HP to consolidate Intel-based workstation line

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) will introduce a new line-up of workstations Nov. 18 targeted at the video-editing, content creation, and computer-aided design markets, according to HP.

The company is taking the best features of its six existing 32-bit workstations based on Intel Corp. chips and replacing those workstations with four new 32-bit models also based on Intel processors, sources said.

Users will be able to choose from a host of Intel processors, including the unannounced 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processor, a source said. Intel is expected to launch its 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processor the week prior to HP's announcement.

The two lower-range workstations will come with either 2.0GHz, 2.53GHz, 2.8GHz, or 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processors, and the upper range workstations will feature either 2.4GHz, 2.6GHz or 2.8GHz Xeon processors, a source said. The new systems will range in price from US$1,500 to $6,000, a source said. HP's workstations based on Intel's Itanium processor will not be part of this announcement, according to a source.

An HP representative confirmed it would be releasing four new workstations on Nov. 18, but would not comment on the processors in the workstation, nor on pricing.

The announcement is scheduled for the same day when HP Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina is slated to give a keynote address at Comdex in Las Vegas, but the HP representative declined to say whether Fiorina will make the announcement during her speech.

HP refers to the new four workstations it will announce on Nov. 18 as "personal" workstations. On that day it will also introduce two new so-called "technical" PA-RISC (reduced instruction set computing) workstations, according to the company.

Prior to HP's purchase of Compaq, each company had unique strengths in the workstation market said Kara Yokley, research manager for market research company IDC in Framingham, Massachusetts. (IDC is a division of International Data Group Inc., parent company of IDG News Service.) HP was strong in manufacturing companies, while Compaq was popular among the financial community, she said.

Dell Computer Corp. dominates the Intel workstation market, with 50 percent of the market in the second quarter of this year as measured by units, according to data from IDC. The combined HP/Compaq trailed with 25 percent of the market by units.

Both companies compete with RISC models from Sun Microsystems Inc. and IBM Corp. HP, based in Palo Alto, California, also manufactures RISC workstations inherited from Compaq.

The workstation market has not been as affected by the worldwide slowdown in IT spending, because workstation customers are generally in long-development cycles, and can't afford to stop designing cars or cranking out video content, Yokley said. However, users are starting to watch more closely exactly what they are getting for their dollar, and demanding value, she said.

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