Few of us probably thought about remote working before the pandemic forced most of us out of the office. True, some people found it more convenient to work from home, while others prefer to live ion exotic locales. However, perhaps the most important enabler for remote work was the advent of a fast internet which has completely changed, not only the way we work, but how software is delivered, the way we govern our social lives, how we get our news, entertainment and so on. In this article, we take a look at all of HP’s Z new workstation products.
HP’s Z line of products are aimed at professional creatives such as designers, animators, vfx artists and architects and the Z family includes some of the world’s most highly regarded workstations (mobile and desktop) as well as advanced, color accurate displays.
Now, HP has created a powerful remote collaboration and co-creation workflow for today’s hybrid work environment called HP ZCentral which works in tandem with Nvidia Omniverse. In addition, they have introduced exciting new workstations and displays that are perfect for high end creative work. We’ll take a look at all of it in this story.
ZCentral is a new remote solution that that provides tools that allow creatives to collaborate remotely, iterate through revisions and share their work in real-time from any environment. This is especially useful in today’s environment where, according to HP, more than eighty percent of companies are accelerating the adoption of collaborative applications for their workers, especially those working from home.
While HP is not new to remote collaboration technology (they’ve been working on it for years), recent developments have brought it to the forefront. The resulting technology is ZCentral which makes it easy for creators to take advantage of remote access to workstation power with ZCentral Remote Boost Software. In fact, this software is so powerful that it earned an Emmy Award. You can read that about here.
ZCentral allows filmmakers, animators, artists and engineers to collaborate in real-time from anywhere in the world. It also supports natural inking technology with enhanced Wacom displays and tablets making it a great tool for capturing ideas and conceptualizing projects.
In fact, for the new version of ZCentral, HP coupled with NVIDIA Omniverse, NVIDIA’s own realtime collaboration platform (based on Pixar’s Universal Scene Description and NVIDIA RTX) to provide multiple OS environments and hardware flexibility. The result is the ability to work in real-time across multiple programs (such as Unreal Engine, Adobe Substance and Autodesk Maya) to create and render 3D environments. That means you can compose a scene in a realtime engine like Unreal while other artists are working on its models and textures at the same time. In the past you would manually have to update everything in order to see the changes that were made by others, now you can magically watch as all the components of your scene are automatically updated as you work.
Since production is often a group effort, whether it’s for movies, television or games, ZCentral could be a key technology to enable effective collaboration and co-creation between team members wherever they may be. Maybe that is why the Television Academy deemed it worthy of an Emmy.
Earlier this Fall HP rolled out some interesting new workstation products such as the HP ZCentral 4R, a powerful and compact 1U rack workstation that was designed to be stacked up in your machine room or data closet. This is a perfect machine to use with ZCentral, as it functions great as a powerful remote workstation that can be accessed by advanced users anywhere.
The slim and sleek ZCentral 4R has an impressive memory capacity (up to 256 GB). It also has space for multiple GPUs and is certified for leading content creation apps. For processing, it supports up to an 18-core Intel Xeon W-series processor. There are also dual high-speed network connections as well as pro grade PCIe SSD storage options.
With the HP ZCentral 4R Workstation, you can line up a stack of them to provide remote workstations for your entire staff. Is this the production studio of the future, a stack of ZCentral 4Rs in a data closet with artists accessing them from wherever they might be in the world? I don’t know about you, but it sounds pretty good to me.
Also new this fall from HP is the HP Z2 Mini G5 workstation. I have reviewed the HP Z2 Mini in the past. This updated version provides even more high-end performance packed into an insanely small device that won’t take up much desk space and can even be mounted onto the back of a display. You can even throw it into a bag and take it with you when you go.
The new HP Z2 Mini supports a new Intel 10-core processor as well as NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 Graphics. That is a boost up from the last generation and a lot of power from such a small footprint.
HP has also been active on the mobile front with the introduction of the HP ZBook Fury 15 G7 Mobile Workstation, their most powerful 15” mobile workstation. The ZBook Fury 15 is a great machine for pretty much all kinds of projects including 3D animation, video editing, rendering and compositing.
The HP ZBook Fury 15 G7 features the latest Intel CPUs as well as powerful NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 or 5000 GPUs. According to HP, this PC thrives on heavy, multi-app workflows and is 12 percent smaller than the last gen. It’s got slots for 128 GB of RAM and capacity for up to 10TB local PCIel NVMe SSD fast storage.
For those who prefer a larger screen, there is the ZBook Fury 17 G7, also new from HP, that is 29 percent smaller than the last generation. Yet another option from HP that was introduced last September was the HP ZBook Power G7, a cost-conscious mobile workstation for those who wish to upgrade to professional ZBook performance at a very affordable price. The ZBook Power G7 supports Intel Xeon and Core i9 processors, 64 GB of memory NVIDIA Quadro 2000 graphics and dual 2TB M.2 SSDs.
September also saw the introduction of the HP Z2 Tower G5, HP’s powerful entry-level desktop tower workstation. If you are just starting out or are on a budget and don’t want to shell out the extra dollars for HP’s top-tier workstation towers (like the Z8), the HP Z2 Tower might be just what you’re looking for with NVIDIA Quadro RTX 6000 graphics and 10-core CPU processing.
The Z2 Tower G5 also allows for multiple video cards and comes with either Linux or Windows 10 operating systems installed. There is also HP Z2 Small Form Factor G5 workstation for those who prefer a more compact design than the tower.
While the workstations were introduced in September, HP’s new displays were rolled out a week ago. Specifically designed for creatives, there are two new DreamColor HDR monitors, the Z25xs G3 and the Z27xs G3 which deliver over a billion on-screen colors with color accuracy guaranteed out of the box.
HP’s DreamColor displays are specially designed for color accuracy and were originally developed with the input of DreamWorks. They are used for color correction, animation and other post-production tasks where accurate color is crucial. The new displays are Pantone validated with up to HDR 600 for greater contrast, deep rich blacks and vibrant colors. They also connect to your computer, PC or Mac, with a single USB-C cable. In addition, one-touch brightness makes it easy to change the brightness of the display depending on your needs.
In addition, there are six new Z core premium displays which may not be DreamColor, but nevertheless deliver high levels of color accuracy out of the box as well as ultra-thin profiles. These sleek and sexy displays offer a frameless viewing experience with a 82 percent thinner design than previous displays. There are a range of sizes up to 4k and they offer compatibility across devices with 199W USB-C power delivery.
IT managers will be pleased to learn that the new Z Displays come equipped with HP Display Manager, an end-point management solution for displays that allows for the monitoring, tracking and adjustment of a fleet of displays remotely.
HP makes a point that they continue to maintain a commitment to protect the environment by incorporating sustainably sourced materials for their Z products. The plastics in the Z Display portfolio consists of over 80 percent post-consumer and ocean bound plastics, while 75 percent of all aluminum content has been upcycled and the packaging is 100 percent sustainably sourced. According to HP, companies and creatives can maintain a commitment to protecting the environment without sacrificing pro-grade performance or sophisticated style.
From the remote collaboration tools of ZCentral to their new workstations and displays, HP has continued their legacy of bringing the creative and post-production community high performance and high value products to get their work done. Especially useful in this new, remote access environment we find ourselves in.