ClearCube expands reach and usability of blades

Blade PC company ClearCube has updated its technology for connecting users to its blades, using IP as the transmission standard.

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

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