Most Engineers and Graphics Artists choose HP Workstations as their Performance Rig to complete their tasks. It's always good to have the chance to get the latest HP Workstation or even HP Mobile Workstation. Before investment is made, mostly lots of discussions are being conducted along with IT departments or IT Support, to select which system that meets the demand and requirements of day-to-day jobs. However, some IT tech supports are also responsible to keep the HP Workstation at its peak performance to keep the deadline met, aside from the users themself.
This article, will try to help most HP Workstation existing customers and even potential customers, to have clearer reference on how to get the most out of your next HP Workstation investment.
New HP Workstation/Mobile Workstation Unit
When it comes to make a new investment for HP Workstation/Mobile Workstation, the investment could come to 2 things:
Being in the industry for 2 decades and mostly assisting the customers to get to their final decision, major customers would have plan to have new complete systems periodically. Only few of them upgraded the memory and storage capacity. They have their main reasons why they need to have constant systems swap. Some of it are:
1. CPU (Central Processing Unit)
High-end and Extreme Performing HP Workstation could consist not just a single CPU within a box, but dual CPU with multi-cores each. Workstation such as HP Z620 and HP Z820, can hold 2 processors with up to 24-physical cores in total. Applications that support multi-cores CPU will have huge benefits on productivity in using it.
Latest CPU generation will also deliver higher and much better performance. In the real world, we did some benchmark tests on 2 different systems: HP Z800 Workstation and HP ZBook 15. The Z800 is already 3 years old system, and ours is equipped with 2 processors. The review of HP Z800 is here. In contrary to the size. HP ZBook is the latest HP Mobile Workstation with Intel 4th Gen Haswell Processor. Our review of the ZBook 15 is here. Surprisingly for some people, the HP ZBook 15 is faster than the HP Z800. One of few reasons is that the ZBook 15 is powered by Intel's latest processor, even it's only driven by 1 CPU, compares to 2 CPUs inside the HP Z800. Imagine that you're bringing along an extreme powerhouse in a mobile computing unit form factor.
So, in this example, using latest generation CPU could benefit users in solving multiple tasks and simulations at the same time.
However, having the highest rank CPU may not be the best choice as the drawback would be on its cost.
Try to have mid-to-2nd best class CPU to have the most out of CPU investment. For instance, when your company decide to go with HP Z820, there are series of processors available to select. In this example, your company is an engineering company using SolidWorks and Rhinoceros. Some CPU options would be:
I would personally recommend customers to have dual Intel Xeon E5-2640 should they have budget constraints. The choice would be the most economical option in HP Z820. The Xeon E5-2640 has mid-high end clock speed at 2.5GHz, yet it contains 6 cores in a CPU. Using 2 CPUs, you can obtain total of 12 cores at an affordable price. In then end, everything is about budget availability.
2. Memory (RAM)
Mostly, the amount of memory selection is based on the application being used by users. Application developers deliver general recommendation of the amount of memory for minimum RAM requirements and recommended amount of RAM. It would be wise to go with the recommended one, but also add some more space just in case you would perform a multi-tasking and multi-applications operation at the same time.
If you have an application that recommends you to have 16GB of memory/RAM, try to have some more room on the final RAM configuration on your HP Workstation. Having 24GB or even 32GB would be the best choice, specially when you're going to have several applications loaded at the same time. For instance, if you tell your HP Workstation to calculate a simulation, and you don't want to stop working on your workstation, then you open up an office application as well as some light image manipulations, you will need more than the recommended RAM configuration. By having 24GB or even 32GB, you will get more space to keep on working in the multi-tasking environment. Furthermore, by using HP Performance Advisor, you could manually assign how many cores to perform the simulation, and assign some particular cores to do the office and image manipulation application, without having a slowing-down or jittering system. HP Performance Advisor will automatically assign the size of memory required by the assigned cores.
There are 3 available types of drives being commonly used in HP Workstation, today.
SATA, which already have come to 6Gb/s generation (SATA-III) is the most common choice as storage solution in a workstation, because of its price-performance aspect. Most SATA drives for HP Workstation are having 7,200RPM while few configs could select 10,000RPM that will deliver higher performance. However, price of the SATA drives are just a fraction of the whole HP Workstation. TBs of storage can easily be populated into an HP Workstation without having excess investment, using SATA drives.
SAS drives deliver excellent in both read and write performance while having choices of 10,000RPM up to 15,000RPM. SAS drives could perform much better than SATA drives because the larger the capacity inside SAS drives, the more discs/plates it's using. Therefore a single read/write operation can be performed simultaneously on all discs, resulting shorter completion time.
SSD have become popular because the cost per GB is getting more reasonable and affordable. SSD performance in reading/writing the data is way faster than SATA drives. This leads to faster boot and application loading time.
In order to get the most out of the investment on storage, you could combine the SSD with SATA or SAS drives. As you put SSD as your main boot and applications drive (it doesn't have to be massive capacity; space between 120GB to 256GB should be enough, depends on your application installation requirements), you could have 2 SATA or SAS drives as your data drives and configure the SATA/SAS drives as RAID 0. RAID 0 configuration will take at least 2 drives and stripe the data across the striped drives. The performance will increase significantly. Some practical benchmark test were performed and you could find the information, here.
3D and multimedia application these days will get substantial benefits in using professional graphics such as Nvidia Quadro and AMD FirePro. They are optimized, tested and certified by all leading CAD/CAM/CAE and Multimedia applications.
Selecting a well balanced graphics card with your CPU is an important thing that will bring up the productivity at its peak rate. An entry level graphics card will have difficulties to catch up with mid-range to high-end CPU with expectation to solve complex simulation tasks.
A mid-range to high-end graphics card can have well-balanced load distributed across multiple displays. The using of multiple-displays has become quite a necessity in engineering and multimedia environments. User can work on multiple windows opened at the same time and looking at them simultaneously.
In some cases, GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) can also assist in accelerating intensive computing tasks such as simulation and rendering. Applications that support this computing method through CUDA Compute or even OpenCL can carry out the computing tasks inside the GPU, resulting shorter processing time relatively to CPU.
Selecting which graphics card can be a bit tricky. Graphics card consists of GPU as the main graphics processing unit and the graphics memory. Again, selecting higher end graphics that recommended by the application would be the best thing to do. A table shown below will have general information about how much graphics memory consumed by an engineering application while in operation.
5. Recommended and Acknowledged Vendor
This would be another critical thing to execute your decision. A vendor with broad knowledge on how to customize and select the proper configuration of HP Workstation will ease your load a lot. And it will ensure that your investment would not be "wasted" on sudden upgrades and unnecessary hassles. Sentra Grafika Kompumedia has been focusing on delivering highest quality workstation since early 90's and has become a preferred source for HP Workstation for the last decade in Indonesia because of its expertise in relation with engineering and multimedia application.
Consult your needs for your next HP Workstation with us, and we will give and find you a clear understanding on your investment plan on it. Again, this will secure your future investment and protect users in avoiding any improper configuration. Join the club, like most of our satisfied customers, in having HP Workstations. And the numbers are significantly growing.
Bimo Adi Prakoso, founder of Sentra Grafika Kompumedia, is an engineering-animation-broadcast industry professional and workstation evangelist. He's been in the Workstation industry since 1996, the era of SGI.