Data Management

Teradici Proposes Invisible Computers

15 Jan, 2009 By: Kenneth Wong

Compression technology developer delivers 'PC-over-IP'.

If Teradici's PC-over-IP solution takes off, you will no longer keep a computer in your office. Instead, you'll be dialing up a remote computer when you need one. You'll tap into the horsepower of a workstation located elsewhere to rotate, render, and modify your CATIA models and SolidWorks assemblies, using nothing but a keyboard, a mouse, and a monitor.p>Dial a PC
In branding its solution as PC-over-IP, Teradici is comparing its product to Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP). Just as VoIP lets people send and receive audio via the Internet, Teradici's PC-over-IP lets people send and receive code streams via a network using its compression technology.

As seen in the diagram below, Teradici provides a PC-over-IP host card, to be embedded into the host unit (most likely a workstation), and a desktop portal, a device slightly bigger than a hardcover book, equipped with a Teradici processor chip, 4 USB ports, and an HD audio output, as seen in the second image. The desktop portal and the host unit are linked via LAN, WAN, or a wireless network, allowing the user to communicate with the back-end PC. The desktop portal comes with DVI support, so users who crave a bigger display area can connect it to their TV monitors.

Teradici's PC-over-IP technology lets you connect to a remote computer via using a small desktop device. Click for a larger view..
The desktop unit is equipped with USB ports, HD audio output, and DVI support. Click for a larger view.

Things to Consider
Several characteristics distinguish Teradici's setup from other remote computing products currently on the market. HP's Remote Graphics Software (RGS), which comes with HP's workstation products, lets you use a standard desktop PC as a client to connect to a powerful workstation located elsewhere that functions like a server (for more, read "HP Launches New Thin Client Solution Based on Blade," October 23, 2008). By contrast, Teradici's solution lets you use a small desktop portal without a CPU, GPU, or operating system as a client.

Whereas HP's RGS comes free with the purchase of HP workstations, Teradici's PC-over-IP costs $399 per end point. That means, to have one remote connection, it costs $798 ($399 for a Teradici host card and $399 for a desktop terminal).

So why would you pay roughly the price of a regular PC just to be get a remote connection? Ziad Lammam, Teradici's senior product marketing manager, explained, "There are benefits to PC-over-IP that's difficult to quantify — security and IT maintenance, for example."

For some businesses, the ability to keep all the sensitive data in a secure location far removed from the employees' desks might justify the investment. For IT managers, the centralized setup is easier to control and troubleshoot, as they won't need to travel to each user's location to fix a bug or upgrade software.

Lammam also pointed out hardware-based remote computing is less prone to data loss than software-based solutions. In Teradici's implementation, Teradici's host card and portal chip handle the compression and decompression, leaving the remote workstation's CPU free for other tasks. In software-based remote computing, the CPU in the server or the backend unit is tasked with handling the compression and decompression.

Though Teradici's current solution requires one host card per desktop portal, Lammam revealed Teradici is developing a host chip that can support multiple portals. Depending on the pricing of this multiportal chip, Teradici's product might become more appealing for budget conscious adopters.

Teradici's desktop portal requires roughly 10-15 watts to operate, Lammam verified. That's a fraction of the approximately 150-175 watts demanded by standard PCs. So if you're dedicated to energy conservation and a greener environment, PC-over-IP is an appealing option.

As sound as the argument for PC-over-IP might be, some engineers could be reluctant to relinquish control over their cherished workhorse, a reassuring presence on their desks. For others, the desk space regained and the lack of clutter might prove a good tradeoff.

Plug-and-Play PC-over-IP
In Samsung's upcoming SyncMaster 930ND 19" LCD monitor, Teradici's PC-over-IP technology is integrated right into the display panel, so you won't even need a desktop portal. You can simply plug your keyboard and mouse into the panel and call up a remote workstation.

Teradici's products are distributed by Leadtek (for Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe), ELSA (for Japan), and EVGA (for the Americas and Western Europe). For a list of original equipment manufacturers offering products with PC-over-IP, visit Teradici's site.

PC-over-IP is perhaps the next phase of the client-server computing model. The movement is likely to gain momentum, along with the proliferation of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud computing (for more, read "Event Report: Autodesk University 2008, Part 2," December 2, 2008). With Intel and NVIDIA in the race to develop multicore CPU and GPU chips (basically, chips that function like a bunch of chips), PC-over-IP promises even better performance in the future. 

You can't compute without computers, but in the future you might not have to make room for a desktop machine or put up with the heat and noise coming from the processor.

Have a Comment? Let's Hear It
Cadalyst executive editor Kenneth Wong explores the innovative use of technology and its implications. Send him e-mail or read his blog and post your thoughts on this topic.

About the Author: Kenneth Wong

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