Tag Archives: ZBook

HP Reveals Exciting New ZBooks at Their Global Workstations Event in New York

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Last week, after much anticipation, HP rolled out their fleet of new ZBook mobile workstations to an assembled audience of journalists and industry analysts at their Global Workstations Event on the West Side of Manhattan. Aside from this article all about the new machines (and the event), there is a link to a video I made about it at the end of the article.

Professionals know that HP is the world’s leading manufacturer of workstations, consistently pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with both tower and mobile units. HP workstations offer among the highest levels of performance in the industry often with surprisingly attractive price tags — performance that often leaves competitors like Apple and Dell far behind.

The New ZBook Studio

As executives from HP’s workstation division including Jeff Wood, Jim Zafarana, and Josh Peterson began to describe the new machines to us at the announcement, it was clear that they were about to introduce something special. Though they gave mention of the recently introduced Z240 workstation, which I wrote about here, this time, however, the rollout was not about big-iron workstation towers and desktops, but new mobile workstations (though several products related to desktop workstations were also introduced which we’ll discuss below).

Jeff Wood kicks off HP's Workstation event in New York City as assembled journalists and industry analysts watch and listen.
Jeff Wood kicks off HP’s Workstation event in New York City as assembled journalists and industry analysts watch and listen.

The new mobile workstations are not just refreshed models of previous models. They’ve been completely redesigned and not only offer unparalleled power in a mobile unit, but the latest technological innovations as well.

In the case of the HP ZBook Studio, a brand new mobile workstation which HP is calling the world’s first quad core Ultrabook (which means ultra slim design, ultra portability and ultra high battery life), HP has introduced a machine that could very well revolutionize the market and is their thinnest and lightest full performance portable machine to date.

The new HP ZBook Studio. Sleek, light and very powerful.
The new HP ZBook Studio. Sleek, light and very powerful.

The ZBook Studio starts at just 4.4 lbs with a thickness of only 18mm. My last portable machine was around 8 lbs, much less powerful and was a real drag to lug around. Suddenly airline flights will become a lot easier for those who want to do serious work on the road.

In addition to being extremely thin and light, the ZBook Studio features not only Intel Core processors, but Intel’s industrial strength Xeon processors, which is the first time I have heard of them being put in a laptop. Another thing I really like is the fact that you can put dual 1 TB HP Z Turbo Drive G2s for a total of 2 TB of storage. For those of you aren’t familiar with HP’s turbo drive technology, it is basically solid state storage that goes right into the PCIe bus delivering performance levels much faster than SSDs.

The ZBook Studio closed. Ultrabook design, workstation power.
The ZBook Studio closed. Ultrabook design, workstation power.

If you need more disk space to work with, you can connect external storage to the two built-in Thunderbolt 3 ports. Thunderbolt 3 was introduced in June and offers incredibly fast transfer speeds of 40 Gbps. It wasn’t all that long ago that I gushed about Thunderbolt 2’s speed of 20 Gbps, double the speed of the original Thunderbolt’s 10 Gbps. Naturally, with a speed of 40 Gbps, Thunderbolt 3 is great for external storage, as well connecting external video cards for GPU 3D rendering, a technique that has, in the past year or so, become a popular alternative to brute force CPU rendering. One Thunderbolt port can also support two 4K displays and according to Intel’s website can transfer a 4K movie in 30 seconds (even with compression that is very fast).

The ZBook Studio also allows for up to a hefty 32 GB of ECC memory as well as powerful new NVIDIA GPU options such as the NVIDIA Quadro M1000M 2 GB GDDR5. Of course you can opt for integrated Intel HD graphics 530, though it’s not such an attractive option for graphics pros.

HP's Josh Peterson gave an in-depth description of the technology that went into the new ZBook Studio.
HP’s Josh Peterson gave an in-depth description of the technology that went into the new ZBook Studio.

In addition to these features, the ZBook Studio also offers an optional HP award-winning DreamColor UHD or FHD display (available as a touch display). The ZBook Studio also includes dual cooling fans.

The ZBook Studio will be available in December starting at $1,699.

More ZBooks

Besides the ZBook Studio, HP also introduced three more ZBook Mobile Workstation models, which contain the latest innovations in GPUs, CPUs and displays, but also are dramatically thinner and lighter than their predecessors.

