When Dell rolled out its revamped Latitude E series of notebooks in August, the company's executives made a passing reference to several new mobile workstations in the Precision family but were short of details. Now, Dell has officially released the Precision M6400 workstation, and it went on sale Sept. 24 with a base price of $2,599.
With the entire PC industry moving toward more mobility, workstations are no longer an exception. Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo are all offering mobile workstations to go along with more traditional desktop models. IDC is calling for the overall workstation market to be worth $5.3 billion in revenues annually.
The Dell Precision M6400 workstation comes with some cutting-edge features, including the quad-core Intel Core 2 Quad QX9300 processor, which offers a top clock speed of 2.53GHz and 12MB of Level 2 cache. Dell is also offering a number of Intel's dual-core Core 2 Duo processors as well. The workstation uses the Intel Q43 Express chip set.
Intel introduced the Core 2 Quad QX9300 processor at the August Developer Forum and the chip works within the Centrino 2 mobile platform.
The Precision M6400 supports up to 16GB of DD3 (double data rate 3) memory with a four-DIMM (dual in-line memory module) card configuration. On the graphics side, Dell is offering a choice of Nvidia's Quadro FX2700 or FX7300 discrete graphics cards.
For data storage, Dell has a standard hard disk drive that can support up to 320GB or there is the 64GB SSD option. Customers can also add a second HDD or SSD. The mobile workstation supports an array of 802.11a/b/g and draft-n wireless technologies as well as mobile broadband options. The workstation also supports Microsoft Windows Vista with the downgrade to XP available, and it supports Red Hat Linux W5.
While Dell is advertising the Precision M6400 workstation with a price of $2,599, that only buys the customer a more base configuration with a lower-end Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 80GB HDD and less DDR3 memory. A quick check of the Dell Web site shows that by adding the high-end Intel Core 2 Quad QX9300 processors, the SSD option and 4GB of memory easily pushes the cost past $4,000.
In the workstation market, the Dell Precision M6400 is likely to compete against the Lenovo ThinkPad W700 mobile workstation, which also has a 17-inch display. Some of the features with the W700 include an Intel Core 2 Extreme X9300 processor, a Nvidia Quadro FX 3700M graphics chip, which features 1GB of dedicated video memory, up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM and a data storage capacity of up 960GB with standard HDDs.
In addition to its workstation announcement, Dell disclosed that it plans to switch all its laptops to better-power-consuming LED backlighting by 2010. A Dell spokesperson told PC Magazine that on a 15-inch display, the new LED backlights can cut power consumption by more than 40 percent.