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Workstations get booster shot

Hewlett-Packard launches its line of personal workstations using Intel Pentium Pro processors Monday, giving this new category of PCs a major shot in the arm.

Hewlett-Packard announced its first line of personal workstations today featuring high-end 3D graphics and dual 200-MHz Pentium Pro processor configurations running on Windows NT.

Personal workstations are a hybrid of relatively low-cost PC technology and high-performance workstation-level processing power and generally use Intel Pentium Pro processors and the Windows NT operating system. CNET reported the new line of workstations last week.

Traditional workstations run the Unix OS, use RISC processors, and are often priced well above $10,000. At the high end, traditional workstations command prices as high as $30,000 to $40,000.

HP's new Vectra XW personal workstations will range in price between $8,250 and $12,400.

A system with one 200-MHz Pentium Pro processor, an AccelPRO TX 2500 3D graphics accelerator, 256KB of four-way associated write back level 2 cache, 64MB of error-checking and correcting RAM, and a 2GB SCSI-2 hard drive is priced at $8,249.

For $12,336, a user gets essentially the same configuration but with a whopping 192MB of ECC RAM.

One of the most outstanding features is the Vectra's optimization for dual processing and its ability to run multitasking and multithreaded applications. In the animation market, applications such as Autodesk's 3D Studio MAX or Softimage 3D 3.5 take advantage of dual processing for CPU-intensive tasks such as final rendering, the company said.

The AccelPRO TX 2500 3D graphics accelerator provides 24-bit true color in 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution or 16-bit color in 1,280-by-1,024 resolution with double buffering for high-speed viewing and rendering at full-screen resolution. Acceleration is provided for typical OpenGL operations, such as Gouraud shading, texture mapping, 24-bit Z-buffer, anti-aliasing, alpha-blending, overlay and stencil plans.

Other highlights include:
--ECC DIMM Memory: DIMMS create a 128-bit-wide memory path, offering an overall 10 percent increase in performance. Data integrity is achieved through the use of ECC memory.
--Integrated Ultra SCSI: An Ultra SCSI controller is embedded on the system motherboard, providing 20MB/sec throughput and support of existing SCSI peripherals.
--LAN Connectivity: An autosensing 10Base-T/100Base-T HP DeskDirect PCI network interface card is integrated with the HP Vectra XW personal workstation.
--Integrated Audio: An integrated SoundBlaster-16-compatible audio processor; built-in speaker is also included.
--Windows NT: Windows NT 3.51 is bundled. A coupon also is included for a free upgrade to Windows NT 4.0.