The HP ZBook 15u is a workstation Ultrabook and is a nice combination of mobility and affordability. This low-cost compact machine can be configured with up to 32 GB of RAM, AMD FirePro professional graphics with a 2GB frame buffer, HP Z Turbo Drive G2, 1.5 TB of total storage, and an FHD touch display (1920 X 1080 pixels). The ZBook 15u is planned for availability in January starting at $1099.

The HP ZBook 15u G3 Mobile Workstation: Affordable performance.
The HP ZBook 15u G3 Mobile Workstation: Affordable performance.

The HP ZBook 15 is the next generation of the world’s top selling mobile workstation, according to IDC Worldwide workstation tracker for Q2 2015. HP has redesigned the ZBook 15 inside and out and the result is that it is 27 percent thinner and 7 percent lighter than the previous generation. In addition the ZBook 15 boasts an impressive 27 percent increase in battery life over the previous generation. It’s got a 15.6 inch diagonal display and can be configured with Intel Core or Xeon processors, an impressive 64 GB ECC memory, two 1 TB HP Z Turbo Drive G2s with (a total of 3 TB of storage), two Thunderbolt 3 ports and optional HP DreamColor UHD or FHD touch displays. Pricing is not yet available.

The HP ZBook 15: The world's best selling mobile workstation.
The HP ZBook 15: The world’s best selling mobile workstation.

The HP ZBook 17 represents the utmost in power and performance in HP’s mobile workstation line. The latest incarnation of this 17.3 inch powerhouse features a whopping 67 percent increase in battery life. It is also 11 percent lighter than its predecessor. You can configure this machine with Intel core or Xeon processors, up to 64 GB ECC memory, two 1 TB HP Z Turbo Drive G2s (for a total of 4 TB of storage), two Thunderbolt 3 ports and optional DreamColor UHD or FHD touch displays. Something that really sets the HP ZBook 17 apart from its siblings is its ability to support an NVIDIA M5000M Quadro graphics with an 8 GB frame buffer. That is serious graphics performance for a mobile workstation. Pricing is not yet available.

The HP ZBook 17: HP's largest and most powerful mobile workstation.
The HP ZBook 17: HP’s largest and most powerful mobile workstation.

Actually, the ZBook Studio, ZBook 15 and 17 all feature new NVIDIA Quadro professional graphics which provide nearly two times the performance of previous generation graphics. These systems also offer a choice of Intel Iris Pro Graphics P580, Intel HD graphics P530 or Intel HD graphics 530 for those with less serious graphics demands.

Other ZBook Considerations

HP makes sure their new workstation designs undergo strict tests by independent third parties such as MIL-STD 810G, a rugged United States military standard that tests environmental conditions such as pressure, temperature, shock, moisture, dust, atmosphere, humidity, vibration and others including a 30 inch drop test performed 36 times. All in all there are over 15 grueling tests.

The entire HP ZBook mobile workstation family.
The entire HP ZBook mobile workstation family.

All HP ZBooks also come preloaded with HP Remote Graphics Software, a useful application that allows for effective remote collaboration, especially handy for graphics applications. With it, you can harness the raw power of advanced graphics workstations over a network. ZBooks also come with HP Performance Advisor, software that gives you all sorts of insight into the internal components and performance of your machine, as well as HP Velocity for more reliable and fast network performance.

Also introduced at the Global Workstation Launch Event was the new ZBook Dock with Thunderbolt 3. This new mobile workstation dock allows users to link up to 10 devices at once through ports that include Thunderbolt 3 (with support of DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.1 Gen 2, and PCIe), four USB 3.0, RJ-45, VGA, combo audio, and two additional DisplayPorts. A useful thing to have around.

An aerial view of the new HP ZBook Dock with Thunderbolt 3
An aerial view of the new HP ZBook Dock with Thunderbolt 3

Other Announcements

While the big news at HP’s event was mainly about the new ZBooks, there were some other interesting product announcements for desktop workstations. The HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro combines up to four super-fast HP Z Turbo Drive G2 modules into one PCIe x16 card, can support up to 2TB, and delivers sequential performance up to, wait, you might want to sit down for this one, 9.0GB/s. That is basically 16 times faster than a standard SSD drive, an unprecedented level of performance that is perfect for today’s high resolution workflows of 4K and beyond. The HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro can be used with HP Z440, Z640 and Z840 Workstations. A card with four 256GB modules will cost $1,376.

The HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro allows you to combine an array of four Z Turbo drives in one PCI x16 card.
The HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro allows you to combine an array of four Z Turbo drives in one PCI x16 card.

HP also introduced the new HP Z Cooler, an ultra quiet cooling solution designed to reduce system noise in HP Z Workstation environments which is perceived as being 40 percent quieter to the human ear compared to previous generations. This is an important development, not only to cut down on distracting noise, but is an absolute necessity for sound studios and music producers who need absolute silence during recording. The HP Z Cooler works with the HP Z440 and Z840 Workstations. It’s available now for a price of $120.

The HP Z Cooler: An innovative new workstation CPU cooler.
The HP Z Cooler: An innovative new workstation CPU cooler.

On the display side, HP also introduced the HP Z22n and HP Z23n Narrow Bezel IPS Displays. These are the narrowest three-sided displays from HP, and are nearly borderless on three sides. They’ve got a 178-degree viewing angle IPS technology and the color gamut is calibrated to 95 and 96 percent sRGB for optimal color quality. The HP Z22n and Z23n are available now and priced at $209 and $229 respectively.

The HP Z23n narrow bezel IPS display
The HP Z23n narrow bezel IPS display

Concluding Thoughts

HP’s new ZBooks are perfect for filmmakers, post-production professionals, video editors, music producers and creative artists of all kinds who need serious mobile power. 3D animators, visual effects artists and colorists have longed recognized the power of HP workstations. They’re being used in top studios like DreamWorks Animation and many others on countless blockbuster movies. Video editors and music producers who may have traditionally used Apple MacBooks have also recently come on board, recognizing the superior performance HP offers both in their tower and mobile workstation designs.

This may have something to do with the perception that Apple has lost interest in the pro market. It is a reasonable assumption. With droves of kids (and adults) streaming into their stores for the latest phones and gadgets to play their favorite pop songs or for Netflix binge watching, it looks like the Cupertino company has enough work on their hands without worrying about the needs of the professional market.

If you think about it, the consumer, rather than the professional, has always been important to Apple. Even going back to the original Macintosh 128K, if you look at its original marketing materials, was aimed at common people, housewives, and students and was originally designed to be an appliance computer. When it was adopted by the desktop publishing industry and then the video industry, it wasn’t really due to Apple that people started thinking of it as a “graphics” machine. It was due to the efforts of companies such as Adobe and Avid who developed applications for it like Photoshop, After Effects, Pro Tools and Media Composer. These applications are all easily available on both platforms today.

HP’s products, on the other hand, have long enjoyed a solid technological reputation as being designed by and for engineers. So it’s no surprise that their machines excel at high-end, industrial strength environments. That’s why serious 3D computer graphics and animation pros (as well as scientific applications) have always been, for the most part, the province of Windows (and Unix) machines and why artists today are also choosing them to run Adobe’s Creative Suite, Pro Tools and other critical creative applications.

Stephen Hunter from NASA explained why he relies on HP workstations.
Stephen Hunter from NASA explained why he relies on HP workstations.

On that note, at HP’s event last week, an interesting presentation was given by Stephen Hunter who works at NASA. He discussed how HP’s mobile workstation are relied upon by the International Space Station. Hunter stressed that any piece of equipment that goes into space must not only be technologically advanced, but must be extremely rugged and reliable. The lives of the astronauts depend on it.

By the way, I also made a video version of this article on YouTube that has more images of the machine, as well as a few other things. Click here to watch the video.

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HP’s Hot New ZBooks, Virtual Workstation and Displays

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Along with the new year comes news of exciting products from HP which they will be unveiling at CES 2015. On the list are powerful new workstation products as well as innovative displays.

In workstations, nobody quite does it like HP and that’s why they’re number one in industrial strength machines with their Z Series line. You’ll find their workstation towers (such as their mega-powerful Z820) commonplace in animation studios, editorial houses, and color suites all over the place.

The HP Z family of workstations, both towers and mobile, lead the workstation market today.
The HP Z family of workstations, both towers and mobile, are market leaders.

