Sponsor Spotlight: Boosting Performance

November 30th, 2010

New workstation lines arise on a regular basis, offering advances in virtually all aspects of workstation operations. Usually these advances are significant, but HP's new line of workstations, christened The HP Z-Series Workstations, offer Autodesk users some truly dramatic leaps in performance right at the outset and promise even greater things to come later this year.

At first glance

The first thing you notice looking at any of the new Z-Series Workstations is the sleek industrial design with brushed aluminum side panels and built-in handles for ease of movement. But the beauty is more than skin deep. Open the tool-less chassis and the first thing that grabs your attention is the absence of visible cable clutter inside. Modular, direct-connect design eliminates cable clutter. This clever internal design makes for more efficient airflow (and thus lower acoustic noise and more efficient cooling) and perhaps more importantly, simpler maintenance and upgrades. There is another feature here that will grab you, but we’ll get to that later.

Intel QuickPath Technology inside

Common to all Z-Series workstations, Intel QuickPath Technology and Intel QuickPath Interconnect systems harness the power of parallel processing for Autodesk engineers and designers to significantly boost overall system performance. Each processor core features an integrated memory controller and high-speed interconnect, linking processors and other components for dynamically scalable interconnect bandwidth and full utilization of system resources, outstanding memory performance and the utmost in tightly integrated interconnect reliability, availability, and serviceability. The result is a series of workstations that offer unmatched performance, scalability, and energy efficiency at all price-points.

Entry-level performance boost

The HP Z400 Workstation is HP's latest entry-level workstation, but as with all HP workstations, entry-level hardly describes the features and performance offered by this machine. Built around Intel's new X58 Express chipset and Xeon W3500 series of multi-core processors, the HP Z400 can handle tasks that would have stymied high-end workstations of just a year or two ago. Simple stats such as processor speeds up to 3.20 GHz, 8MB cache, 16GB of speedy 1333 MHz memory* and up to two NVIDIA Quadro FX1800 graphics cards, or one NVIDIA Quadro FX4800 graphics card are impressive enough, but that's not reckoning with new Intel Quickpath Technology and its ability to use these resources more efficiently than ever before. Best of all, AutoCAD users will be pleased to find out that the HP Z400 workstation benchmarks at a 52 percent performance increase over the currently shipping HP xw4600 workstation using the Cadalyst benchmark.

Mid-range marvel

The ability to mount two quad-core, Intel 5500 series "Nehalem" processors in its Intel 5520 chipset, dramatically boosts the raw power of the HP Z600 workstation. Again, Intel QuickPath Technology links the processors with all other system resources including up to 24GB* of triple channel 1333 MHz DDR3 high performance memory and massive 8MB cache to push performance to the limit. Two internal and two external drive bays provide up to 4.5TB of storage. Support for up to dual NVIDIA Quadro FX1800 graphics as well as other world-class graphics from ATI and NVIDIA ensure perfect graphics and video performance for your most demanding rendering, modeling, and animations.

Power-users powerhouse

The HP Z800 workstation boosts performance into the stratosphere with the broadest pipelines, blistering processor speeds and up to 192GB* of available three-channel memory for unprecedented large-file performance in the most demanding Autodesk applications. Users running 64-bit versions of today’s powerful engineering applications can experience the efficiency of being able to run multiple, complex animations and models in memory at the same time, without the need to page back and forth to disk. Couple this with up to two separate, but integrated graphics cards and the ability to run up to four full-performance 3D monitors or eight 2D monitors simultaneously and you have a designer's dream machine. With ample internal expansion space (four internal, three external drive bays and six PCIe Gen 2 and Gen 1 slots as well as one PCI slot), the HP Z800 Workstation packs more power in its tool-less case than some servers.

Cutting edge technologies, where cool makes a difference

The HP Z workstations come with many cutting-edge technologies. As a matter of fact, over 20 patents were filed on this design. One of the advancements that wasn't HP's but Intel's is the Intel Turbo Boost technology. This technology allows the processor to run faster that its defined frequency when it has enough power to do so and when the processor is running within its cooling specifications. This means when the enclosure can keep the processor cool enough, you'll likely get a performance boost. This is very helpful for applications that do not utilize all the cores, as these are the ones that are likely to get the biggest boost. Most Autodesk 3D creation applications fall into the category, for instance AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Revit, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Autodesk Map 3D, to name a few. If you need extra processing performance when running key Autodesk applications, you could benefit from the cooling design of the new HP Z Workstation family.

The HP value proposition

One thing that has remained unchanged with the HP Z Series Workstations is the unrivaled quality and support provided by HP in every workstation. HP's long partnership with Autodesk ensures that HP workstations work flawlessly with your most demanding Autodesk applications; and every HP workstation comes with the unique HP Performance Tuning Framework, a powerful utility that allows you to optimize your workstation to your unique needs and simplifies virtually every aspect of maintaining and living with your workstation.

All HP workstations also come with HP's commitment to more responsible environmental stewardship. Eighty-five percent-plus efficient power supplies are standard on all HP workstations and all HP workstations are available in EnergyStar certified configurations. HP is also committed to recycling and reuse of resources throughout the product lifecycle, and 90 percent of the workstations are recyclable by weight.

No matter how you look at it, the new HP Z-Series Workstations represent a leap forward in workstation performance, dramatically expanding the frontiers of productivity and enabling Autodesk users to achieve even greater efficiency and innovation in engineering, architecture, design, and animation.

*Maximum memory capacities assume 64-bit operating systems. Microsoft Windows XP (32-bit) supports 4GB (with Microsoft 32-bit, the amount of usable memory will be dependent upon your system configuration. It may be less than 4GB); 32-bit Linux can support up to 8 GB; expected availability is May 2009.

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