IBM offers Virtual Infrastructure Access service through its consulting arm, IBM Global Services, and through various branches of a company's sales force. The idea of using less energy but keeping end users satisfied with a thin desktop device "resonates with financial services, education, retail, and small and medium business," said Arthur Chiang, IBM's VP of end-user services.
Wyse recently updated its thin client operating system, Wyse Thin OS 6.3, to allow it to monitor what type of content a server is preparing to send to the user. If it detects that it's seeking to deliver CPU-intensive multimedia, video, or graphics, it can tell the server to send the raw content over the wire to the thin client and let the client processor do the multimedia-type processing.
Thin clients have no disk drives, and their processors tend to be the processors used in PCs one or two generations ago, which keeps the thin client's cost down. But they often come with a graphics coprocessor with plenty of horsepower to make the video look like full motion, rather than jerky motion, explained Jeff McNaught, chief strategy officer for Wyse, in an interview.
The modern thin client usually includes a chip set that includes eight or nine different chips, and delivers a computing experience similar to what the users are accustomed to with their own PCs. But the device is priced at $250 to $500, as opposed to the cost of an intense graphics-capable PC.
McNaught also cited figures where 1,000 thin clients in a study consumed 7.14 kilowatts of electricity per hour, compared with 1,000 PCs, which consumed 70.5 kilowatts. (A thin client runs at 6.6 to 7 watts per hour, compared with a PC at 240 to 280 watts per hour.) Over the course of a year, the difference in electrical bills is $1,318 for 1,000 thin clients versus $13,111 for 1,000 PCs, he said.
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