AMD Wants to Free Businesses from the Desktop PC

Updated: The chip maker, under its Raiden project, is setting out to create more alternatives to the traditional business desktop.

Advanced Micro Devices is aiming to shake up the business PC.

The company, via a project it has dubbed Raiden, is eyeing new approaches to client computing for businesses. Raiden was officially unveiled by AMD during the chip makers June 1 financial analyst meeting at its Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters. Although AMD doesnt intend for Raiden to follow a set schedule, work on the multifaceted effort has been under way for some time.

At its heart, the effort seeks to broaden the number of methods that businesses can use to allow workers to tap into their work-related applications and data to do their jobs. Several of the new models seek to separate the core desktop computing experience from a given type of physical hardware—usually a desktop PC—by encapsulating the graphical user interface, applications and data, and delivering it to workers screens via the corporate network, versus locating it at the desktop.

The goal, AMD said, is to centralize control and management of the applications and data and thus lower management costs versus traditional PCs. AMD, however, at the same time will continue to seek a broader share of the traditional desktop PC market.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about the comeback of thin clients.

"Raiden is trying to shift the focus away from a physical device and refer to a client computing experience. If you accept that as a premise, you get past a lot of the traditional thoughts—such as the [physical] size," said Marty Seyer, senior vice president of AMDs Commercial Business Segment, in Sunnyvale. "At the end of the day its about improving the experience."

AMD believes that somewhere between five and 10 product categories—some of which already exist—will fall under Raiden and be available to commercial customers, he said.

The products range from traditional thin clients to new approaches such as stateless PCs, which have no hard drive, and partitioned PCs that use virtualization to limit a given employee to accessing only work applications or to deploy a special work partition containing corporate software onto an employee-purchased PC.

"Weve had a significant number of discussions with end clients asking us to reinvent this approach. The only way to get a handle on TCO is to change the model," Seyer said. "One way to change that is to shift [computing] cycles to the data center."

AMD is making some assumptions, including that customers will use energy-efficient servers on the back end and have sufficient network bandwidth in place to support the operation of devices such as stateless PCs, Seyer admitted.

The stateless PC, he said, is a "straightforward way to do it as long as youve got the bandwidth and you can guarantee users a performance level."

Such machines are desktops built using standard hardware. But they lack local storage. Thus, the operating systems, applications and data they access are all located on a server, which streams them via a network connection.

Next Page: Split-mode computer.