The palm-sized Plug PC thin client computer from Chip PC
By Paul Ridden
December 21, 2010
Having full-blown computers linked to a central server delivering applications to office workers is so last century. More and more businesses are choosing to deploy thin-client or virtual desktop solutions, where much of the storage and processing needs are met at the data center. Advantages often include low power draw at the user end, low maintenance, and minimal desktop footprint. Chip PC's Plug PC cross-platform thin client or virtual desktop computer solution offers maximum load power consumption of just 3W, is about the same size as a pack of cards, and benefits from a processor architecture that provides the equivalent of 1.8GHz x86 processing power.
The Plug PC's 3 x 2 x 0.9-inch (77 x 52 x 24mm) dimensions and weight of 2 ounces (62g) make it smaller, thinner and lighter than the company's Jack PC solution. It's also better suited to an ever-changing server-based/virtualized/cloud infrastructure and comes with a flexible Linux-based Thinx OS and Windows CE 6.0 R2, cross-platform design.
There's support for the latest Citrix HDX features, including MediaStream, which Chip PC claims "leverages the processing power of the device to render the multimedia content sending the compressed multimedia information directly to the device in its native format."
Within its black and silver enclosure sits a 528 MHz RMI 1250 RISC processor (1.8GHz x86 equivalent), which is said to give the user PC-like in-session performance. The chip includes local multimedia acceleration for powerful multimedia performance at up to 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution. Like the Jack PC, most of the data generated by users would be stored at the data center, so the device itself is provided with 256MB disk-on-chip flash storage and 128MB DDR2 RAM.
Connectivity is provided courtesy of four USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet with auto-negotiate TCP/IP with DNS and DHCP, and DVI-D digital video connection. There's also a couple of audio in/out jacks to the side.
Data center management and entire network monitoring is made possible with the company's Xcalibur Global management suite, which provides for a Microsoft Policy-based, Active Directory rules and permissions structure.
The Windows CE or Linux Plug PC draws just 0.35W of power in deep sleep and 3W power consumption at maximum load. The units come supplied with a wall-mount power supply, but there's also a power-by-monitor option available via the Chip PC USB power cable.
The solution was recently featured on Microsoft's Windows Embedded Green Solutions website, where the Windows CE Plug PC solution was deployed on campus at Lake Land College in the U.S. as part of its efforts to be carbon neutral by 2012.