HP, Lenovo Jump on Intel's Penryn

Workstation designs from HP, Lenovo and proposals from Dell, indicate that Intel is setting the pace for computing, says an analyst.

Hewlett-Packard announced Nov. 7 it will begin offering two high-end workstations—the xw6600 and the xw8600—in December based on the new dual- and quad-core Penryn family of 45-nanomter processors.

HP's announcement, coupled with workstation news that Lenovo and Dell would incorporate the new Penryn processors, validates the concept that Intel is setting the pace for computing with top-tier OEMs ready to follow.

OEMs are jumping on Penryn fast. The two new HP workstations are both dual-socket models that will allow them to support up to eight processing cores. The xw6600 and the xw8600 are each expected to hit the market by mid-December. Lenovo is also rolling out a dual-socket model, the ThinkStation DC10, which will begin selling in January at a starting price of $1,739 and Dell has signaled that it will begin reworking its workstation lineup later this year with new single- and dual-socket models that support the latest Intel processors as well.

At the 2007 Intel Developer Forum in September, executives said the new Penryn processors were ready to ship in November and the first areas that Intel will target would be the server, high-end desktop and workstation market with chips for traditional desktop PCs and laptops to follow.

"The industry moves in cadence with Intel and, so far, Intel has done a pretty good job of letting the vendors know what to expect from their road map," said Leslie Fiering, an analyst with Gartner.

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While the HP and Lenovo workstations offer several similar features, including dual- and quad-core Penryn processors and Nvidia graphics cards, including the Quadro FX4600, the starting prices typically reflect the most basic configurations for each model. A check of both the Lenovo and HP Web sites show the new models, but the sites do not currently give users the ability to configure the workstations, which makes more comprehensive comparison difficult until both systems officially hit the market late this year and in 2008.

In addition to Penryn processors and Nvidia graphics cards, the new HP system each offer Intel's 5400 chip set and a pair of second generation PCI Express x16 slots. The xw6600 offers up to 32GB of DDR2 (double data rate 2) RAM and a choice of either SATA (serial ATA) or SAS (serial-attached SCSI) hard disk drives that when fully configured offer up to 3TB of data capacity. The xw8600 offers up to 128GB of DDR2 RAM and a hard disk drive capacity of up to 5TB.

HP will also offer both Microsoft Windows XP and Vista operating systems as well as 64-bit Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS 4.

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