Eliminating the noisy computer

This company called ClearCube just got $25 million in funding.

That is nice, but it is the technology that is neat. They have some sort of little box that acts as a thin client for your PC. Essentially, you put the CPU and storage on these blades in a rack, and you use ethernet and fiber to talk to these thin clients on the desktop. Tada, no more noisy, bulky PC.

This has been an interest of mine for quite a long time. Back in 1990, when I was working at University of Miami, I worked for a guy who was really into this. He had our monitors and our keyboards extended out to our desks, and our MicroVAX workstations in the computer room. This was easily about 30′ of cable. I had a mono monitor with keyboard and mouse and he had a nice color monitor. It worked really well. The trick was to get the right COAX for the video.

Come to think of it, the idea probably wasn’t so strange for him. He was used to terminals prior to that. You always had the monster computer in one room and the termnials spread out every where else. This was just a small extension of that concept.

Today, however, the PC design is still the same as 20+ years ago. You have a detached keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Then you have your big box. If you wanted to extend it, you would run into problems because they don’t make video and USB systems that can extend that far.

I’ve tried the PC Anywhere, VNC, etc. solutions. Those work ‘OK’, but they pale in comparison to normal PC usage.

The only hope is the new DVI standard. Eventually, someone will figure out how to convert that inexpensively to optical, which will allow it to move over fiber. Then you can just run an 8 strand plastic fiber to your computer and have your PC sitting in a closet somewhere. Maybe you can use it to heat your water :-).

This may happen sooner than you think with the convergence of PC’s with consumer electronics. People will want their noisy PC’s to be far from their HD screen.

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