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Got cores? HP has up to 12 for your desktop

HP today announced it will offer a high-end workstation with one or two of AMD's new six-core Opteron processors, codenamed "Istanbul," for its HP xw9400 tower PC workstations.

Just recently AMD updated the series to run the quad-core Shanghai processor, and it's socket-compatible with Istanbul, so if you own one of these beasts and are good with a screwdriver, it's just a processor and BIOS upgrade.

The move from four to six core processors means a 34 percent improvement in performance per watt, according to HP, and a pretty good boost in overall performance with some of the newer equipment. Like previous generations, this new version supports up to 32GB of memory.

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The Istanbul-based xw9400 features HyperTransport 3.0 technology to increase interconnect rates from 2 gigatransfers per second (GT/s) to a maximum 4.8 GT/s. The HP xw9400 can be configured with the ATI FirePro V7750 3-D workstation graphics accelerator instead of the nVidia Quadro card, which came in previous generations.

The HP xw9400 Workstation is registered as an Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Gold product, the highest rating available. The power supply is rated 80 PLUS, which is considerably more efficient than a standard power supply in terms of overall energy usage and the amount of waste heat.

Clearly not designed for running Office productivity apps, this kind of workstation is used in high-end applications like engineering, 3D digital content creation, oil and gas, and other science-related projects.

It might even be able to run Crysis.*

The HP xw9400 Workstation starts at a U.S. list price of $1,899 (although it scales up very fast as you add components) and is available now.

(* A running joke among gamers. The game Crysis is so system resource-intense that many rigs weren't able to play it. A long-running gag on Internet forums when discussing hardware is "But can it play Crysis?" People say that about everything from the iPhone to a supercomputer.)

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