A New ’Bird Has Landed

The build up has been long, but damn, has it ever been worth it.

Today, just in time for CES, HP officially announced our latest offering: the HP Firebird with Voodoo DNA. This is a performance PC truly unlike anything you’ve seen before.

What we’re bringing to the table is a performance PC that doesn’t suck energy, doesn’t dominate a room in terms of size, but does kick ass. The HP Firebird with Voodoo DNA strikes a balance that has never been struck before. It is deadly quiet, its innovations are truly revolutionary, and it brings energy efficiency to the performance PC space.

We have effectively taken typical high performance PC hardware, shrunk it down, made it way more energy efficient, made it quieter (uhh, silent), kept it fully modular, and oh yeah, didn’t sacrifice performance or features that our customers demand. Basically, we took the gas-guzzling SUV and converted it into an energy efficient super car.

You might think that it looks strikingly similar to the HP Blackbird 002...and you’d be right. When Mark Solomon and the team designed the HP Firebird, they used the same design language, giving the HP Firebird some of the HP Blackbird 002’s iconic features, including the removable tool-free hard drives, full system liquid cooling, and distinct aluminum foot which opens an additional side for cool air to enter the chassis. But it’s what’s different from the Blackbird that really sets this PC apart. The HP Firebird has been designed as a smart performance PC.

The Voodoo team at HP came up with the platform design, and early on we decided that trying to crowbar a bunch of standard components into this tight little form factor would be absolutely the wrong thing to do. Instead, we worked with our partners and used some of our partners’ most unique technologies to make the HP Firefly a reality.

HP approached Nvidia with this new hybrid desktop concept, and we asked them to design new video cards that would deliver similar performance to their desktop counterparts. Needless to say, after seeing the final results Nvidia is totally excited by this machine because, among other things, large video cards with cumbersome cooling units are expensive to produce and expensive to maintain.

The MXM boards are easier to produce, more reliable, easy for us to install, and very easy to cool.

We also worked with Creative Labs to design a mini version of their X-FI card. We know how important quality audio is to some of our customers, so the higher end model includes a built-in X-FI card.

Above all, we wanted to ensure that Firebird would exceed our customers’ expectations, and we’re sure it will: the new HP Firebird with VoodooDNA gives users the features they demand and leaves out expensive, energy-intensive components that the majority of the population never fully utilizes.

For a good rundown on the story behind the HP Firebird, check out this video featuring Mark Solomon and myself.

So what’s all included? An Intel Core 2 Quad processor, Nvidia Hybrid SLI graphics (thanks to three carefully chosen GPUs), and tool-free250 GB-320GB dual hard drives. It features an advanced thermal management system, which consists of everything from onboard dynamic thermal management to a factory sealed liquid cooling system which cools everything –the GPUs, Chipset, and CPU.

The HP Firebird with VoodooDNA also features energy-efficient components and an external power supply—an innovation that not only reduces heat production, it helped us keep the chassis small and keeps the system running cool. In fact, it runs quieter at full crank than most gaming PCs do at idle (under 30 dB!).

As I’ve mentioned, our secret to fitting performance components into a chassis that is about a third of the size of Blackbird is in the smaller form factor hard drives and new dual NVIDIA GeForce MXM 3.0 small form factor cards, along with an Nvidia integrated graphics chipset that provide a HD-resolution visual experience. Don’t let the “S” fool you in the model name of the cards (Nvidia came up with that model number to signify the “small form factor” of these boards): they perform every bit as good as their desktop counterparts.

We also pulled the power supply to the outside of the chassis, which increases the overall efficiency dramatically while bringing down the absolute peak power to under 350 watts! While most high performance PCs use power supplies that exceed 1.2 kilowatts, Firebird sips power: at idle Firebird uses 107 watts while peak usage is approximately 233 watts! We have yet to task the extremely efficient 350 watt power supply.

Additionally, besides requiring significantly less space inside the chassis, the cards work with the integrated graphics capabilities on the chip to scale power consumption to match the level of performance required by the application in use. You might say we designed one of the first real examples of hybrid computing. But we like to think we created a new – and smarter – approach to performance computing.

You’re going to hear a lot about the HP Firebird with VoodooDNA, because I truly believe it breaks new ground for the performance PC industry. It’s the first of its kind, not only for HP, but for all of our partners.

It’s beautiful to look at, a dream to use, and I’m not kidding about the sound—it is QUIET. So quiet that you cannot hear it running, so hopefully that answers any questions about the noise level of such a small, powerful system. I would even love to see this become a new standard, so if you work at a system builder and you would like to discuss this please feel free to email me.

