HP on Tuesday pumped up the graphics and processing power on its line of pro-level workstations, introducing a quad-core desktop the company calls the "mother of all workstations."

The new HP XW8600 Workstation will include two quad-core Intel processors and enhanced graphics with 2D or 3D Nvidia graphics cards carrying memory between 256MB and 512MB, enabling game developers to share 3D images from different locations, said Jim Zafarana, vice president of marketing at HP, during a company event in San Francisco.

The XW8600 will run Intel quad-core Xeon processors, support up to 128G bytes of RAM and have storage of up to 5T bytes on five hard drives, Zafarana said. It will come with Microsoft's Windows Vista OS or Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

More customers are asking for the ability to better manage and share graphics remotely, especially for oil exploration and scientific imaging, Zafarana said.

The PCI Express Gen 2.0 standard incorporated in the system enables quicker data transfers and helps the desktops better handle graphics, said Tom Kilroy, vice president of Intel, speaking at the event. Intel's 5400 chipset, on which the system is based, improves input-output bandwidth, which boosts graphics performance, Kilroy said.

The desktop can transfer 3D graphics using Remote Graphics Software, an embedded system originally developed by HP Labs and used by NASA to transfer images from Mars exploration to Earth, Zafarana said.

The company also introduced the HP XW6600 Workstation, which will be equipped with Intel's Xeon quad-core processors. It will support up to 32GB of memory and up to 3TB of storage on three hard drives.

Both workstations will also come with Intel's dual-core processors. The systems support graphics cards, including the two-dimension Nvidia Quadro NVS290 graphics card and three-dimension Nvidia Quadro FX 370, Nvidia Quadro FX 570, Nvidia Quadro FX 1700, Nvidia Quadro FX 4600 and Nvidia Quadro FX5600 graphics cards.

The HP xw6600 and xw8600 Workstations are expected to begin shipping in mid-December with starting prices for the xw6600 at £799 plus VAT and for the xw8600 at £949 plus VAT.