cent. A task that took SpaceX engineers 15 minutes and 32 seconds using the current HP xw8600 workstation was reduced to 10 minutes and 28 minutes using a SAS-based Z800. Add an SSD and the time was reduced to nine minutes and eight seconds.
Renault F1 is also planning to upgrade to the Z series line after being impressed by initial tests. Chief information officer Guillaume Jacquemin said that the motor racing firm will start the process of moving over in the next few months.
"We've seen a real gain in terms of throughput, something like 10 to 15 per cent," Jacquemin said. "If our engineers are more productive ... we see a direct effect on the performance of our cars."
Engineers at Renault F1 have two workstations, one running Windows and one with Linux, so the workplace can get noisy, Jacquemin pointed out. "We believe with this improvement to the acoustics, it's going to be less noisy in our office and less stressful for the guys, and will benefit innovation," he added.
As an alternative way to reduce noise levels, Renault F1 could benefit from new virtualisation technology that has been developed for the Z series workstations by oil and gas technology solutions specialist Schlumberger.
Jim Zafarana, vice president of HP's Workstation Global Business Unit, said that Schlumberger is using Parallels-based virtualisation technology to let customers run Windows and Linux on one system, instead of having to run two separate workstations.
"The new Z800 can have two graphics cards, each dedicated to a Windows or Linux operating system," he added. "Large companies will give their engineers two workstations, as they do some work in Linux and some in Windows. Now they can have just one machine."
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