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One of the knocks against the idea of bladed PCs has been the high costs. ClearCube Technology may finally have that solved.

The Austin, Texas, company on Oct. 2 is unveiling a new offering, the A Series PC blades, which drops the entry point for businesses in half.

“We’ve finally been able to break that price barrier, which we’re hoping will really kick up the adoption [of the company’s technology],” said ClearCube President and CEO Carl Boisvert. “We used to walk away from a lot of markets that are cost-conscious. This is really the first product we can use to go after the desktop replacement market.”

ClearCube’s products are designed to increase the management and security of a company’s PC environment by storing the key computer components—such as the processor, memory and hard drives—on a centrally located server. The user’s keyboard, mouse and monitor are linked to the server via an access device

The company’s current products come in at a cost of between $2,200 to $4,000 per seat, Boisvert said. However, the A Series setup costs between $1,300 and $1,400, and with a ratio of up to six users per server, the cost per seat can be driven down to the $200 range. The new product is available immediately, and can be managed by ClearCube’s Sentral software. It also supports virtualization offerings that can help drive the cost per seat even lower.

“Now we can just go after those markets that are very price competitive,” he said.

ClearCube was able to drop the price in part by bringing more off-the-shelf components to the systems, such as ATX motherboards. The trade-off, he said, is losing density. The current products are in the 3U (5.25-inch) range, while the new A Series is twice that, at 6U (10.5 inches).

“Some customers are OK with that trade-off,” Boisvert said.

Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, said driving down its costs was important for ClearCube. Customers are always keeping an eye on technology that will help them consolidate their environments. In the past, clients had told him that cost was keeping them from taking a longer look at the company.

“One of the most important arguments against them has been price, particularly since they were supposed to be a value,” said Kay, in Wayland, Mass. “This puts them more on par with other desktops.”

The A Series PC blades are combined with the new 18330 I/Port access device. The Model A1010 blade is powered by an Intel Pentium 4 Model 531 chip and offers an 80GB Serial ATA hard drive and 512MB of DDR memory. The desktop environment is delivered via standard Ethernet connections.

The new I/Port uses Transparent Desktop eXtension, or TDX, technology, rather than RDP, or Remote Desktop Protocol, which offers better video and multimedia performance, according to the company. The 183300 I/Port supports not only the new blades but also ClearCube’s existing ones.

The company launched its first PC blade in 2000 and has grown in such markets as health care and financial services. Hewlett-Packard also has since entered the space with its BladeSystem bc1500 blade PC, which is part of its Consolidated Client Infrastructure initiative.

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