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HP Wields Blade Workstations For Mechanical CAD

The hardware includes an advanced network software utility that allows designers working in 2-D or 3-D environments to work over a standard network.

Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday unveiled a new blade workstation specifically for designers who live in the 3-D world of mechanical computer-aided design, or MCAD.

Similar to a Blade PC and based on its HP BladeSystem infrastructure, the latest workstation can be configured with one or two high-speed Intel Xeon dual-core or quad-core processors and a dedicated Nvidia FX 1600M hardware graphics card.

HP already has tested and certified some of the latest MCAD applications such as Computer Aided Three Dimensional Interactive Application (CATIA) , Siemens UGS NX, PTC Pro/Engineer, Autodesk AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks, and MicroStation -- as well as related applications such as Autodesk Revit -- to make sure it computes and renders the desktop image correctly.

To allow remote offices to share their designs more effectively, HP's blade software includes HP Remote Graphics Software (RGS). The network software utility lets MCAD designers working in 2-D or 3-D environments to work over a standard network.

The architecture provides interactive remote access to HP workstation-class computing and visualization power as well as high-speed, encrypted image transfer through standard LAN, WAN, or VPN connections to thin client devices, Microsoft Windows-based workstations, PCs, or notebooks, the company said.

"Centralizing computing power in the data center and allowing remote access from most any location can allow engineers to improve collaboration with their peers and clients, creating optimal levels of productivity and security while reducing overall IT costs," Jeff Groudan, VP of marketing for HP's desktop solutions group, said in a statement.

HP's latest blade endeavor is helping fuel an IT community ready to shift to slimmer and more energy efficient servers and workstations.

Global blade-server shipments are expected to nearly quadruple by 2011, driven by the young technology's advantages in flexibility, power savings, and simplified manageability, according to market research firm iSuppli's estimates.

Worldwide shipments are expected to rise to 2.4 million units in 2011 from 620,000 in 2006. Those numbers translate into a compound annual growth rate of 31.5%. By 2011, blades are expected to account for nearly 21.6% of all server shipments.

The current battlefield of blade-server vendors is small and midsize businesses, which have significant volume potential. Market leaders HP and IBM have tailored specific platforms to meet those requirements.

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