HP has completely redesigned its desktop HP Z Workstation family, introducing three new machines that build on the look and feel of the HP Z2 Mini. The HP Z8, Z6 and Z4 workstations also boast brand new technology, including Intel Xeon Scalable CPUs and a six channel memory architecture on the Z6 and Z8, as well as enhanced security and expandability.
All three machines are derived from the same industrial design, which marks a change from the standard angular chassis of older generation HP Z Workstations. HP describes its new towers as having ‘flowing chiseled geometry’ and featuring ‘advanced manufacturing techniques and materials’. The new chassis are not simply designed to look good: cast aluminium handles aid mobility, while redesigned thermal intakes are said to improve air flow.
The flagship HP Z8, in particular, features new ducting that routes fresh air to the second CPU, rather than recycling warm air expelled from the ducting on the first CPU. Meanwhile, the HP Z4 boasts a ‘dramatically smaller chassis’ for cramped workspaces and a new dust filter option for industrial environments, which was first introduced with the HP Z240. All three workstations boast tool-less serviceability, while the HP Z8 offers rear access to the power supply unit.
The driving force behind the new workstations is Intel’s new Xeon Scalable processors. The HP Z6 and Z8 support two of these new generation CPUs which, with up to 28 cores per processor, make them ideal for highly threaded workflows such as rendering or simulation. Support for six-channel 2,666MHz memory should also help boost performance in applications that benefit from high-bandwidth I/O, such as FEA or CFD. And there’s plenty of memory to go around. The Z6 can support up to 384GB, while the Z8 can go all the way up to 3TB by putting 128GB DIMMs in all 24 slots.
The HP Z6 can also be configured as a single CPU workstation (a riser module adds in the second CPU and memory). This, says, HP, is useful for future proofing as well as for firms who want to standardise on a single chassis that can support all different types of workflows.
Meanwhile the HP Z4 is a dedicated single CPU machine with support for one Intel Xeon Scalable processor with up to 10 cores. It features 4-channel 2,666 MHz memory up to 256GB.
At launch, HP didn’t talk specifics on which professional GPUs will be available, but we expect to see a wide range of options from both Nvidia (Quadro) and AMD (Radeon Pro). The HP Z6 and Z8 can house up to three double height boards, such as the Nvidia Quadro P6000, while the Z4 can support up to two. In design and engineering, multiple GPUs can be used for physically-based rendering, simulation, deep learning or high-end VR.
HP sees GPU use growing significantly so has engineered the HP Z8 chassis so as to keep its seven full-length, full height PCIe slots reserved for GPUs. To do this it has created two internal PCIe “personality” slots for specialist add-in boards, such as a dual 10 GbE network module, which is available as an option instead of the standard Dual 1GbE Ports.
PCIe slots are also freed up by putting two M.2 slots directly on the motherboard, which can be populated with HP Z Turbo Drive PCIe SSDs. With the previous generation HP Z440, Z640 and Z840 workstation, these NVMe SSDs were only available on PCIe add-in boards.
High-speed data transfer can also be supported via USB 3.1 G2 Type C, as well as optional Thunderbolt 3.
HP is also placing a big emphasis on data security and the new workstations feature a number of technologies, some of which work below the OS, before the machine even boots.
This includes HP SureStart (a self-healing BIOS that offers intrusion detection), the HP Client Security Suite and HP Secure Erase, which overwrites data 5x on any retired workstation to ensure all data is securely erased and unrecoverable. All of these features were previously available in HP Z mobile workstations.
HP has also announced six new HP Z displays ranging in sizes from 21.5-inch though to 27-inch. But it’s the brand-new HP Z38c Curved Display that stands out by offering offer a seamless workspace without the distracting centre bezel of dual display setups, which are popular with CAD users. The 37.5-inch diagonal display has a wide 21:9 aspect ratio and is 4K (3,840 x 1,600) resolution. It is available now, starting at £1,300 (€1,450).
The HP Z8 and HP Z6 will be available in October, while the HP Z4 Workstation is expected to be available in December.