A request was made to start a new post on Zero Clients, so as forum sponsor we’d thought we’d start it...!
The first thing to point out is that if you ask 5 different thin client manufacturers for a definition of a Zero Client you will get 5 different answers. I will let the other manufacturers add their interpretations as they see fit.
As it is a marketing buzzword there is no “definitive” definition
Axel‘s description of a Zero Client is a terminal that:
1) Has no operating system (stateless)
2) Has no local intelligence
3) Has no local browser
4) All applications are run on the server, or virtual machine
5) Does not need to pull an operating system over the network to boot
As such they are very small, low cost, low power consuming devices, typically 5 watts max.
Zero Clients are a natural response to conventional thin clients which have evolved in many cases to be very similar in complexity (and price) to entry level PCs – the very products thin clients were supposed to replace as much simpler devices.
Our definition applies to the terminal connecting to a conventional Terminal Server/Citrix Server or to a virtual desktop. (ie VM Viewer or Citrix XenDesktop).
As Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is allowing thin clients to operate in areas conventionally proscribed to PCs, this is an area of great interest to many parties. Some of the areas where PCs were traditionally deployed (ie multi-media) will start to be available to thin clients.
Specifically for multimedia there are many competitive and incompatible products vying for this ‘new’ market, but there are two basic architectures.
1) Connection at a VGA level (such as RDP & ICA)
2) Connection at a GPU level (such as VMware’s PCoIP, Microsoft’s announced “Calista”, Citrix’s HDX(?) and various other proprietary offerings).
Microsoft's plan to enter this market next year with their Calista technology will be very significant to all involved - love 'em or loathe 'em - what they do effects everyone. In brief it seems this product will directly support multi-media without the need to have embedded or downloaded codecs in the client . More information below for those interested.
As I am starting to wander off topic I’ll leave the multimedia/VDI discussion for another post.
I look forward to a lively and hopefully constructive debate on the subject of Zero Clients...!