celebratating 17 years of reporting
on the business of cad
Issue #733 | May 1, 2012
< Previous Issue | Next Issue >
In This Issue
1. Talking About the HP Z1 Workstation, Technically
2. Dell's New T-series Workstations
3. Out of the Inbox, and other regular columns.
Talking About the HP Z1 Workstation, Technically
Reader Steve Huffman last week reminded us of Sun Microsystems' all-in-one from 1990, and wondered if HP's execs were too young to remember it when branding their new Z1 as the "first all-in-one workstation." Mike Diehl is product marketing manager of HP's workstation global business unit, and he remembers his history, such as the all-in-one from HP 1981 with a 7" display that sold for $9000.
upFront.eZine: What about the 27" iMac all-in-one -- isn't it a workstation?
Mr Diehl: It's not defined as a workstation, as defined by IDC research firm and others.
upFront.eZine: How do you define a 'workstation', as opposed to a regular desktop computer?
Mr Diehl: Workstations are designed for mission-critical applications, meant for 24/7/365 operation and no downtime. They contain professional components [instead of consumer grade ones], like:
upFront.eZine: Where did the idea for the Z1 come from?
Mr Diehl: We began thinking about the Z1 a long time ago. Customers not asking for an all-in-one, but we saw their workspaces are getting smaller -- even for our smallest workstation tower, the Z210. We based the Z1 on the components of the Z210, and so the performance is the same. No one before has put a Xeon CPU, RAID [redundant array, independent disks] storage, and 32GB RAM in an all-in-one.
upFront.eZine: Do you see all-in-ones replacing towers?
Mr Diehl: All-in-ones don't provide as much expandability, so we don't see the towers going away. The Z1 is meant for entry or mid-level CAD or digital entertainment; it is not meant for high end analysis or digital editing.
upFront.eZine: How did HP handle the problem of heat in the small chassis of the Z1?
Mr Diehl: Heat removal was a primary design consideration. The narrow form factor is a challenge, and professional components generate more heat. The Z1 has four cooling zones using HP-designed cooling systems. These are made from six fans of the largest diameter possible to turn at slower speeds to reduce noise. The fans are controlled by nine thermal sensors, so that fans turn only as fast as needed.
upFront.eZine: The specs say a second monitor can be added, but imply only HP monitors can be attached?
Mr Diehl: Any monitor that works with DisplayPort can be used, not just those from HP. The DisplayPort connector is unique, in that it handles automatically detects input or output. Another computer use the Z1 as an external monitor. We supply a wireless mouse and keyboard with the system, but you can use anyone else's through corded USB or wireless dongle.
The Z1 began shipping on April 16, and has a starting price of $1,900. http://www.hp.com/united-states/campaigns/workstations/z1_features.html
Dell's New T-series Workstations
In the week after HP released the first 27" all-in-one workstation and days before Intel announced its next generation of "Ivy Bridge" CPU/GPU chips, Dell invited computer journalists from around the world to its Precision Workstation media event. We had high hopes for seeing exciting new technology. Which were dashed.
What we saw were four redesigned workstations with specs that were predictably better. The four are handsome beasts, all straight lines in black and aluminum. The top three machines seat one or two Xeon CPUs, the bottom-of-the-line T1560 model running an Ivy Bridge CPU, of which we were told nothing.
Nevertheless, the top-of-the-line T7600 has impressive specs, impressive enough that a representative from Intel told us this model is as powerful at the top supercomputer from just six years ago. The T7600 seats one or two Xeon CPUs, each with eight cores. There are enough slots to place 512GB of ECC RAM and insert three graphics boards, along with sufficient bays for eight drives -- all driven by a 1300W power supply. The starting price is $2,149, and I place the emphasis on starting. I imagine full fitted out, this sucker runs ten or twenty thousand bucks.
Dell representatives were especially pleased to point out that the power supply and all drives could be pulled from the front of the machine; through not hot-swapable, unfortunately. To accommodate this, the motherboard is centered inside the box, electronics on one side, drives on the other. Plastic covers cover the spare CPU and RAM slots to help smooth the air flow. The top comes off, should you wish to slide the T7600 into a rack.
I should point out that the "three" graphics boards are limited to one nVidia Quadro 6000 and up to two Tesla C2075 boards. Then there were two more unique features that Dell was proud to point out: Reliable Memory Technology (keeps track of, and disables, RAM memory spots that generate errors), and the dip in the top of the case for holding your cell phone.
Even though Dell's primary competitor is HP (#1 in workstation sales), the marketing staff aimed their guns on Apple. In an introductory video and throughout the presentation, Dell hammered the unreliability of Mac hardware and in particular of Final Cut Pro X software.
So, after the 1.5-hour event, we all flew home again. For 2012, Dell has nice looking desktop workstations that run faster than last year's lineup at a slightly higher price.
[Disclosure: Dell paid for my air fare, ground transportation, hotel accommodation, and some meals.]
Republished with permission from CADdigest.com.
CADWorx 2013 is the latest release of the CADWorx Plant Design Suite for intelligent modeling and P&IDs.
CADWorx is now easier than ever to use and helps you design faster and more accurately. The best AutoCAD-based plant design system just got better!
Out of the Inbox
The Revit Technology Conference is taking place in Sydney, Australia towards the end of May -- as well as in Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA in late June. http://revitconference.com.au. I am excited to announce that I'll be reporting from Australia on RTC for all four days. The flight is booked, and I arrive Tuesday morning May 22, and fly home the following Sunday evening, May 27. The conference itself runs Wed-Sat.