Along with the Z workstation towers are their highly rated and esteemed series of mobile workstations. The HP ZBooks, which combine extreme performance with stylish and sexy looks in a compact machine, offering workstation power on the go.

New ZBooks

First up are the HP ZBook 14 and 15u G2 Mobile Workstations. These ZBooks focus on leading in price and performance and both look to be a great choice for entry level users or those seeking a powerful mobile workstation at an affordable price.

The ZBook 15u, for example, features a 15.6 inch diagonal high performance screen while the ZBook features a 14 inch display. They come with 5th generation Intel Core processors and now include professional AMD FirePro 3D graphics (NVIDIA graphics are available on other ZBooks such as the top of the line ZBook 17 G2 mobile workstation). The ZBook 14 also features an optional touch display.

The new ZBook 14 and 15u offers great performance at a cost that everyone can afford whether you work at a large studio or are an independent creator.
The new ZBook 14 and 15u offers great performance at a cost that everyone can afford whether you work at a large studio or are an independent creator.

Both of the new ZBooks allow memory capacity up to 16 GB (an ample amount for a mobile machine) as well as 1.25 TB of storage. The ZBooks also include connections for the HP Z Turbo Drive, an innovative new type of storage. Not quite an SSD drive, the Z Turbo drive is essentially PCIe connected solid state storage. By connecting directly to the bus, the Z Turbo Drive offers twice the performance of SATA SSD. Note that this extremely fast storage solution is also available on Z Series towers and offer read performance speeds of an unprecedented 1 GB/s. Wow. To read more about HP Z Turbo drives, click here.

The new ZBook mobile workstations are rugged and reliable, having undergone 115,000 hours of testing by HP and will be available this month. Pricing starts at $1,249 and $1,199 respectively.

The DL380z Virtual Workstation

Rather than buying a new workstation for everyone in your studio, including freelancers, how about giving them a virtual workstation? You can with the HP DL380z Virtual Workstation Gen 9 which offers Z Workstation power with data security and is able to be accessed from virtually anywhere with PCs, thin clients, notebooks, and even tablet devices. The new DL380z is more powerful, has more integrated I/O and more expandability than the previous generation and pro 3D animators will certainly dig the latest crop of professional graphics cards in the DL380z, such as NVIDIA GRID.

The HP DL380z virtual workstation allows you to connect any device, such as the thin clients pictured here. Now, everyone in your organization can get access to workstation power.
The HP DL380z virtual workstation allows you to connect any device, such as the thin clients pictured here. Now, everyone in your organization can get access to workstation power.

The new DL380z s powered by the latest E5 v3 processors with up to 36 cores, 3.5 GHz and an incredible 1.5 TB DDR4 2133 MHz of memory. It also has a 2U rack mount and can run on either Windows or Linux with central management that helps keep sensitive data secure by only transmitting encrypted pixel data over a LAN or WAN.

Together with HP RGS (Remote Graphics Software) the DL380z works even over long distances and shoddy network connections. Note that HP RGS 7.1 is expected to ship in April 2015 and boasts a 60 percent performance boost. To those who work in motion media, HP RGS 7.1 (which HP calls “the best-in-class remote graphics software”) now supports higher resolution displays and perfect image playback allowing users to edit remotely without limitations. In addition, RGS 7.1 allows allows increased collaboration abilities for Wacom tablet users.

A shared, virtual workstation solution sounds like a great idea to me, especially if I wanted to provide a team of artists and animators with great performance without giving each of them a big tower. They’d also be able to connect at home using an ultra thin client. Is this the future of workstations? I’m not sure, but the concept of shared resources like this seems to make a lot of sense to me.

The HP DL380z Virtual Workstation is available for purchase now.

Virtual Reality Returns

Next on the list are some exciting new displays including the debut of nothing less than an interactive virtual reality display as well as 4K and 5K ultra high-definition displays. There are also new curved displays. At a sneak peek of HP’s new products in New York, I was able to preview the new displays (as well as the ZBooks).

At the top of the “Ooh-la-la” list is the HP Zvr Virtual Reality Display. When I sat down for a look at it I was unsure what to expect. After putting on a set of active glasses, I sat down to a demo that consisted of a 3D scene that included a set of objects that I could manipulate with a stylus reminiscent of the kind you would see on a Wacom tablet.

