PC Blades Get a New Look

ClearCube and Verari Systems are each adding multi-display capabilities to their PC blade offerings.

Two IT vendors are looking to make PC blade systems easier on the eye.

Beginning June 18, ClearCube and Verari Systems each will offer blade-based computing systems that support both dual- and quad-displays.

Dual- and quad-monitor support sets ClearCube and Verari to appeal to specific vertical users, such as traders working on the trading floors of large financial institutions, animators and other creative content users, and utility companies that need multiple displays for gas and oil exploration.

In addition, ClearCube, based in Austin, Texas, and Verari, of San Diego, each will announce a new partnership with Teradici, a new chip company that has been developing graphics and audio technology for blade PCs.

While not a new technology, blade-based computing is gaining attention as an alternative to traditional desktop computing in the enterprise. PC blades look to improve manageability and security by housing the applications, operating system and key data on the corporate networks rather than the desktop PCs. Unlike traditional thin client PCs, blade PCs support each appliance with a dedicated server.

ClearCube, one of the early pioneers of PC blades, has started to offer even more features with its PC blades, including a new agreement with VMware that allows for virtualization technology to work with the PC blade and the companys management software.

Besides ClearCube, other vendors have started to expand their PC blade offering as well. Hewlett-Packard announced two new PC blades on June 11 as well as improvements to its Consolidated Client Infrastructure software.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about HPs new CCI software and hardware.

On May 1, IBM announced that it would begin developing a new blade for server-based computing –the HC-10– and had signed a development agreement with Devon IT to create thin clients that would work with the new system. The blade and thin clients will work IBMs Virtualized Hosted Client Infrastructure (CCI) software that Big Blue developed in 2005 with VMware and Citrix.

While offering a more secure product that the IT department can manage from a data center, these PC blades also cut down on the heat that can be generated by traditional desktops.

"The trend in the market is primarily driven by centralized security and simplified desktop management while maintaining end-user flexibility," Mark Bowker, an analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK. "Solutions in the past have failed due to poor end-user experience, but now Verari claims that they can run over Ethernet at distances up to 3,000 [feet] without a performance hit."

As for ClearCube, Bowker said the company has been making progress with its use of virtualization technology.

"This makes sense for consolidation purposes, high availability and perhaps most importantly power and cooling initiatives," Bowker wrote.

While both thin client and PC blades have lacked the graphic and audio support of traditional laptop and notebooks, the announcements by ClearCube and Verari are looking to change that particular problem.

At the SIFMA Technology Management Conference in New York, ClearCube executives will detail three new port devices–the I9420, I19440 and C7420–that will allows the companys PC blades to support more than one display. These ports are the key devices to providing connectivity with PC blades and will allow better graphics displays through a secure IP connection.

With its VerariIP hosted desktop technology, Verari is looking to give users of its blade-based workstation products better graphics and a monitor support by allowing 1920 by 1200 resolution DVI (Digital Video Interactive) signal to travel from the data center to the workstation through a TCP/IP network. A small desktop appliance will then support the video and audio components and the USB ports.

/zimages/3/28571.gifIBM is offering blades for SMBs. Click here to read more.

Both of these technologies allows for a users desktop image to be recreated both at the desk and away from the office.

The new ClearCube and Verari products rely on ASIC microprocessor technology developed by Teradici, a new company based in British Columbia, Canada, co-found by Dan Cordingley, a former Intel executive, and Dave Hobbs.

In addition, Teradicis chip technology also will be part of the blade-based product being produced by IBM and Devon IT.

The technology that Teradici has developed, called "PC over IP," which compresses rendered display data and USB signals into a digital format and then sends a signal from a companys network through an IP network to the desktop.

The ClearCube port devices will not be available until the third quarter, while the Verari workstation product will not ship to customers until the fourth quarter. Pricing for both products has not been set as of yet.

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