Blade PC company ClearCube has updated its technology for connecting users to its blades, using IP as the transmission standard.
The I/Port, a small device which sits on a user's desktop, connects via standard networking devices to a server room cabinet with racked blade PCs, said chief marketing officer Raj Shah. It also allows multiple users to share the same PC blade.
A blade PC deployment is a relatively new strategy for reducing the amount of hardware on a user's desk and increasing the IT department's control of individual PCs. ClearCube sells enterprise customers on the idea of connecting users to PC blades with Intel Pentium 4 processors which can be stacked in a central location for easier maintenance and software upgrades.
With ClearCube's older technology, the C/Port, users were connected to their blade PCs via a proprietary transmission protocol that ran over a standard Category 5 cable from the server room to the C/Port on the user's desk. Both the C/Port and the I/Port measure about eight inches wide by five inches deep by one inch thick.
The C/Port or I/Port have connections for a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. All of a user's data resides on the blade PC.
The transmission protocol limited users to a range of about 198m from the blade to the desktop, Shah said. The I/Port will allow PC blade users to work any distance away from their blade cabinets because the IP signals can be sent through a company's standard networking equipment.
Roger Kay, vice president of client computing for IDC, said the I/Port fills a big hole in ClearCube's technology that other blade PC and thin client suppliers such as Hewlett-Packard were quick to exploit when demonstrating the technology to customers.
The I/Port will also allow up to four individual users to share the same blade. This feature is well-suited for call-centre environments or financial trading floors, Shah said.
The blade-sharing technology also improves the availability of a user's PC, Kay said. In the event of a system failure, IT administrators can transfer users to another blade without having to replace the I/Port.
The I/Port will be available in the fourth quarter, Shah said. Pricing for a ClearCube deployment is based on volume, and is negotiated with the customer, but an average-sized deployment of the I/Port and blade PCs would cost about $900 per user if multiple users share each blade.
Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service