The innovative HP-Zvr allows for the manipulation of 3D objects in a truly immersive three dimensional environment.
The innovative HP-Zvr allows for the manipulation of 3D objects in a truly immersive three dimensional environment.

The results were, frankly, astonishing. Working with the HP Zvr I was able to interactively move and manipulate models in total 3D space in front of my very eyes with remarkable clarity and precision. The experience felt organic and immersive and beyond compare with a 2D display.

I can remember back in the 1990s when virtual reality was a shining new frontier in computer graphics. Somehow it faded away and “virtual reality” slipped into oblivion for reasons I never really understood why. The good news is that it seems to be coming back with technology like the Oculus Rift.

Will the HP Zvr change the way 3D animators and artists work? Well, It will probably take some time before software developers adapt their software to truly take advantage of the HP Zvr virtual reality display and the possibilities it offers, but I hope so. I am very excited by the implications and potential applications this product brings to the scene. We’ll just have to keep an eye out and see where it goes.

The HP Zvr is expected to be available by Spring 2015.

Ultra High Resolution Displays

As 4K video production continues its adoption in the industry, there has become a need for monitors with increasingly higher resolutions.

HP is releasing two 4K monitors as well as a 5K display for the ultimate resolution. With a 5K monitor, you can not only see every pixel in a frame of 4K video, but have additional space for editing timelines, or other control palettes common in visual effects work.

The two 4K 16:9 UHD displays feature 3840 x 2160 pixels of resolution. The HP Z27s has a 27 inch diagonal screen and the HP Z24 is 23.8 inch diagonal. Both support sRGB and Adobe RGB color gamuts and 1.07 billion colors. Ports include DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, Mini-DP, MHL and USB 3.0. An ergonomically designed stand includes the ability to switch between landscape and portrait modes.

The HP Z27s features 4K Ultra HD resolution at 3840 x 2160 pixels.
The HP Z27s features 4K Ultra HD resolution at 3840 x 2160 pixels.

The HP Z27q display has a 5120×2880, 5K wide-color gamut that delivers seven times more pixels than a classic full HD display. This 14.7 million pixel IPS monitor is factory calibrated, has a 16:9 aspect ration, 300 nits luminance and 1.07 billion colors. It also offers picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture, allowing users to display mobile device and PC feeds.

The HP Z27q offers unprecedented 5K resolution, making it very attractive to those working on high resolution film or visual effects projects. Here it is pictured with a mobile device attached to its MHL port.
The HP Z27q offers unprecedented 5K resolution, making it very attractive to those working on high resolution film or visual effects projects. Here it is pictured with a mobile device attached to its MHL port.

The HP Z27s, and HP Z24s displays are expected to be available in January and April respectively. Pricing starts at $749 and $549. The HP Z27q Display is expected to be available beginning in March for $1299.

Other displays

Also on the line up are new curved displays. While I have never worked with one for an extended period of time, I imagine it would provide a more immersive experience, better peripheral vision and more consistent color at the edges.

First up are the HP Z34c, HP ENVY 34c, HP EliteDisplay S270c and HP Pavilion 27c which deliver an elegant curved visual and audio experience with enhanced peripheral readability.

HP-Z34c is an elegant curved 34 inch diagonal display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440,
HP-Z34c is an elegant curved 34 inch diagonal display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440,

The HP Z34c and HP ENVY 34c 3000r measure 34-inches diagonally, have a wide 21:9 aspect ratio and support 3440 x 1440 resolution with 98 percent sRGB and a premium 6 watt/channel speakers with DTS Audio.

The 27-inch diagonal, HP EliteDisplay S270c and HP Pavilion 27c 4000r Curved Displays, features a 1920 x 1080 HD resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio and 95 percent sRGB color gamut.

While not especially high resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixels, the HP EliteDisplay-S270c may be of interest to those looking to grace their desk with a curved HD monitor.
While not especially high resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixels, the HP EliteDisplay-S270c may be of interest to those looking to grace their desk with a curved HD monitor.

The HP Z34c and HP ENVY 34c are expected to be available in April at an estimated price of $999. HP EliteDisplay S270c and Pavilion 27c Curved Displays are available now for $399.

All in all, I’d say that this new crop of useful and innovative products by HP is a great way to start out in the new year.

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