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Appro International, an IT company known for producing high-density computer and server clusters, is taking a aim at vertical markets with a new workstation based on dual-core Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices.

The workstation, which will be based on 64-bit, x86 architecture, will utilize AMD’s Opteron 8000 series dual-core processors. In addition, Appro will offer users up to 128GB of DDR2 (double data rate) memory, as well as two to four sockets on each machine.

Later in 2007, Appro, based in Milpitas, Calif., will also incorporate AMD’s quad-core Opteron processor, called “Barcelona,” with the new workstation. A specific launch date for the quad-core chip has not been set, although it is expected to hit the market by the second half of 2007.

The workstation market is now worth about $5 billion annually in revenue, and the space is expected to grow by about 500,000 units between 2006 and 2011, said Lloyd Cohen, an analyst with IDC.

The market right now is dominated by Dell and Hewlett-Packard, although some smaller companies have been able to make headway in the space due to its high profit margins, Cohen said.

There has also been a renewed interest in workstation in fields such as financial services, scientific engineering and digital content creation. A study by IDC found that users of workstations now have more than one machine. In past years, users typically only had one workstation, Cohen said.

Appro, which has mostly developed products for HPC (high-performance computing), high-density servers and clusters, has built workstations for customers in the past, but this machine—the first workstation offered under the company’s Xtreme line—marks the first time its engineers have built a workstation from the “ground up,” said John Lee, vice president of advance technology solutions.

Compared to other previous workstation models developed by Appro, this latest offering promises to reduce latency by 25 percent, while giving users twice the computing power.

Click here to read more about the latest PC vendor numbers from Gartner and IDC.

“We really believe that we have combined a lot of features that will provide HPC and power users a very powerful workstation platform,” Lee said. “This workstation has twice the density of what it out there now, which means that it can finish a job twice as fast as the competition.”

Some of the additional features that Lee mentioned include two PCI-Express x16 slots that will support high-end graphics chips from Nvidia, such as the FX4500 X2 and the Quadro FX500.

This also allows this workstation to support up to four monitors, which is a necessity in fields such as oil and gas engineering, aerospace design and 3D modeling.

Lee also said that Appro used a “very large” amount of research and development to keep the new workstation as quiet as possible. Improvements to the workstation chassis include a larger, all-copper heat sink and better control of the air flow over “hot spots” in the PC, which allows cooling but reduces noise by cutting back on moving parts.

This combination of features and new technology is designed to make the workstation attractive to Appro’s traditional customer base of oil and gas enterprises and government facilities.

The new quiet features, according to Lee, will also help the company promote to workstation to financial services and health care companies, where the PC would sit out in the open as part of the office.

Click here to read more about “quiet” PCs.

“This is a workstation with a lot of memory and a design and platform that can fit into an office environment,” Lee said.

Cohen said that Appro is trying to leverage its HPC expertise into a new market for a workstation.

“If you have an office with high-performance computing, it’s only logical that there is a workstation there as well,” Cohen said.

The Xtreme Workstation, which will start to ship to customers immediately, starts at approximately $2,000, depending on customized memory and other configurations.

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