Workstations: Who Needs Them?

Posted by TomPurves on July 23, 2018

The short answer? More users than you think. Today’s technology puts powerful apps, giant databases and huge image files in the hands of individual users right at the desktop. Users across all industries are accessing, editing, manipulating and storing more data—and larger files—than ever before. It’s all more than the average PC can hope to manage. That’s where workstations come in.

Unlike traditional desktops or laptops, workstations are designed to offer the best of the best:

  • Professional-grade graphics cards
  • Capacity for more—and more powerful—processors
  • RAM options that provide more than twice the memory of a PC
  • Large storage drives that provide terabytes of capacity 
  • Network connectivity options that ensure high data transfer rates

Users in the engineering industry have long relied on the power and durability of workstations to meet the demands of CAD applications. And with new and complex requirements for product modeling, process simulations, analysis-driven design and rapid prototyping, even the most advanced PC can’t cope. Workstations are configured to meet these unique requirements, allowing engineers to work with ever-larger assemblies.

“If you're an IT manager for a company that relies heavily on CAD and engineering, or the owner of even a small design and engineering shop, it's likely that graphics and workstation performance affects your bottom line,” says Bob Cramblitt of Engineering.com1. It’s no surprise that the engineering industry accounts for a full 60% of the workstation market2. That said, CAD workstations no longer have to be the mammoth machines they once were. The HP Z2 Mini, for example—designed specifically for CAD users—provides the performance of a traditional workstation tower but is smaller than a shoebox3.

Creators of digital content likewise depend on workstations to get the job done, be it video and audio creation and editing, animation, photorealistic 2D or 3D renderings, or any other digital creation process. Workstation GPUs accelerate rendering, and generous RAM modules allow for larger canvases. Workstations empower digital content creators at every stage, allowing them to wield powerful software packages and easily accommodate gigantic files.

According to market research firm ICT, the growing demand for digital content like 3D animation will continue fueling the growth of the global workstation market4. And for good reason: Recent research shows that a single workstation with 3 TB of storage can power as much performance for interactive rendering as a 128-node HPC GPU cluster—even more in some cases5.

But engineers and digital creatives aren’t the only users who can benefit from workstations. Software developers can use them to speed the development and delivery of new products and services by allowing them to compile and execute large blocks of code, run multiple code tests and analyses simultaneously, and create multiple dev and test environments with different virtual machines and distros. Data scientists, analysts and researchers can use workstations to run complex calculations and analytics processes using multiple data sets. The result? Faster and more accurate answers, all whilst making better use of the team’s valuable time.

Even some power users are good candidates for workstations. Strategic or specialised workers who run several demanding applications at once, especially graphic or data intensive apps, may complain of performance lags. Workstations can resolve these issues, satisfying the most challenging users and making them more productive.

For many workers in today’s data-driven industries, workstations are not a nice-to-have—they are essential. And with OEMs offering a wide range of choice, including mobile workstations, it’s a perfect time to explore the options now available to your organisation.

CDW recommends HP Workstations. Windows 10 Pro means business.

For more information contact your CDW Account Manager or email HP@uk.cdw.com.

Author - Victoria Currie, HP Sales Specialist


1 https://www.engineering.com/Hardware/ArticleID/14771/Workstation-PerformanceNot-All-Benchmarks-Are-Created-Equal.aspx

2 https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=US42439517

3 https://www.pcmag.com/review/353987/hp-z2-mini-g3

4 https://www.reportlinker.com/p04394393/Workstation-Market-Global-Industry-Analysis-and-Opportunity-Assessment.html

5 https://www.hpcwire.com/2018/01/25/hpc-ai-two-communities-future/

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