HP's revamped workstation strategy appears to approximate Dell's ability to deliver relatively customized machines. Rather than offer specific product configurations at set price points, HP will increase graphics and processor options within four general classes of PC workstations. HP has been locked in a duel with Dell over leadership in the PC workstation market, according to sources.
While increasing product options reduces distinctions between workstation models--and even workstations and high-end PCs--greater variety also allows customers to select a machine that more closely fits their needs, said Kathleen Tandy, North American product marketing manager for Kayak workstations at HP.
"We used graphics in the past to differentiate," she said, "We are doing away with that."
At the bottom of the price spectrum, HP will issue a new version of its entry-level XA workstation, a single-processor workstation containing a 350-MHz, 400-MHz, or 450-MHz Pentium II. The XA will be available with either the 2D Matrox G200 graphics subsystem or an entry-level 3D graphics subsystem from Elsa. Before, the XA came with a Matrox G100 system. XA prices start at $1,900.
Dual processing (workstations with two chips) will be available on both XAS and the XU models; the same range of processors and graphics subsystems that come on the XA will be available on these machines. The difference will come from greater expandability and computing horsepower.
The Kayak XW, by contrast, will come with either Xeon or Pentium II processors and be capable of running HP's Visualize graphics subsystem, which was adopted from HP's Unix workstations. Whether customers purchase machines with Xeon or Pentium II chips depends upon the application, Tandy said. Xeon adds only around five percent in performance on certain applications, while on other applications boosts of 15 to 20 percent have been seen.