HP Expanding Server Options

While the company rolls out two new thin clients, it continues to evaluate trials of its PC blade technology.

Hewlett-Packard Co. is pushing forward its server-based computing plans on two fronts.

On Monday, the Palo Alto, Calif., company is rolling out its two newest thin clients, the HP Compaq t5300 and t5500, both powered by Transmeta Corp.s power-efficient Crusoe chips and running Microsoft Corp.s Windows CE.Net operating system.

HP also is continuing to evaluate trials of its PC blade technology. While officials said a decision on whether to launch a PC blade offering will be made later in the year, they added that the results of the trials to this point have been positive.

Thin clients and PC blades essentially share the same goals: to improve manageability and security by housing the key components—such as applications and all the data—on servers and corporate networks rather than the desktop PCs. The key difference is that in the thin-client environment, multiple appliances share a server; with PC blades, each appliance has a dedicated server.


The new thin clients join the t5700, introduced in May, in HPs new line of the appliances. Greg Schmidt, product marketing manager for the HP Compaq thin clients, said the goal of the t5000 series is to offer standards-based thin-client computing to enterprises at a price lower than such rivals as Wyse Technology Inc. and Neoware Systems Inc.

"We said, Lets bring a total solution to the thin client marketplace … and make a real powerful PC for thin clients," Schmidt said.

Among those standards are the Crusoe chips from Transmeta. The Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker has focused its efforts on building processors that consume less power and generate less heat than traditional chips. The t5300 is powered by a 533MHz Crusoe chip and offers 64MB of memory and four UB ports. The Crusoe chip in the t5500 runs at 733MHz with 128MB of memory, ATI Rage XC graphics with 8MB of dedicated video memory, four USB ports—including a serial port and a parallel port—and an optional PC slot.

On the software side, HP integrated Citrix client software for Windows CE.Net into the thin clients, enabling users to use applications running on Citrix Metaframe Presentation servers on their appliances. However, a key industry-standard offering is the Altiris deployment software, enabling customers to run the same software to deploy applications on thin clients, servers and PCs, Schmidt said. It also offers greater problem resolution capabilities and is easier to use than the Rapport software from Wyse that HP had been using, he said.

"When you used [thin clients] before, you didnt really get a good PC-like experience," Schmidt said. "Weve stepped away from proprietary, non-standard [components] and give users a PC-based architecture."

HP is expecting the new systems to enable it to grab a larger share of a small market that is growing at 25 percent to 30 percent a year. International Data Corp., of Framingham, Mass., has said demand for thin clients could grow from 1.5 million units this year to more than 3 million in four years.

Both thin clients are available immediately, with the t5300 starting at $349 and the t5500 at $379.

Next page: HP puts blades their paces.