Dell Introduces Power-Conserving Enterprise Desktops, First Thin Client

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-10-28

Dell Introduces Power-Conserving Enterprise Desktops, First Thin Client

Green IT has made a lot of headway in the data center during the past 18 months with the deployment of improved power supplies and power-saving servers, storage arrays and special-purpose appliances.

Now the environmental IT mindset is moving to the workplace desktop. Dell on Oct. 28 announced wholesale upgrades in its high-end OptiPlex commercial desktop computer line that center around major power consumption cuts-in some cases nearly half-and a new feature set.

The company also launched four entirely new power-conserving OptiPlex models.

Finally, Dell introduced its first thin-client desktop, something that Wyse, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM/Devon and others have been making for years.

"We're refreshing our entire OptiPlex commercial desktop line. We're refreshing some products and expanding into other usage models and customer feature capabilities that we don't have today," Darrel Ward, director of Dell's Product Group, told eWEEK. "We're taking the two OptiPlex desktops we have today, doing some segmentation. ... We'll also be launching four new OptiPlexes."

Key feature points and pricing in the OptiPlex line include:

  • OptiPlex 960: Enables up to 43 percent less power consumption over the previous generation of OptiPlex desktops; optional QuietKit technology reduces noise by as much as 60 percent. Available in three chassis styles (minitower, desktop and small form factor); pricing starts at $863.
  • OptiPlex 760: Offers mainstream security, productivity and energy-efficient features with improved management capabilities; pricing starts at $593.
  • OptiPlex 360: Basic desktop for small and midsize businesses and small offices/home offices; pricing starts at $476.
  • OptiPlex FX160: Dell's first thin client supports embedded or streamed operating systems for virtual desktop implementations; pricing starts at $399.

In coordination with the release of the thin client and new desktops, Dell also said it is expanding its year-old Flexible Computing Solutions package to include availability of on-demand desktop streaming and the company's new Virtual Remote Desktop offering.

Dells Overall Strategy: Flexible Computing

Flexible computing, in a nutshell, is Dell's strategy to provide alternative client computing models.

"A trend that we're seeing is an increasing number of client workloads moving back into the data center," Jeremy Ford, Dell senior technology strategist, said. "The lines between the desktop and the data center are beginning to blur. One thing we think is key is to only move the components back into the data center that are most critical-specifically, the data."

In other words, Ford said, "just because you can move compute back into the data center,  you shouldn't necessarily do that because of data center [power and space] constraints, and power draw and cooling issues involved. To that end, we've come up with the flexible computing model."

Dell's flexible computing package is strictly network-based and makes good use of desktop virtualization. At the same time, it enables IT staffs to retain full control of data and application management without sacrificing end-user performance or productivity, Dell claimed.

Dell's flexible computing package includes:

  • On-Demand Desktop Streaming, for use in data centers only. This was launched a year ago and is being implemented in the new OptiPlex desktops. The hard drive is removed from the client device, with the overall image being moved back into the data center and housed on a partitioned server. The image is then streamed over a LAN (local area network) to a diskless client on the desktop, which does have local graphics processing ability. "As a result of this [design], you don't have the latency that's usually found in virtual desktops," Ford said. "And the savings in power and cooling in the data center can be substantial."
  • Virtual Remote Desktop. These data center-hosted virtual client desktops can be accessed from a variety of devices-including handhelds-and locations.
  • Dedicated Remote Workstation. This is a PC-over-IP product that connects to a Dell Precision R5400 rack-mount workstation in a data center for high-performance users in harsh or highly secure environments. 

Dell also announced a series of new managed services that complement existing factory customization options for the new products. Go here for details.

The OptiPlex desktops, flexible computing package (the Virtual Remote Desktop is available in the United States only) and several new services are available directly from Dell and through the company's PartnerDirect channel partners.


Rocket Fuel