HP adds new model to PC workstation lineup

Hewlett-Packard Co. has introduced a new midrange Kayak PC workstation and refreshed two existing Kayak models with faster Intel Corp. processors and the new 440BX chipset.

The new addition to the Kayak line, the XA-s, is a higher-end version of the XA model. The XA-s, available in desktop and minitower configurations, is targeted at who HP calls "budget conscious" users who do financial modeling, desktop publishing, software development, 2-D design and digital content creation, said Denis Bournival, technical program manager at HP.

"The XA-s fills what we would call the mainstream PC workstation space, and 's' stands for scalable," Bournival said.

The XA-s borrows many manufacturing techniques from the XA and has a list price of $2,200. General Services Administration prices have not been announced. The main difference is that the XA runs on a single processor, while the XA-s scales to two processors. It comes with either 350 MHz or 400 MHz Intel Pentium II processors as well as the 440BX chipset, which increases the speed with which data moves between the central processor and other system components.

Dual processors distribute the workload and speed up "multithreaded" applications, in which the operating system executes different parts of a program simultaneously. Graphics-intense computing— such as the terrain mapping programs used in military simulation and the mapping of lakes, parks and other territories done by the U.S. Geological Survey— often require dual-processor workstations, Bournival said.

Kayaks will appear on GSA schedule through resellers within 10 days and on the NASA Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement II contract in the near future, said Alan Lawrence, manager of strategic programs for HP.

Current users of other dual-processor Kayak workstations will find the XA-s brings them an alternative that is about $1,000 less expensive, Lawrence said.

"We are getting a lot of replacement business where customers are replacing low-end [Silicon Graphics Inc.] machines," Lawrence said. "They are looking at the price/performance ratio and finding they can pay as little as one-third for a Kayak."

All the latest workstations run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT. They also include a feature called HP MaxiLife, a small display on the outside of the box that HP describes as a window into the computer.

The HP MaxiLife monitor is an extension of HP TopTools desktop management software, which allows systems administrators to work on desktops remotely, Bournival said. MaxiLife provides information on key system components through hardware and works as a backup for TopTools, which cannot report on system status if the operating system is not working.

The workstation also includes the Matrox Productiva G100 graphics subsystem, an Accelerated Graphics Port-compliant graphics solution for professional graphics needs.

HP also announced that the higher-end Kayak XW and XU models are now available with the 350 MHz or 400 MHz Pentium II processors and 440BX chipset. The XW has a street price of $3,600, and the XU is priced at $4,030.

HP was the No. 1 vendor in total workstation shipments as of Jan. 1, according to Dataquest, a Mountain View., Calif.-based market research firm. Sales of the low-end HP Kayak XA workstations were largely responsible for that success, said workstation analyst Dan Dolan, and the XA-s helps HP cover a wider range of customer needs at various price points.

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