HP Business Desktops Get Makeover

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-09-06

HP Business Desktops Get Makeover

Hewlett-Packard wants to take the hassle out of managing fleets of desktops with a new lineup of business PCs.

The Palo Alto, Calif., computer giant on Sept. 6 rolled out four new desktop models in its HP Compaq Business PC and HP desktop workstation lines. Two of the models offer Intels Core 2 Duo desktop processor, while two include Advanced Micro Devices Athlon 64 X2 or Opteron processors.

HP made over the desktops with higher-performance processors and other bits, such as supporting chip sets. However, it also emphasized increased security and manageability, two major sources of focus for senior-level IT managers.

Thus the new machines offer additions such as a preinstalled HP OpenView Configuration Management Agent and the availability of RAID (redundant array of independent disks) and HP backup and recovery software.

HP executives said it also sought to make the machines more secure by combining TPMs (or Trusted Platform Module 1.2) with its HP ProtectTools software for duties such as securing passwords. One of the new HP desktops also offers Intels vPro chip platform, which Intel has said will augment both manageability and security.

But, given that security and manageability features stretch across its new line of desktops, with the exception of vPro-equipped models, the biggest choice faced by some HP desktop customers may be in which processor vendor to chose.

Click here to read more about the imminent arrival of vPro.

HP will offer Intels Core 2 Duo chips in its HP Compaq Business Desktop dc5700 and dc7700 lines. The Core 2 Duo offers greater performance than its predecessor, the Intel Pentium D, and AMDs Athlon 64 X2, HP officials said.

The midrange dc5700 desktop will offer Core 2 Duo processors and Intels Q963 chip set with built-in graphics, in addition to Celeron D, Pentium 4 and Pentium D chips. The dc5700 also offers the HP ProtecTools suite for securing passwords and other login information along with creating an encrypted space on a PCs hard drive.

However, HP will also target large businesses with a new dc5750 desktop that offers AMDs Athlon 64 X2 chips alongside the same ProtectTools suite and a TPM 1.2 module.

The machine, which is based on ATI Technologies Radeon Xpress 1150 Professional chip set with built-in Radeon X300 graphics, also offers AMD Sempron and Athlon 64 processors.

Previously, HP positioned its AMD-based dx5150 desktop as a small and midsize business machine. But numerous corporations purchased the machine in large numbers, prompting HP to target larger enterprises with that machines predecessor, the dc5750, said Brian Schmitz, worldwide director of marketing for business desktops for HPs Personal Systems Group in Houston, Texas.

But where HP executives said Intels Core 2 Duo tops AMDs Athlon 64 X2 in performance, they said AMD makes up in value or performance for the price of a given processor.

For that reason, they said, AMD chips are likely to now be permanently in place in business PCs.

Undoubtedly, some customers may choose to go with Intel for the Core 2 Duos all-out performance or to gain advantages in manageability and security offered by vPro.

Next Page: Giving customers a choice.

Giving Customers a Choice

But, "things are never going to go back to the way they were [with Intel dominating] in the desktop space. The horses kind of did leave the barn already. What [AMD] has done is…make IT comfortable," he said.

"What [Core 2 Duo] didnt take way from AMD is the price/performance AMD offers."

HPs dc7700 desktop family, which features the Core 2 Duo and Q965 chip set, can be purchased with or without vPro. HP said that a bare-bones version of the machine, without vPro, will start at $643.

The desktop, which can also be ordered with a range of Intel Celeron D, Pentium 4, Pentium D processors, comes with HP ProtecTools, as well as software that enables full disk encryption software, using the TPM 1.2 module. The software is available on other HP models, but only as an add-on.

At the moment, HP estimates that somewhere between 30 and 60 percent of its dc7700 buyers will opt for vPro.

For those customers, HP will offer a variety of extra support. The company will offer an update for its OpenView Client Configuration Manager 2.0 that adds support for Intels Active Management Technology (AMT 2.0), the technology behind many of vPros features, for example.

The company will also offer other extras to increase manageability or smooth out deployment.

For one, HP also has expanded its free HP Client Manager centralized hardware management solution to identify and initialize PCs on corporate networks that feature embedded TPMs for quick and easy deployment of data protection across enterprises.

Its also offering a pre-provisioning service that works with customers to preset their PCs software while the machines are being rolled out by IT staff.

Aside from its new business desktops, HP also introduced the HP xw9400 workstation. The machine, which can accommodate up to two dual-core Opteron processors, two PCI-Express graphics cards, 64GB of memory and five hard drives, targets the high end of the desktop workstation market and rounds out HPs line of offerings for the space, HP executives said.

HP also launched a new line of widescreen flat panel displays on Sept. 6. Among them is a new 30-inch HP LP3065 model with a whopping 2,650 by 1,600 pixel resolution, HP executives said.

The display is designed to be used by companies running graphics-intensive applications such as ocean floor analysis, the executives said.

HP also announced on Sept. 6 that it has begun offering Intels Core 2 Duo processor for notebooks in several of its HP Compaq Business PC notebook families.

Among them are the HP Compaq 4400 series and 6300 series; the HP Compaq nc6400, nx7400, as well as the HP Compaq 8400 and 9400 series.

The company did not announce pricing for its dc5700 or dc5750 desktops, which it said would be available this fall.

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