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HP does 3D graphics workstations

Hewlett-Packard brings powerful 3D graphics, the strong suit of Unix workstations, to Windows NT systems.

Powerful 3D graphics, the strong suit of Unix workstations, were brought to Windows NT systems by Hewlett-Packard (HWP) at Siggraph 97 today.

HP previewed a new line of NT workstations that incorporate an HP graphics board derived from a 3D board used in the company's high-end Unix workstations.

The new workstations, which will come out this fall, cost between $9,000 to $20,000, more than NT systems now on the market, said Dave DuPont, worldwide product marketing manager for performance desktops at HP. But while more expensive, the new machines are more capable.

In a departure from typical NT workstations, they run industrial-strength 3D graphics applications that usually require Unix machines costing upward of $100,000.

The new workstations contain Pentium II processors, according to a company release, which is another first for HP in workstations. And in yet another first, the systems support Intel's Accelerated Graphics Port technology. This is a high-speed 3D graphics connection expected to appear in high-end PCs and workstations later in the year.

"This is aimed at architects and animators, the mechanical design world," DuPont said.

The workstations are a cross-pollination of HP's high- and low-end technologies. The high-performance Visualized graphics board, to be used in the workstations, is derived from HP's Unix workstations and contains two PA-RISC 8000 processors.

The growth of NT in the workstation arena has been one of the major issues for business computing in the past year. HP and others started releasing NT workstations last year. Although not as powerful as Unix machines in some important respects, the NT workstations are less expensive, and that price advantage has led to growing market share.

As a result, companies such as Sun Microsystems (SUNW) have begun to deemphasize their lower-end workstations, according to analysts and Sun executives, or tried to come up with cost-cutting technology to meet NT machines on price.