HP Unveils Workstation Ultrabook; Revs Z-Series Towers

'We're Not Going Private.'

Hewlett-Packard today officially unveiled the world's first mobile workstation Ultrabook, a cherry to top a lollapalooza of expansions to its Z-Series line of desktop workstations and displays with improved processor performance, and memory and storage capacities. Jeff Wood, HP's vice president of worldwide marketing, served as anchor at a confidential media and analyst briefing in New York last week. He described a demand for high-end workstations coming from media, finance, health care, education and other industries, with a diminishing number of companies to fill it. "SGI is gone. IBM is out, and Sun is nowhere to be found," he said. "And we're not going private," he said in an apparent jab at Dell, which along with Lenovo is the only other major company with a significant share of the segment. IDC's 2Q13 workstation tracker report shows HP leading the pack with a 42.5 percent share, followed by Dell at 34.9 percent and Lenovo at 20.9 percent. All tolled, HP announced three all-new mobile workstations, updates to as many desktop workstations and a pair of new displays, all wrapped in simplified Z-Series branding. Here's a look at each new product, their specifications and availabilities.

ZBook 14

Appearing on stage with what looked like an EliteBook, Wood pulled from the clamshell an all-new ZBook 14, a 3.6-pound Haswell-based workhorse with options rivaling its desktop counterparts. Its Intel Core i5 and i7 options max out at the Intel Core i7-4600U 2.1-GHz dual-core part with integrated chipset and the latest Intel HD Graphics 4400, DisplayPort 1.2 output. There's also an optional AMD FirePro M4100 with 1 GB dedicated memory with dynamic switching. Display options include full-HD (1,920-x-1,080) and 10-point touch. The system can handle as much as 16 GB of memory, and spinning or solid-state drives as large as 1 TB or 512 GB, respectively, all serviceable sans tools. Wireless options include dual-band wireless AC and mobile broadband. It's also compliant with the MIL-STD 810G durability spec. The ZBook 14 is set to ship in late October; pricing was not disclosed.

ZBook 15/17 Power

Shipping now are the larger, more-powerful ZBook 15 and ZBook 17 mobile workstations. Aside from their 15.6- and 17.3-inch screen sizes, the two are mostly identical, except for ZBook 17's highest-end Intel Core i7-4930MX 3.0-GHz quad-core processor. The ZBook 15 tops out at the Intel Core i7-4900MQ 2.8-GHz quad-core chip. All processor options include Intel HD Graphics 4600, and both also can be configured with an Nvidia Quadro K610M with 1 GB dedicated video memory. The ZBook 15 will offer a 3,200-x-1,800 display; the 17 tops out at 1,920-x-1,080. The top ZBook 15 graphics option is Nvidia's K2100M with 2 GB dedicated video memory. On the ZBook 17, it's the K5100M with 8 GB. Both systems support 4k displays through DisplayPort 1.2. Storage options and pricing next.

ZBook 15/17 Storage

Both of HP's higher-end ZBooks support a maximum of 32 GB of 1,600-GHz DDR3L dual-channel memory in two or four SODIMM slots, depending on the processor. Both can handle spinning or solid-state drives as large as 1 TB or 512 GB, respectively. The sub-eight pound ZBook 17 can house as many as four internal hard drives. All memory and storage are accessible without tools. For external storage and display, ZBook 15 and 17 both provide three USB 3.0 ports (one with charging) and DisplayPort 1.2 output with 4k support. There's also a Thunderbolt 2 port with 20 GB/s transfer rate for up to six external storage and/or display devices. Both offer a spill-resistant keyboard with bottom drain and comply with the MIL-STD 810G spec for durability and resistance to incursions by sand, dust, moisture and other contaminants. HP said it will offer a 3,200 x 1,800 version of the 6.2-pound ZBook 15. ZBook 15 and ZBook 17 are initially available only with quad-core processors; prices start at $1,899.


HP has given its Z-Series workstations a jolt to their cores. The series now supports Ivy Bridge, Intel's thin and powerful Xeon E5-1600-v2 and Xeon E5-1600-v2 processor families, along with the faster memory speeds they can handle. The new Z-Series systems also support Thunderbolt 2, the second major iteration of the high-speed storage and display inteconnect developed by Apple and Intel. In its minitower design, a fully blown Z420 now can be configured with an Intel Xeon E5-1680v2 3.0-GHz eight-core processor running with as much as 64 GB of 1,866-MHz ECC memory in four channels across eight slots. The system can now address up to 12 TB of storage and is certified with single Nvidia Quadro K6000 or AMD W7000 graphics cards or two Nvidia K2000 graphics cards.


Moving up the line, the Z620 delivers a two-socket system in a rackable minitower with a maximum of 24 cores across two Xeon E5-2697v2 12-core processors. Its 12 DIMM slots can handle as much as 192 GB of 1,866-MHz 8-channel ECC DDR3 memory across four channels per CPU. Its 6-channel SATA controller can handle a total of 12 TB of storage and can manage RAID 0, 1, 5 or 10 arrays. Integrated LSI 9212-4i (4-port SAS) or 9717-4i4e (8-port SAS) controllers are optional. In addition to dual-gigabit Ethernet ports, four USB 3.0 ports (two front, two rear) and a FireWire port, HP offers an optional Thunderbolt 2 port implemented as a PCIe card. For graphics, high-end options include Nvidia Quadro K4000, K5000, 6000, Tesla C2075 and K20c, or the AMD FirePro W7000.


Also implemented in a rackable minitower is the Z820, which supports as many as 24 cores. At the higher end, it can accept Intel's Xeon E5-2687W 3.1-GHz eight-core processors. In 16 DIMM slots, the unit can address up to 512 GB of 1,866-MHz 8-channel ECC DDR3 memory across four channels per CPU. Storage capabilities, graphics and Thunderbolt options mirror those of the Z620. Z420 pricing starts at $1,399; Z620 at $1,689; and Z820 at $2,439.

Z-Series Displays

Also, HP today unveiled two new Z-Series displays, adding 27- and 30-inch models to the rebranded line it launched in July. The two new displays employ IPS-gen 2 LCD panels, which reportedly consume less power than those of the prior generation without effecting viewing angle or color accuracy. The Z27i offers a maximum native resolution of 2,560-x-1,440 (at 60Hz) and provides 99 percent coverage of the sRGB color space, according to the company. The Z30i delivers 2,560-x-1,600 (at 60Hz) with 100 percent coverage of sRGB and Adobe color spaces. Both panels are attached to their included tilt-swivel bases with a quick-release VESA mount, enabling the panel to be quickly reconfigured or remounted when necessary. An optional kit permits mounting of an HP thin client or small form-factor workstation to the stand. Both displays accept DisplayPort 1.2, VGA, DVI and HDMI inputs, and both include a four-port USB 3.0 hub and outputs for HP's Speaker Bar. Available now, the Z30i lists for $1,329. The Z27i will begin shipping in October for $729 list.