So seriously ,the question you have to ask yourself is why spend $3000+ on a loud, monster, powerholic, inefficient performance PC when you can pick up the HP Firebird with VoodooDNA 802 for $1799? For an additional $300 you can get the model 803 which comes with Blu-Ray, more hard drive space, a built-in Creative Labs XFI card, built in wireless Ethernet, unlimited color lighting, a translucent side panel and a faster processor. The specifications are awesome, and you absolutely get what you pay for. Sure there will be people who say things like “I can build one for less” – but they simply cannot. You will not be able to build a PC that offers a balance of performance, silence, size, scalability, reliability, and efficiency for less.

I ask that you give it a chance before you make assumptions. Order one online—you can always return within 30 days if it doesn't meet your requirements. Check them out online here and in select retail outlets starting later next month. It will be available for ordering on January 10th.

And if you’re curious, there are some interesting shared technologies between the HP Firebird and the HP Firefly, which has been getting some attention over the last week. The HP Firefly is a concept high performance laptop that was designed in tandem with the HP Firebird. It sparked some ideas for one its most innovative features, including the energy efficient external power supply—what you see in the HP Firebird is a slightly modified version of what we originally created for the HP Firefly. In the future we may look at other patents from the Firefly and bring them over to other products. You will never see Firefly on the market, but if you’re lucky you might see one in the possession of a few.

Overall, the two products side by side are a great example of how innovative concepts can evolve, transform and eventually become realized in products that are on the market.

I’d like to personally thank our partners for all their hard work, especially Nvidia – their unique view of technology helped us make this vision a reality.


Spencer said...

A company after my own heart!

Amazing! I put together a small computer half a year ago and posted it on the Voodoo forums that did this very thing! It was high performance and energy efficient--I even took parts from the Blackbird and changed parts.


The K said...

Hi Rahul... Awesome stuff... Will this Energy efficient beast ever come to India?

Great going...
Ramesh K (HP)

Rahul Sood said...

Go to your nearest HP Retailer and demand that they get it for you... :)

siang said...

wow! It even comes with the X-Fi sound card? That's what I call a true gaming machine, I can't believe how other companies can come up with gaming computers without a proper sound card! I'm so getting this

Phil Hanson said...

My only comment is, with a totally custom motherboard ... why a green PCB???


Will Higgins said...

Congratulations! I hope it's well recieved everywhere it hits. I like the hot-swappable hdd's and the silent (sssh) cooling, and not to mention the slim looks.

Br said...

Hi Rahul, congratulations on the launch of Voodoo's new Firebird with HP! I think this is a wonderful pc, waiting to see the RRP and launch date

Robert Godlewski said...

I agree with Phil Hanson, the motherboard should be black. Does the green motherboard really make the Firebird more "green" and environmentally friendly? ;)

Nevertheless, it's an awesome system from what I've just read and seen. Congrats.

Ted R. said...

k forget everything I said about the XPS, I will be buying a Firebird as soon as it's released.

Marcin said...

Kool. Are you going to make this avail in Europe ? As Blackbird was available only in Harrods in UK, which kinda sucks...

Anonymous said...

This thing weighs a whopping 24 pounds!!! WTF

MoonDarter said...

I bought a Voodoo PC back in 2001 and have only added RAM since then. Now that it's time to finally replace it--okay, I've been saything that for two years, but now I'm serious--the Firebird appears. Nice!

Several questions:

Just where does the new machine fall in terms of performance? Using apps like Adobe's CS4 suite, Google SketchUp, Sony's SoundForge, and playing games more like Civ4 than Crysis, will I still be using an original Firebird seven years from now?

Are there no configuration options? Just the two configs listed?

Where's the card reader?

Why no front-mounted USB ports?

I have an Anthro table with an upper shelf, under which my PC sits. How much heat comes out of the top of the Firebird?

Why 5400rpm HDs?

Will USB keyboards/mice play well with the Firebird? How about the new Explorer Mouse from Microsoft?

Okay, I'll quit for the time being. But I'll certainly be watching!

iC said...

Stunning, wanted soonest!


jenbrister said...

Nice! It sounds like this could a GREAT entertainment PC too. With some repackaging, perhaps it could fit nicely within entertainment center furniture.

James King said...

I'm a tad confused...

Is this design supposed to become a new industry standard? Is expansion just as easy as the current paradigm?

Very cool though. Looking forward to seeing some benchmarks.