AAA Drafting Blog

A SolidWorks designer talks about stuff related to CAD and mechanical design

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

HP's new Z1 CAD Workstation - Power without the tower

Will Hewlett Packards new Z1 workstation turn the companies fortunes ? Meg Whitman, HP's new CEO and former chief executive of eBay certainly hopes so. Meg wants everyone to know that HP is and always will be a company with great engineering.

Hewlett Packard has introduced a new workstation called the Z1, which seems to mimic the format of Apples iMac computers in many respects. To be fair HP has produced a number of all-in-one designs for its consumer market, but my first impression of the Z1 was more that it looked for all the world like a black iMac.

Being a workstation means that this computer is a purpose built workhorse for graphics and CAD applications. HP worked closely with nVidea to develop special video cards for the Z1. The base model has on board video while a special Quadro card is available for higher end models.

Unlike other all-in-one computers the Z1 features a lift up screen. When you raise the hood, so to speak, you can get at all the necessary components underneath making it hopefully easy to upgrade. Whether or not the market that buys all-in-ones really want ot upgrade their computers is another question. As well, computer technology moves so fast these days that most of us replace our computers rather than upgrade them.

On the other hand, providing the ability to tinker with the inside should appeal to the engineering crowd, especially since you wont have to dive underneath your desk to do work on your machine. It certainly appeals to the geek factor when you can raise your hood and let everyone see what you are up to. Hopefully looking cool and not ruining it by inducing a blinding blue flash in the process.

The base workstation uses a Xeon i3 processor and can be configured to accept different multi core processors for more computing horsepower. The 27 inch display features.

Hewlett Packard has been facing stiff competition in all its market segments. Sales have been declining. To combat this they say HP will not try to compete on price which is something it has been trying to do in the personal laptop market. But it has had workstations before which certainly were not priced at the bottom of the market.

HP once had a great reputation for making great computing equipment. It seems to me that the focus should be on service so that people willingly choose to pay top dollar for their equipment. The cool factor of the new Z1 workstation seems like a perfect opportunity for HP to really connect with the engineering community and work with them to deal with computer problems. An initiative like that would likely encourage a lot of companies to standardize on HP workstations and embrace the concept of the power without the tower


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