HP says its new ZCentral will offer more fluid CPU and GPU acceleration.

Jeffrey Schwartz

November 27, 2019

3 Min Read
HP ZCentral workstation

HP has revamped its alternative to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and cloud-hosted desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) for customers seeking high-end, dedicated remote workstation performance.

The newly branded ZCentral portfolio, introduced at last week’s Autodesk University conference in Las Vegas, will arrive early next year as a turnkey offering for those who need remote workstation performance with access to dedicated CPUs and GPUs, rather than virtual, compute resources.


HP’s Anu Herranen

In fields such as health care, film production, construction, energy and financial services, there are cases VDI and DaaS may not suffice, according to Anu Herranen, HP’s director of new commercial workstation and VR product introductions.

“There’s a need for more fluid GPU and CPU acceleration anywhere, and on any device, not just the workstation,” Herranen said during a media briefing. Increased amounts of data and file sizes, resulting from advances in content types such as 8k video, have made it increasingly more challenging to enable remote high-performance computing, according to Herranen. “This is something that’s increasingly common,” she said.

The new ZCentral portfolio includes an upgraded rack-mountable portfolio of workstation hardware including the new Z2 mini, which HP claims are small enough to hold 56 in a rack and its highest performing Z8. Core to the new offering though, is the new ZConnect Control management software and an overhaul of HP’s Remote Graphics Software (RGS) software, which the company will call ZCentral Remote Boost.


Techanalysis’s Bob O’Donnell

“This is basically RGS version 2,” said Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst at Technalysis Research. “It’s a protocol HP has offered for doing very high speed, basically high-speed screen scraping so that the compute can be separate from the monitor.”

One caveat: The remote users will require access to reliable and high-speed broadband, O’Donnell cautioned. “But assuming you have usable broadband, it is a way to let people have access to a lot of compute horsepower,” he said.

Based on HP’s claims, ZCentral will offer 33% better performance than virtualized workstations at 72% of the cost by offering dedicated CPU and GPU resources. The difference comes from accelerating each workflow versus shared verifiable performance of virtualized solutions, according to Herranen.

“Each remote user gets access to the entire workstation, and the entire CPU is always available to them, unlike VDI where the CPU is obviously sliced up where each user gets a variable slice depending on the number of the other remote users,” she said. “And the same thing applies to the GPU as well.” Herranen said dedicated remote workstations are more secure, are ISV certified plus won’t run afoul of some software vendor’s licensing restrictions that may apply when used in virtual environments.

The new ZCentral Remote Boost software works with Windows, MacOS and Linux clients and offers…

…improved image quality that allows remote users to locally resize a remote display without changing the resolution of their remote workstations. “It will automatically adapt to the receiver’s resolution and provide support for 4K or multiple monitor setups,” Herranen said.

Administrators or managed services providers will be able to control pools of workstations and allocate power and provision security controls through the new ZCentral Control software. A key component of ZCentral Control is a broker that shows a list of available machines without requiring knowledge of specific IP addresses or hostnames.

While the new software will arrive early next year, HP’s new workstations, which will work with the existing RPB software, are available now.

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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