A New Rasperry Pi Device Hits the VDI Market

NComputing's RX300 joins an increasingly crowded field.

NComputing has just announced a new thin client device, the RX300, designed to enhance vSpace Pro 10, its operating system virtualization and partitioning (OSVP) computing environment and provide a device allowing access to cloud-based services. vSpace Pro is an unusual product that creates a multi-user computing environment based on a Windows-based desktop or laptop system (see Simplifying Virtual Desktop Infrastructure for additional information.) The company's goal is to reduce the cost of computing for SMBs or departments of larger enterprises.

What is the RX300?
NComputing has taken advantage of a very low cost Raspberry PI to create the RX300, a thin client device that can also work as an inexpensive Linux-based workstation or cloud-access device. The company says that RX300 devices, combined with NComputing's vSpace Pro 10, enables SMB and education to run and centrally manage hundreds of high-performance PC-like Windows desktops, with added benefits including full motion high-quality HD multimedia playback with vCAST streaming technology.

NComputing RX300 Features Here are the primary features of the RX300:

  • RX300 costs $99 (Includes one-year subscription to vSpace Pro 10)
  • Optimized to support access to vSpace Pro 10 (NComputing's OSVP product)
  • Supports vCAST HD video streaming and health monitoring
  • Support for two modes:
    • Thin-client mode. Virtual Windows desktop session via vSpace Pro 10
    • Raspbian Linux mode. Access to native OS with programming languages​
  • Dual monitor configuration offering, which provides additional screen real estate
  • Support for both WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 networking

The industry has seen the introduction of very low cost, single board computers that were designed to support hobbyists and education. Although Raspberry PI was one of the first of these devices that have been made availability commercially, a number of others have been announced. Here's a small sample of these offerings:

  • Banana Pi from Lemaker.org offers the same board layout as the original Raspberry PI, and supports the same add-on modules. For $50, the board has a dual-core 1 GHz processor, twice the RAM as the Raspberry Pi and an on-board microphone.
  • BeagleBone Black is priced at $55. It has a faster processor than the original Raspberry Pi and 4GB of on-board storage.
  • The MinnowBoard Max is Intel's entry into this market. The device is offered as an open source project (the schematics of the board are available) that can support Linux or Android. This $99 device is based upon a low-power 1.91 GHz processor and Intel HD Graphics. A $138 dual-core version is available as well.
  • SolidRun's HummingBoard includes a quad-core processor, four times the memory of the Rasberry Pi, and integrated WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

These devices, typically, are based on ARM-based processors, a modest amount of memory, a few networking interfaces, and a few USB ports that can be used to support thumb drives. They typically cost less than $150, and often as little as $35. Although they were designed for education, these devices have been used to create an amazing array of clever computing environments ranging from in-vehicle computing systems, instrumentation for aviation, medical equipment and, in several instances, inexpensive super computing systems for academic and research institutions.

NComputing saw that these devices could be the basis of an inexpensive, but quite useful, thin client device that can round out a desktop system supporting a multi-user OSVP computing environment.

Dan's Take: Useful in the Right Environment
While this device and NComputing's vSpace Pro can't be seen as the answer to every desktop or laptop computing environment problem, it's an interesting approach that could be very useful to organizations that don't want or need the cost and complexity of providing each and every staff member a desktop or laptop systems. Since the RX300 device can be used as a Linux workstation, it could be a tool for companies wanting a cloud-based DaaS environment as well.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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