HP Launches New Z Series Workstations

More than just a refresh of the product line, HP's new Z series workstations feature a new case design and power supply for improved airflow.  Along with this new design comes a new model numbering plan; these new machines are the HP Z4, Z6 and Z8 Gen 4. (Generation three was the Z440, Z640, and Z840.) The new numbering is also more consistent with the numbering the company is already using with the Z1 and Z2 systems.

Along with the improved performance offered by the newer generation processors and faster memory, HP also promises better system security. Features like HP Sure Start Gen 3 (a self-healing, self-checking BIOS), TPM 2.0, Secure Authentication using up to four authentication tools (including smart cards and biometrics like fingerprints), and HP Secure Erase are designed to ensure that the data on a workstation will not fall into unauthorized hands.

Because of the business sectors in which these workstations are normally used, data security and network integrity is a strong consideration. In some places, the USB ports are often disabled or set to disallow devices like thumb drives in order to keep someone from taking data off of the network, and the systems have either no internet access or it's intentionally limited.

HP Z8 G4

At the top of the family is the new HP Z8, the ''big iron" of HP's workstation family. It's equipped with dual Intel Xeon Bronze, Silver, Gold. or Platinum processors and 24 DIMM slots allowing for up to 1.5TB of six-channel DDR4-2666 ECC SDRAM. Expansion includes two PCIe x4, three PCIe x8, and four PCIe x16 slots. Two of the PCIe x8 slots have no access to the back of the machine and are intended for use for solid state drives and other internal expansion cards. It allows for three dual-slot or four single-slot graphics cards.

Internally, the Z8 will lose many of its expansion slots if you're using three dual-slot GPUs, but there is an empty PCIe x8 slot at the top of the motherboard. This is one of the aforementioned internal-only slots that seem to be the Z8's preferred place for PCIe storage devices. For internal storage expansion, the Z8 has four 3.5”/2.5” bays, and it has two 5.25” external bays (and a slimline bay used for the optical drive.)

In addition to its onboard two-port gigabit Ethernet, HP has made a dual-port 10 GbE module for both the Z8 and Z6 that's designed to give the machines higher-speed networking at a lower cost than the traditional expansion card and without using one of the system's expansion slots. To deal with all this expansion, the Z8 is available with up to a 1700W, 90% efficiency power supply..

HP has designed new internal shrouds that, along with the new case design, increase the internal airflow by 33%. The shrouds also ensure that the second processor ingests separate air from the first CPU, because HP suggested that the second processor ingesting the first processor's hot air has a negative impact on the performance and longevity of the second processor.

HP Z6 G4

The middle child of the new Z series is the Z6. It's a slightly more compact machine than the Z8, but it can also take two of the same processors. Its 12 DIMM slots limit it to 384GB of six-channel DDR4-2666 memory. For expansion, the Z6 has three PCIe x4, one PCIe x8, and two PCIe x16, as well as two M.2 slots on the motherboard. Both PCIe x16 slots can be occupied by dual-slot cards.

Looking inside, you might immediately wonder where the second processor is; it goes on a daughtercard that connects just below the memory banks. The system has two 2.5”/3.5” bays and two external 5.25” bays, as well as a slimline optical bay. This machine is designed to be a compact but expandable chassis that sits between the single-processor Z4 and the dual-processor Z8.

HP Z4 G4

The smallest of HP's new full size desktop workstations is the Z4. Unlike its siblings, the Z4 is a single-processor machine that uses Intel's new Xeon W processors instead of the more expensive socket 3647 models. It has eight DIMM slots and is thus limited to only 256 GB of dual-channel ECC DDR4-2666 SDRAM. Expansion slots consist of two PCIe x16, one PCIe x8, two PCIe x4, and two M.2 connectors. Support for the PCIe x4 slots is apparently added by an additional PCH.

Both PCIe x16 slots can be used for dual-slot GPUs at the same time, which will leave the PCIe x8 slot free for expansion. Like the Z6, the Z4 has two internal 2.5”/3.5” bays and two externally accessible 5.25” bays. A change from previous "4" level Z workstations ( the Z400, Z420, and Z440) is the lack of PCI slot, which was included for legacy device support. This was important for some users who deployed Z4x0 workstations in embedded environments like hospitals. The "4" level of Z workstations isn't just the budget model; it's also the model that was used for things like embedded applications.


HP Z8 G4HP Z6 G4HP Z4 G4
ProcessorsDual Intel Xeon Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum- up to 28 cores per CPU, up to 3.6 Ghz CPU clock.Intel Xeon W, up to 10 cores, up to 4 Ghz CPU clock
ChipsetIntel C622Intel C422
Memory24 ECC DDR4-2666 DIMMs, six channels, up to 1.5 TB12 ECC DDR4-2666 DIMMs, six channels, up to 384 GB8 ECC DDR4-2666 DIMMs, dual channel, up to 256 GB
GraphicsUp to three dual-slot GPUs
Up to four single-slot GPUs
Up to 2 single or dual-slot GPUsUp to 2 single or dual-slot GPUs
Storage Four internal 2.5”/3.5” bays
Two external 5.25” bays
Slimline optical bay
Two internal 2.5”/3.5” bays
Two external 5.25” bays
Slimline optical bay
Two internal 2.5”/3.5” bays
Two external 5.25” bays
Slimline optical bay
Expansion4 PCIe x16, 3 PCIe x8, 2 PCIe x42 PCIe x16, 1 PCIe x8, 3 PCIe x4, 2 M.2 2 PCIe x16, 1 PCIe x8, 2 PCIe x4, 2 M.2
Front Ports1 Mic/Headphone combo jack, 4 USB 3.1 (1 charging), 2 USB 3.1 Type-C
(Optional: 1 Mic/Headphone combo jack, 2 USB 3.1 (1 charging), 2 USB 3.1 Type-C, SD Media Card Reader)
Rear Ports6 USB 3.1 Gen 1; 2 RJ-45 (1 GbE); 1 line out; 1  line in; 1 PS/2 mouse port; 1 PS/2 keyboard port; 1 serial port (optional)
Optional portsThunderbolt 3
2x 10GbE
Thunderbolt 3
Power Supply1700w 90%
1450w 90%
1125w 90%
1000w 90%
700w 90%
750w 90%
4665w 90%
Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro
Windows 7 (for certain applications)
Red Hat Enterprise Linux
HP Linux Installer Kit (includes drivers for 64-bit versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.7 and 7, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 and Ubuntu 14.04)

HP Z38c Curved Display

...and why not have a giant curved screen to go with the workstations. In this glut of announcements, HP also introduced a 37.5” diagonal curved display, the Z38c. In addition to its large size, the monitor has a 21:9 aspect ratio and 3840x1600 resolution. It has a matte surface like other Z series monitors and uses 14-bit internal color processing and an 8-bit + FRC panel to give higher color accuracy.

We aren't sure when the Z38c is coming nor how much it will cost, but the Z8 (starting at $2,439) and Z6 (starting at $1,919) are coming in October, and the Z4 (starting at $1,239) will arrive in November

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