All in all, the Z600 is a fine workstation with room enough to grow. My borrowed unit sports a pair of Intel Xeon X5670 2.93GHz Westmere CPUs, 12GB of DDR3-1333MHz ECC RAM, an Nvidia Quadro FX3800 GPU, a 500GB SATA 7,200-rpm drive that boots 64-bit Windows 7 Professional, and a 1TB SATA 7,200-rpm drive for data. The Z600 has a slot-loading DVD+/-RW drive, three FireWire 1394a card slots (two rear, one front), and a ridiculous number of USB ports (three front, six rear). For me, the only thing missing is an SDHC memory card slot on the front. It would also be nice to have at least one disk drive available from the front for hot swapping.
[ Intel's latest chips revolutionize the workstation market. See InfoWorld's reviews of Dell, HP, and Lenovo systems in "Nehalem workstations: A new era in performance." ]
Also noteworthy in my loaner is HP's SkyRoom videoconferencing solution. SkyRoom combines the best of Microsoft's now-defunct NetMeeting and the aging Remote Desktop Client into a modern package designed to meet the remote collaboration needs of engineers. At CES I saw a demonstration of SkyRoom in which an ordinary laptop shared a 3-D CAD drawing with a workstation. Now I must point out that the demo systems were back to back on a local network, but the spinning propeller of the radial engine simulation displayed on the two computers were perfectly in sync. SkyRoom is a huge improvement over RDP or NetMeeting in terms of system requirements. All you need is a Windows system with a 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo CPU or better and at least 2GB of RAM, and even fancy 3-D renderings are delivered in real time for what felt like seamless collaboration.
My video setup at HotStage: A Sony PD-170 prosumer camera connected to the Z600 via the front-accessible FireWire 400 port. The Z600's audio ports are software-assignable for input or output. Just plug in a device, and the audio control panel will prompt you to identify the type of gear.
A closer look, with the HP LP2475w wide-screen monitors flanking the Blue Microphone "Yeti" USB microphone I use for voiceovers.
Windows Task Manager shows Westmere's 24 threads during an Adobe Premiere Pro video rendering process. Premiere Pro only uses half of them.
An inside view of the Z600 showing the two Westmeres hidden by heat sinks and the two banks of three DIMM slots.
No tools are required to open the case. Note the two SATA drive trays in the foreground.
No tools are required to remove the power supply either. Note the Nvidia Quadro FX3800 in the foreground.
This story, "First look: HP Z600 workstation with twin Westmeres," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in servers, processors, and other hardware at InfoWorld.com.