HP's New Z: ZBook Mobile Workstation
COW Library : What Computer Should I Buy? : Debra Kaufman : HP's New Z: ZBook Mobile Workstation
HP expanded its Z professional workstations and displays, and unveiled three new Z Book Mobile Workstations, including the HP ZBook 14, which the company calls "the world's first workstation Ultrabook," as well as a line of workstations with Intel's new Ivy Bridge Xeon processor and Thunderbolt technology for high-speed data transfer. With Thunderbolt, HP Z Mobile and Desktop Workstations can achieve high-speed data transmission between Z Workstations, displays and peripherals. HP also revealed two new HP Z Displays.
"We're the only workstation vendor that's thrived from Linux to open standard," said Jim Zafarana, HP Vice President/General Manager, Commercial Solutions Business Unit. "Customers are voting with their wallets, and HP is #1 in desktop and mobile workstations in every region and worldwide." Bolstering this claim, industry research firm IDC reported that HP was the global share leader during the second quarter of 2013. As of Q2 2013, said IDC's Workstation Tracker, HP posts a 42.5 percent share of the mobile workstation category worldwide, and a 48.4 share in the desktop workstation category.
HP'S NEW ZBOOKS
"We're reinventing HP's mobile workstation business with the ZBook17, ZBook 15 and ZBook14, all completely redesigned from the ground-up," continued Zafarana. "The ZBook 17 is our most powerful and expandable workstation, and the 15 is the most versatile and yet powerful. HP's smallest and lightest, the ZBook 14 is the industry's first workstation UltraBook with the same consistent industrial design as the 15 and 17."
The ZBook Mobile Workstations, which feature a thinner and lighter design, integrate next-generation graphics technologies from AMD and NVIDIA, including the latter's new Kepler-based professional graphics. The HP ZBook Mobile Workstations also all feature a tool-free chassis. Jimmy Holbert, HP Zbook Mobile Workstations Worldwide Category Manager noted that the ZBooks are 10 to 33 percent thinner than their predecessors. The HP ZBook 14 weighs in at the lightest of the three, at 3.6 pounds.
The HP ZBook 14 also comes with the option of a touch-enabled panel; the HP ZBook 15 includes an option for a QHD+ 3,200 x 1,800 display; and both the HP ZBook 15 and 17 feature a Thunderbolt port, as well as an optional DreamColor Display. The ZBook 15 and ZBook 17 are already shipping; the ZBook 14 is expected to ship by the end of October.
Jeff Wood, HP Vice President, Worldwide Product Management, Commercial Solutions Business Unit, noted how ZBooks "up the ante" in the media and entertainment arena. "It's phenomenal to me how much Apple has abandoned this market," he said. "Walking away from FCP was the first indication, not refreshing the Mac Pro for four years was another, and now introducing this brand new form factor that will appeal to consumers is another. They offer no expandability, a single processor socket, and no way to add software. They're abandoning this professional market."
"As we listen to the customers about what's keeping people from being creative at the speed of thought, it's ingest of data," he continued. "Obviously it's Thunderbolt. We've integrated high-speed ingestion of data. We knew our customers -- the professional market -- needed to have this.
UPGRADED Z DESKTOP WORKSTATIONS
HP has also upgraded its HP Z420, Z620 and Z820 HP Z Desktop Workstations. New are the latest Intel "Ivy Bridge" Xeon E5-1600v2 and E5-2600v2 families of processors, new memory running 16 percent faster, and 2nd generation Thunderbolt ports. Thunderbolt will enable data transfer speeds four times faster than USB 3.0.
"The Z230 is the brand new entry level workstation," said Josh Peterson, Director, Worldwide Product Marketing, Personal Systems Group, Commercial Solutions Business Unit. "It offers workstation performance at a PC price. The Z420 is the knee in the curve and the most popular of the workstations, and the Z620 is the dual-socket workstation very popular with media and entertainment clients and financial services. The flagship is the Z820, the no-compromise workstation with best performance."
The new Intel Ivy Bridge Xeon Processor represents up to a 50 percent increase in cores. "On a Z620 or 820, we'll have 24 physical cores," said Mike Diehl, Worldwide Product Manager for HP's Commercial Solutions Business Unit. "That's a lot of processing power, and that processing power is important to a film industry doing 4K films or 4K broadcast."
