HP Updates Blade Workstation Offering

The HP xw460c is geared for users in the computer-aided design field.

Hewlett-Packard is beefing up its blade workstation offering by adding more choices of Intel quad- and dual-core processors as well as Nvidia graphics.

The ProLiant xw460c Blade Workstation is specifically geared toward the MCAD (mechanical computer-aided design) market, which requires a powerful computing system to render 2-D and 3-D graphics and to support the types of applications needed by users.

The updated blade workstation can support one or two Intel Xeon processors. HP is offering the choice of quad-core Xeons from the 45-nanometer family, with clock speeds running from 2GHz to 3.16GHz, and older dual- and quad-core Xeon models from the 65-nm line with clock speeds ranging from 3GHz on the high end to 1.6GHz on the lower end.

The OEM is also offering a choice of the newer Nvidia Quadro FX1600M graphics processor and the Quadro FX560M graphics chip. The system uses an Intel 5000P chip set.

Blades continue to be the hot part of the server market. In February, IDC found that blades generated about $1.2 billion in revenue for vendors during the fourth quarter of 2007, an increase of more than 54 percent year-over-year. Of the major vendors, HP and IBM continue to dominate this slice of the market, controlling about 75 percent of the revenue combined.

IBM also has a competing blade workstation product-the HC10-although it uses older Xeon processors and offers less memory: 8GB of DDR (double data rate), compared with the 32GB that HP packed into the xw460c.

In addition to the hardware features, HP is offering its Remote Graphics Software, which allows for better graphics capabilities and will let users tap into the blade from a remote location through a network connection.

The system also supports a number of operating systems, including Microsoft Windows and Red Hat Linux. In addition, HP has certified the blade to support a number of computer-aided design applications, such as CATIA, Siemens UGS NX, PTC Pro/ENGINEER, Autodesk AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks and MicroStation.