NComputing Enters Chip Market, Targets Disruptive, Low-Cost Clients

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

NComputing's CEO is targeting client devices that cost less than $100 -- something he says will be one of the most disruptive technologies with regard to economics of the industry that we’ve ever seen. Here's why he thinks that's good for VARs.

NComputing is moving beyond the virtual desktop business and into the chip business with the release of its Numo family of chips that gives any device access to the Internet or a PC.

NComputing told Channel Insider that the chips can be used to power enterprise applications such as Windows-based virtual desktops and can also be used for consumer applications such as accessing Google from a smart TV.

The dynamics of low-cost devices such as the ones NComputing is enabling with Numo is enough to strike terror into the heart of some in the industry, including some channel partners, NComputing Chairman and CEO Stephen Dukker told Channel Insider.

"The message under the message is that this is about to go mainstream and this is going to be one of most disruptive technologies with regard to economics of the industry that we’ve ever seen," he said.

Dukker noted that while the economics of thin clients and virtual desktops doesn’t seem to make immediate sense for channel partners, when partners look at the broader opportunity, it is made for the channel.

"A channel partner would say, why on earth would we sell a $150 client versus a $500 PC?" Dukker told Channel Insider. "We are used to making no money at all selling computers. This is very unhealthy."

But such low-cost devices give customers more money to spend on services, which provide channel partners with much higher margins.

"If your customer is a school and you save the school 75 percent, they spend that on something else," Dukker said. "They don’t write a check and send it back to their governor."

Devices based on Numo can hit a sub-$100 threshold, getting to the point where service providers may give them away in exchange for signing a service contract, much like mobile phone carriers do with cell phones and smartphones.

NComputing said that Numo combined with NComputing vSpace virtualization software supports Windows, Linux and Android user experiences with multimedia and wireless support. Devices powered by Numo can connect directly to the Web and access Internet-based cloud services, eliminating the need for local servers, and can take advantage of the growing field of Android applications.

NComputing said that enterprise devices powered by Numo include ultra-low-cost virtual desktop thin clients, cloud-based workstations, network monitors and mobile devices such as netbooks, notebooks, smartbooks and tablets. NComputing has struck an initial deal with LG Electronics that will place the devices in its displays to enable them to be used as access devices.

As a case in point, NComputing's partnership with LG Electronics puts the Numo chips directly in the monitors of up to 24 inches in size, turning them into Internet access devices.

NComputing said it will announce additional partners this summer, including industry-leading PC, monitor and TV manufacturers.

Dukker told Channel Insider that the PC maker is among the top four in market share.

Numo is a system on chip (SoC) that features a dual-core ARM CPU; embedded media processors supporting dynamic bandwidth management, multiple protocols and codecs including UXP and H.264; a Windows-compliant graphics subsystem; and a complete complement of device interfaces for graphics, serial, parallel, USB, SD, I2S, I2C and more for integration with enterprise and consumer devices, according to NComputing. The chips will also support Microsoft's recently announced RemoteFX technology, when available.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com