Last year I was invited out to LA to take part in the unveiling of the HP DreamColor LP2480zx LCD display. This year HP invited me out to LA again, but this time HP showed off a new line of workstations. Appropriately named the Z line, the Z800, Z600, and Z400 are all set to become available on March 30th.
The event was spread out over two days, and was filled with presentations by HP, their customers, and partners, a movie, and a tour. The first day we went over to the BMW design works facility where we got our first look at the new workstations. At first the workstations were covered up by some black cloth, but it didn’t take long for them to remove the covers so we could get a look at the outside. However, we had to wait for a much longer time before they showed us what the inside looked like. Fortunately, it was worth the wait.
The specs for the new Z800 are really impressive.
- Processor: up to Intel Xeon processor1,2 W55803, 3.20 GHz, 8 MB cache, 1333 MHz memory, Quad-Core
- Chipset: Intel® 5520 (Dual)
- Memory: 12 DIMM slots, up to 192 GB, 6-channel DDR3 1333 MHz, 3 channels per CPU
- Hard Drives: Up to (5) 3.5-inch 15K rpm SAS drive
- Power Supply: 850-Watt 85% efficient power supply or 1110-Watt 89% efficient
Here is a short video where they talk about the features that make up the Z800. Please forgive my amiture video, I was trying to take pictures with my camera at the same time.
They focused on the inside of the Z800 because it is the most impressive. BMW played a big role in the design of both the inside and outside of the Z800 workstation and it shows. I think we can all agree that the outside looks great; however, I was much more interested in the inside. Inside the Z800 everything has been improved and redesigned. The most impressive redesign is the power supply unit (PSU). This new PSU in the Z800 solves many problems that old power supplies caused. The first is that the new PSU does not have any wires. This alone is huge and makes replacing the PSU a much easier task. In addition, it has a built-in self-test, just take it out, and plug it in. If the green light on the PSU turns on, it is good. The next innovation on the PSU is that it spans the full length of the case. This is done so that it can get its own supply of fresh cool air, instead of hot case air. This will help to extend the life of the PSU and help it run quieter. It is so cool that I hope it will be used in desktop PCs as well.
Another improvement in the Z800 workstation is the removal of many of the cables that normally get in the way. The only cables that you are going to see when you open up the Z800 is a single power cable that runs down the middle of the memory cards, and a couple by the hard drives, which are used by the graphics cards. All the rest of the cables are run behind the motherboard, so they are not seen.
Here is a video of the description of the inside of the Z800. As you watch the video I think you will agree that the design is really great.
They also showed off a new collaboration tool called SkyRoom, this is the baby brother to the Halo system, and is for those of us that cannot afford the full Halo system. With SkyRoom and a standard network connection it is possible to see real time video and also share programs from a desktop. When was the last time you could watch a movie over a remote desktop connection? This software does not currently have a release date, but SkyRoom will give all the other collaboration tools a run for their money when it is finally released.
Here is a video of the SkyRoom demo.
Next, we took a tour of the BMW facility.
Next, we all moved on to DreamWorks for a talk about their use for these servers and also to learn about their new 3D technology, which is used in the movie Monsters vs Aliens. We had a special visit from Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation.
Here is a short video of Jeffrey Katzenberg welcoming us to DreamWorks.
Next we talked with several of DreamWorks top employees about the special effects and 3D. After that we actually got to see the movie, in 3D, and it is impressive. In fact, the 3D was more impressive than the actual movie. It almost seemed like the 3D was given more attention than the story.
On the second day we had the opportunity to listen to many more HP customers and how they are using the new Z line of workstations. Many of them had benchmarked them and found them to be as much as 500x faster than their current systems. These customers included Colorado State University, Oil and gas companies, F1 racing teams, and many more.
Overall I am very impressed with the new workstation. I should be getting one for a review in the next couple weeks. Check back for a full hands on review.