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HP plans to use blade servers in combination with thin clients to serve as PC replacements in the coming years. The company has revealed plans to push clunky hardware off the worker's desk and into the server room, hoping to make company-wide PC management easier, The New York Times and InfoWorld report.

Shane Robison, CTO at HP, announced these plans at the company's financial analyst conference in New York. HP also announced a new telco cover server, which we will get to a little later.

The idea of thin client computing is not new. Oracle and Sun Microsystems have been touting thin clients as a Microsoft killer for years, but the monopoly shows little sign of a slowdown.

Still, HP plans to give thin clients a go, selling racks of server blades to handle the compute functions and trimmed down clients for user access. Ideally, customers should be able to save money this way by managing large numbers of PCs from one place.

While the thin-client does have its merits, signs that it will catch on have been few and far between.

HP is not providing much in the way of details on the thin-client just yet. It isn't clear whether the blades will be serving up a Windows thin client, or a stateless Unix environment like Sun's SunRay client, or both. HP didn't say.

In a separate announcement, HP did shed more light on its telco server plans. It has rolled out the cc3310 server to try and tempt network equipment sellers to pick Lintel systems over popular Unix on RISC kit.

The cc3310 is based on Intel's TIGPR2U server and ships with dual 2.4GHz Xeon chips, running Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The kit meets the Level 3 NEBS standard for withstanding hazardous conditions such as earthquakes, fires or aerial assaults.

HP already sells PA-RISC and NonStop teclo servers but is pushing for customers to pick up Linux on Intel instead. HP is trying to shift customers over to Itanic-based systems and plans to roll out telco servers with the chip later on.

Intel is so bullish on HP's role in the telco space that it named HP as the first member of the Intel Communications Alliance (ICA). We are told this is a collection of vendors "who share a common vision on the transition to standards-based modular platforms."

Too bad Itanic is not a standard in any way, shape or form.

HP, however, is determined to make Itanic rise and go after telco market leader Sun. With the low power version of Itanium - Deerfield, expected this year - and a carrier-grade Linux, HP may make its presence felt.

"Part of the issue with Itanium for telcos today is the cost, power, cooling and form factor," said Gordon Haff at Illuminata . Deerfield may well be a better fit when it arrives, and I could definitely see HP having a strong telco play with Deerfield and Linux if they keep working on putting resources into meeting telco-specific requirements,"

Haff, however, added that it will be hard to displace Sun given UltraSPARC's solid balance between performance and power consumption. ®

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New York Times
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