ClearCube Improves Video Distribution From Centralized PC Blade Servers

The new technology compresses full-motion video files so they can be sent over an IP network, making it possible to put desktop terminals in any location.

ClearCube Technology on Monday introduced centralized PC blade servers that distribute video over an IP network, making it possible to locate desktop terminals in any location outside the data center.

ClearCube, which unveiled the new product at the SIFMA Technology Management Conference in New York, previously had a 650-foot limitation between blade servers and terminals if full-motion video was needed. The capability is often used by traders who monitor video broadcasts from Reuters, Bloomberg, and other news agencies, watching for events that could have an impact on financial markets.

The new blades, set for general availability in the third quarter, incorporate PC-over-IP processors from ClearCube partner Teradici, said Tom Josefy, director of product management for ClearCube. The microprocessors compress video files arriving at the server to a size in which they can be sent over an IP network without using an excessive amount of bandwidth. The processor also is embedded in the terminal, where the file is decompressed and displayed. "The chip in the terminal catches the network traffic, reconstitutes the video, and spits it out onto the LCD monitor," Josefy said.

Data traffic between the blades and terminals uses up a considerable amount of bandwidth because the servers also are the engines for making the clients operate as if they were fully functioning PCs. The blades run Intel Core 2 Duo, Xeon, or Pentium 4 processors.

ClearCube's current technology uses a Category 5, or Cat 5, cable between the server and the terminal to deliver video in analog format, as well as all other data. The technology can transmit data up to 155-Mbytes per second over short distances.

By switching to IP and incorporating the Teradici technology, ClearCube customers will be able to deploy terminals in any office outside the data center, and reduce the number of on-site IT employees, Josefy said. The architecture also is better suited for disaster recovery. "It gives customers a lot more flexibility," he said.

Financial services is a key market for ClearCube, whose customers include 60 to 70 firms using tens of thousands of blades, according to Josefy. ClearCube also targets companies using computer assisted design (CAD) systems, the health care industry, and government agencies.

ClearCube sells blades that support four or two terminals. For government agencies, it offers technology that supports fiber optics, which is often a requirement for security, Josefy said. The new blades will sell at a premium of $800 to $1,000 more than ClearCube's current PC blades, which sell for between $1,600 and $3,500 each.

ClearCube plans to continue offering the older, analog technology for the foreseeable future. "We're not replacing it, but we think there will be a gradual changeover (to the new blades)," Josefy said.

Blade servers are a growing segment of the server market. The hardware uses up less space than tower and rack-mount servers, and can reduce maintenance and management costs. Blade servers slide into slots on a chassis and can be easily replaced when they fail, or added if more horsepower is needed.

IBM led the worldwide general server market last year, followed by Hewlett-Packard. Dell also sells blades, along with Sun Microsystems.

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