Spring 2016

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45 Q2 2016 / CINEMONTAGE TECH TIPS WHICH WORKSTATION SHOULD YOU GET? Color graders, 3D animators and game developers have long relied on Windows workstations to do their work. Editors, on the other hand, have traditionally gravitated to the Macintosh platform. The times have a-changed, however; a comparison of the tech specs of a top-of-the-line Mac Pro and one from HP (the world's workstation leader) will reveal that HP workstations beat the Mac in almost every aspect. In addition, editing software such as Avid Media Composer, Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve are all available on the Windows platform, but that's nothing new. I've been using HP workstations to edit for years. Recently, I have heard from die-hard Mac enthusiasts (editors included) that their next machine won't be a Mac since they don't compete with the power you get on a Windows workstation. Making great phones and tablets are one thing, but professional workstations are another — an area to which HP is deeply committed. Let's take a look at some key machines that HP offers, starting with the top-of-the-line Z840. Along the way, we'll make some comparisons with the Mac. THE HP Z840: EXTREME POWER The top rated HP Z840 is a powerhouse of a machine with the muscle needed for the most intense challenges, whether they be high-resolution editing, 3D rendering or virtual reality (see Figure 1). Equipped with two E5-2600 v4 Xeon processors, the Z840 is now available with a jaw-dropping 44 physical cores (22 cores on each processor). Compare that with Mac Pro's single 12-core Xeon offering (dual Xeons are not available on the Mac). The new Xeons also support faster memory speeds of 2400 MHz, with a maximum of 1 TB of memory supported in the machine. In case you're wondering, the Mac Pro only supports 1866 MHz DDR3 memory with a maximum of 64 GB. For graphics, the HP Z840 features the latest GPU options from NVIDIA Quadro such as the top rated M6000 (as well as AMD FirePro). Know what's even better than an HP Z840 with an NVIDIA Quadro M6000 in it for VR? An HP with two Quadro M6000 cards. Now that sounds heavenly. The Mac Pro's only option is for AMD FirePro. Many workstation connoisseurs, however, consider NVIDIA's GPUs the best in the market, especially when it comes to VR. LET'S TALK TURBO The HP Z Turbo Drive is a PCIe-based hard drive solution powered by Samsung M.2 PCIe SSD technology that achieves ultra-fast speeds around four times faster than SSDs at a cost that is remarkably equivalent (see Figure 2). Z Turbo drives are now available with 1 TB of storage (previously 512 GB was the maximum). Adding one or two Z Turbo drives to your system is certainly a nice thing to do. However, HP recently introduced the HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro, which features four Z Turbo Drive modules on a single PCIe x16 card that only requires one slot (see Figure 3). Currently available with a maximum storage capacity of 2 TB, the Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro (when configured into a RAID) is four times faster than a single Z Turbo Drive and 16 times faster than an SSD. It's a great product and, in my opinion, a no brainer for those intending to work with high-resolution or VR footage. PCIe-based storage is also available on the Mac Pro, but there are no products from Apple like the HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro. In addition, the Mac Pro has no extra drive bays available in case you want to add more internal storage. However, the Mac Pro and the Z840 both have Thunderbolt 2 connections capable of delivering speeds of 20 GBps. THE HP Z240: PERFORMANCE AT THE ENTRY LEVEL If your needs are more modest, right beneath the Z840 is the HP Z640 and under that is the HP Z440 workstation. Both of those machines offer Xeon processors and speedy RAM and NVIDIA graphics. However, let's focus on HP's robust entry-level workstation, the HP Z240 (see Figure 4). The HP Z240's compact yet capable design features a 4-core Intel Xeon processor (or a 4-core i7 if you prefer), up to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM, and the ability to Figure 2, above left: The Z Turbo Drive is a PCIe-based, solid-state storage solution that offers four times the speed of an SSD drive. Figure 3, above: The Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro combines four Z Turbo Drives onto one PCIe card and can deliver speeds up to 16 times the speed of an SSD. Figure 4, bottom: The Z240 is HP's entry- level workstation and offers true workstation performance at PC-like prices.

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