IBM has offered a sneak peek of its new blade-format workstation and accompanying thin client.
Presenting to a group of journalists at its Research Triangle Centre in North Carolina Big Blue unveiled its HC10 blade along with its TC10 thin client companion.
For the latter the firm promises high performance and rich multimedia, something with which traditional thin clients often battle.
According to IBM BladeCentre vice president Tom Bradicich, the HC10 "rivals a high end desktop experience".
But because the blades slot into a BladeCentre chassis, power and cooling are provided by the chassis which lowers power consumption and maintenance costs.
The offering is aimed at the mid-range market of business users which require a relatively high level of performance particularly in terms of 3D graphics and other multimedia functions such as video streaming and conferencing.
Rather than a server planar, the blade contains a normal workstation planar designed in the blade format.
The blade runs a 2.66GHz Intel Core Duo processor, up to 4GB of RAM, one of two Nvidia graphics cards, high definition audio and houses its own local storage.
The costs of the HC10 and TC10 clients are comparable to mid to high range desktops.
But IBM claims that the payoffs come in other ways such as lower power consumption, better and easier manageability, and improved data security as all information is stored and accessed directly on the server.
Big Blue said that a key aspect of the design is its ability to use the blade workstations as computational workhorses when they are not in use by staff.
This is ideal for financial institutions which need extra power boosts to speed up complex data analysis overnight.
The TC10 thin client, made by IBM partner Devon IT, essentially does nothing more than process the data stream from the HC10 and allow end point connectivity on the desktop. This means it has very low power consumption and creates almost no heat.
The data stream is transmitted over standard TCP/IP protocols, and uses a very high compression and encryption technology developed by IBM to help deliver real-time performance even at a range of 2,500 miles between the HC10 blade and the TC10 client.
The compression technology is proprietary to IBM, but the company is working with the VESA international standards body to make it an open standard.
Makoto Ono, IBM product manager, said that the system uses normal computing and only consumes around 2Mb to 3Mb of bandwidth allowing several users to share a single standard 100Mb/s Ethernet connection.
High performance and graphically intensive applications such as computer aided design may consume up to 10 times that level of bandwidth.
Pricing and availability of the HC10 and TC10 will be announced on 5 June.
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