RealTime IT News

HP Blades The Workstation

HP is laying claim to an industry first - a workstation in a blade format.

The HP ProLiant Blade Workstation Solution is designed to give the same benefits as other so-called thin client systems, namely that it moves the processing and storage components off the desktop and into the data center. Users can access files and applications from a thin client device or Microsoft Windows-based workstations, PCs and notebooks.

HP said the new blade is aimed at financial trading, public sector, and manufacturing industries beyond traditional workstation markets such as CAD/CAM or engineering. "This solution isn't for everyone. We have a strong core workstation business we're not trying to replace," Dan Nordhues, director of product marketing for blade workstations at HP, told internetnews.com.

Also, customers can expect to pay a premium over more traditional workstations. Nordues said the added cost comes from the rack enclosure and related infrastructure costs. The HP Blade Workstation starts at a list price of $6,400 in single quantities or, in volume, $4,900 for blade, support and blade infrastructure costs. The thin client hardware ranges from $650 to $850 or $450 to $650 in volume plus $100 for Receiver software.

Analyst Rob Enderle said in the markets HP is going after, the extra cost shouldn't be a barrier.

"Trading floors are very motivated to get the heat and complexity of their systems lowered," Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group, told internetnews.com. "Some of these traders have as many as six workstations each and that generates a lot of heat. And if one of them goes down, they have to send a tech out to look at it, whereas a blade solution is centrally managed."

And Enderle agrees with HP's decision not to focus on traditional engineering markets. "The average engineer wants to plug stuff in, this is not very flexible solution in that sense."

The AMD 2.6 Ghz Opteron-based blade also includes a high end nVidia graphics chip and HP-developed Remote software for communicating with the thin client. "We can do 2- and 3-D graphics and animation unlike any other remote paradigm out there today," said Nordues. "The customer doesn't have to give up the workstation experience they've come to expect."

Although today is the official launch, HP has been testing the blade solution with customers for several months.

London-based Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets recently customized its 255-postion trading floor with 280 HP ProLiant xw25p Blade Workstations. The devices are used by traders in the foreign exchange, derivatives, and global commodities markets, as well as by sales traders in the derivatives and interest rate trading markets.

"We were looking for something that was going to give a market edge to our traders, and for us, the HP Blade Workstation delivered on that," said Colin Everett, head of IT strategy and infrastructure, Financial Markets, Lloyds TSB.