HP just unveiled the world’s first mini workstation designed for users in CAD and other compute-intensive industries. Since our focus is audio/video production and post, during the private HP press conference for journalists last week, I inquired about the GPU’s potential support for non-integer framerates like 23.976, 29.97 and 59.94 fps, which are still used in productions targeted for NTSC and ex-NTSC regions in the world, in addition to integer framerates like exact 24 (mainly for theater projection) and 25/50 fps (for PAL and ex PAL regions). Ahead I’ll explain this issue in more detail, quote HP’s and NVIDIA’s response, and give you more details on the HP Z2 Mini. There is also an introductory video from HP.
Why it’s critical to output your project framerate to your video monitor natively
It is important to output and monitor your project’s framerate natively (or at least a 2x version) to see it in its native cadence, and to prevent having occasional skipped frames as your monitor struggles to keep up. When I say a 2x version, I mean that in case your monitor won’t accept native 23.976 (aka “23.98”) (mainly for the traditional filmic cadence on TV, DVD and Blu-ray), it’s fine to output 2x (47.952). If your monitor won’t accept exact 24 (mainly for theater projection), it’s fine to output 48. If your monitor won’t accept 25 (mainly for PAL and ex-PAL regions), it’s fine to output 50. If your monitor won’t accept 29.97, it’s fine to output 59.94.
Traditionally, to monitor those non-integer framerates natively (or at 2x), we have needed a professional interface like (at a minimum) the UltraStudio Mini Monitor (illustrated above and reviewed here, here and here).
During the private HP press conference for journalists last week, when the HP Z2 Mini Workstation was announced under an embargo until now, I inquired about the GPU’s potential support for non-integer framerates like 23.976, 29.97 and 59.94 fps, in addition to integer framerates like exact 24, 25 and 50 fps. After a few days of research, HP responded:
Per NVIDIA – all Quadro GPUs can support this.
Now that a workstation like the HP Z2 Mini Workstation can do it directly —and to up to six simultaneous displays, you may no longer need an external interface.
Previously, I published a detailed article about this topic: HP ZBook Studio G3: How to output standard framerates over HDMI (illustrated above), which covers how to access the nearly hidden menus to accomplish it.
Now more about the new HP Z2 Mini Workstation
According to HP, the Z2 Mini is:
A revolutionary mini PC that delivers breakthrough power and versatility in a small, elegant design. The Z2 Mini gives users both performance and reliability for the best CAD experience available.
The company adds the following bullet points:
- Full performance and ultra-compact workstation that’s 216x 216x58mm (2.3 x 2.3 x 8.5 inch) and 90 percent smaller than a traditional small form factor (SFF).
- Ability to support six displays right out of the box.
- Twice the power of a commercial mini PC with next generation Intel Xeon processors, NVIDIA professional graphics and the availability of HP Z Turbo Drive for handling large files remarkably fast.
The HP Z2 Mini Workstation is expected to be available worldwide in December 2016 starting at US$699. Here’s a complete data sheet.
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