The dual-socket HP Z820 Workstation offers up to 24 processing cores, up to 512 GB of ECC memory, up to 15 TB of high-speed storage, and up to two NVIDIA K6000 graphics. The HP Z620 Workstation offers up to 24 discrete processing cores, up to 192 GB of ECC memory, up to 12 TB of high-speed storage, and up to NVIDIA K6000 or dual NVIDIA K5000 graphics for high-speed graphics performance. HP's most popular workstation, the HP Z420, includes up to eight processing cores using Intel Ivy Bridge processors, with up to 64 GB of ECC memory, 12 TB of high-speed storage, and NVIDIA Quadro K6000 or AMD W7000, or dual NVIDIA K2000 graphics. The upgraded HPZ420, Z620and Z820 Workstations, priced at $1,399, $1,689 and $2,439, respectively, are slated for a worldwide release in October.
NEW HP DISPLAYS
HP has also introduced two new professional displays, the HP Z27i and Z30i IPS, both of which provide 100 percent coverage of the sRGB color space, the standard color space for the web. The HP Z30i also covers 100 percent of the Adobe RGB color space.
The HP Z30i Display is available today starting at $1,329; the HPZ27i, slated for an October release, starts at $729. Wood described the difference between the DreamColor and Z Display. "With DreamColor, which is a 24-inch display, you get the widest gamut of color space," he said. "With the Z Display, you get a wider angle of viewing for a mobile device. You don't get the full color gamut display but we do a very true black…and it's priced under $2,000." For those who were disappointed that HP didn't show a 4K display, Wood says to "stay tuned." "4K is getting stronger," he said. "We're waiting on panel providers but you will see 4K displays as you get to the bigger displays."
At a pre-IBC event in New York, HP presented a range of customers who are using HP workstations, displays and other products, many of whom have recently switched to HP. Visual effects producer and supervisor Mark Russell (Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report, Hellboy) is now producing VFX for the upcoming Wolf of Wall Street (Rob Legato is VFX supervisor).
"Prior to this job, I was a Mac user," says Russell, who described a scene shot with a camera affixed to a drone. "We had to review footage before we left the location. At the time, the Canon 4K raw files could only be coded with Canon's prototype software that didn't run on a Mac. I did it on an HP Elite book." In another scene, the VFX team had to capture High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography of a 360-degtree environment, to be used in a greenscreen shot. "We create a sphere that goes in a virtual environment, and the inserted item is lit by photography from a real scene," Russell said. "With the DreamColor monitor, we could see the real colors and know we got it. That was extremely important, so we knew we wouldn't have to come back and shoot."
"Having been an exclusively Mac guy up until a year ago, I use the HP nearly all the time," he said. "HP platforms are definitely built by people who understand what we're doing. And when you're constantly adding new peripherals, HP has advanced the model of being able to open up the computer and add them yourself."
The Stockholm-headquartered Chimney, a full service creation agency, has 200 creatives in fives countries, said CEO/Founder Henric Larsson, who says the company has worked on commercials and several films including Let The Right One In and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. "Twenty years ago, we were all SGI," he said. "We have been all HP for years and years now, and it wasn't a central group decision. The IT managers in our Warsaw, Stockholm, and Berlin facilities have chosen HP, each on their own."
"Hardware manufacturers like HP have helped us boost the end quality," he added. "That hasn't happened so much on the software side. GPU Processing has given us real-time, so creatives can play around with it. With Thunderbolt, now there is no limit." The cost of hardware is no longer an issue he says; software licensing is more of an economic issue. What is important in choosing hardware? "Reliability, reliability, reliability," he said. "Plus innovation and minimized support costs. We are so busy that if we have any hardware problem at all, even a 'Diamond' support program can't help. We need to have hardware where problems never happen. That's why all our facilities have decided for HP."
Indie filmmaker Ryan Brown, based in Portland, Oregon, is a one-man band: he writes, shoots, and edits. "I've been a die-hard Mac guy for years," he said. "Then came FCPX. I was excited to try it but there was no third party support and in a year I decided I needed to do something." He got a ZBook to try it out. "I remember putting 4K on it and everything was smooth, snappy, due to the hardware behind the scenes," he said. "Windows 7 is a solid operating system, and all the software I run, Adobe Premiere and Adobe Creative Suite is all dialed. I need a solid system. If you go the Apple way, maybe that's the right way. But if you want to open up your possibilities, HP is the way to go."
HP's new ZBook promises to be enticing to many in the media and entertainment market who need power and mobility. For those professionals fed up with waiting for Apple to upgrade the Mac Book Pro, the experiences of customers such as VFX producer Mark Russell, Chimney CEO Henric Larsson and indie filmmaker Ryan Brown may indeed be the incentive needed to leave the Apple ecosystem and give the HP Mobile and Desktop Workstation universe a try.
With the latest in Intel architecture, HP offers enough choices among its hardware solutions, to fit every need and budget. Coupled with some of the powerful, integrated software solutions -- such as Adobe Creative Cloud -- that run on the HP platforms, my guess is we'll be seeing an increasing number of film/TV professionals make the switch.