Christopher Boothroyd writes, "I've moved on from Aftercad to new opportunities. You can find me selling hotdogs downtown Vancouver or here at neverdullventures.com."
May 1 is the anniversary of upFront.eZine's launch in 1995, and tomorow it turns 17 years. Readers support this newsletter through their subscriptions, by writing letters, and by making a donation. If you could support upFront.eZine financially and if you can afford it, then the donation amount I suggest is $25. You can make by cheque, money order, cash, or PayPal. Some corporations have dozens or hundreds of subscribers. If you are in the position to authorize a single payment on behalf of fellow employees, I am happy to provide you with the exact number of subscribers from your company.
Donating by PayPal:
1. Log into http://www.PayPal.com
2. Click on the Send Money tab.
3. To: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Fill in the Amount, and then choose 'Service/Other'.
5. Click Send Money.
Donating by Mail
My bank accepts cheques and money orders in US$, CDN$, Euros, and British Pounds. Send your mail to the following address:
upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.
34486 Donlyn Avenue
V2S 4W7 Canada
Thank you for supporting upFront.eZine with your donation! (The donation is completely voluntary; there is never any obligation to pay to read upFront.eZine.)
On Our Blogs
These were some of the news items that were posted during the last week at our WorldCAD Access blog <worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
Letter to the Editor
"You wrote, 'Lessee: AutoCAD, yes; SolidWorks, no. How embarassing is that?' Apparently you were not at SolidWorks World this January when it was announced that SolidWorks 2012 SP5 would support reading SolidWorks 2013 files. While this is not full compatibility across all versions, name a solid modeling package other than Catia and SolidWorks that offers even this level of version compatibility.
"Of course AutoCAD supports backward compatibility: it is an 80s technology 2D drafting program that hasn't had any significant enhancements since Rev 13. Or are you suggesting that Inventor also has full backwards compatibility so that your comment accurately compares solid modeling package to solid modeling package?"
- David Schaller, P.E.
The editor replies: "DS SolidWorks did not invite me to their San Diego love-in. As for AutoCAD, I think you might be surprised at some of the enhacements since Release 13."
"I would like to make a simple comment about cloud computing. I remember the days of mainframes. When you needed something from the computer, you had to schedule your time. You also had to face the center of the computer and pray three times a day to the almighty computer gurus who sat upon their thrones and passed out favors like the old Viking gods. If you displeased them, they would smote you and you programs and information would disappear in to the Asgard bit heaven. Of course, Loki was always on the loose and his little mischievous mind could always come up with something to make you smile. His favorite was to place a looping sheet feed so it would print out tons of paper and the last page would print with only one line on it.
"My point is this, I like Dropbox. The data is still on my personal system and I can always access it without having an intervening mass storage area. Case in point: AT&T went down in our area for about 42 hours after a storm. The internet was gone. The priority for restoration was (1) corporate, (2) commercial, (3) schools ( I am ok with this) and (4) residential. Because more people are working at home these days, I would have been screwed by this outage using the cloud. The cloud did not fail, just the internet connection.
"Slow days with heavy traffic (like during March Madness) makes it almost impossible to work over the internet unless you have a private T1 line. I think the cloud is an OK idea, but I would not put mission critical data out there and use it as the only place of storage. During the outage I worked on the files stored locally and when it finally came back on Dropbox sync'ed up and all was well with the world.
"I do not like the idea of paying someone to backup and store MY DATA. I have performed that task for 25 years and have not lost any data from my backups yet. As for security, my backups are internet free. No virsus's, or invasive spying."
- Joseph M. Liston
The editor replies: "ISPs and telephone companies say the last mile is the hardest. In these cloud-obsessed days, it would appear that now it's the first mile that's the most difficult.
"I appreciate the annual reminder, Ralph, and just sent $25 via Paypal. I know how much work is involved in producing a weekly publication filled with original content, especially for an independent publisher, and want to show my support."
- Nancy Spurling Johnson, editor-in-chief
"For Microsoft, we have all the security response team's addresses. We don't know the antivirus group inside Apple."
- Boris Sharov, ceo Dr. Web, discoverer of 600,000 infected Mac computers
upFront.eZine is published every Tuesday, except during summer and Christmas vacation. Editor: Ralph Grabowski. This newsletter is read by 11,000 subscribers in 70 countries. Your comments are welcome at email@example.com! Deadline for submissions is every Monday noon.
Send the message 'subscribe upfront' to firstname.lastname@example.org. All 700+ back issues at www.upfrontezine.com/welcome.htm.
Donations & Subscriptions
upFront.eZine is shareware. You receive this newsletter free. To support its publication, suggested one-time donations is US$25 or the equivalent in your country. If you prefer to pay an annual subscription fee of $25, you will be reminded each year around May 1.
- PayPal - send payment to the account of email@example.com
- Checks or money orders: 34486 Donlyn Avenue, Abbotsford BC, V2S 4W7, Canada.
- Direct bank transfer: email for details.
Send both your old and new email addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send the message 'unsubscribe upfront' to email@example.com. I appreciate knowing reasons for unsubscribing.
US$340 per two weeks. Wanted ads by the unemployed are free. Other rates available. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- - -
Entire contents copyright 2012 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $250 and up. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "WorldCAD Access" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.