Samsung outs Power-over-Ethernet 'Zero Client'

Samsung has announced its latest 'Zero Client,' a new form of thin client that is capable of operating without the use of a mains socket thanks to Cisco's UPOE technology.

The Samsung NC220 looks like your average 22-inch business-themed monitor, and for the most part it is: using Samsung's latest LED BLU technology for bright image reproduction on a slimline monitor, the low-power display is every inch a business device.

Looking at the rear, however, users will find ports that a normal monitor wouldn't need: as well as USB, there's an Ethernet port that reveals the true purpose of the device as the latest in thin-client technology.

Using Cisco's UPOE - Universal Power Over Ethernet - technology, companies can deliver up to 60W of power over existing Ethernet cabling alongside the usual data connectivity. While normal POE technologies allow for 30W, the additional headroom has allowed Samsung to create a thin client that requires only a single Ethernet connection to operate.

Dubbed 'Zero Client,' the 'monitor' has no CPU or operating system as you may commonly understand it. Instead, it uses a PC-over-IP application-specific processor to decode the signals sent from a central server, allowing it to 'run' any operating system supported by the main system.

The result is a surprisingly fast 'desktop' that runs Windows 7 without the need to be connected to the mains.

While Samsung has produced 'Zero Client' systems before - such as the NC190 and NC240 PCoIP monitors - the NC220 is the company's first to run entirely from a power-over-Ethernet source. "Now every workstation can leverage the power and speed of the company’s centralised server," vice president of display sales Jeong-Hwan Kim claimed at the device's unveiling, "while reducing energy costs and creating a more beautiful, less cluttered environment."

"Cisco UPOE doubles the amount power delivered over the Ethernet to support many more devices, including the Samsung zero client desktop virtualisation devices," explained Cisco's Jeff Reed. "Now the same Ethernet cable that provides network access will power Samsung’s industry leading virtual desktop devices -dramatically simplifying deployment and management of these devices."

The downside to all this technology is likely to be the price: with the company's existing NC240 PCoIP display - which doesn't have the Cisco UPOE support, but is two inches bigger than the NC220 - starting at $600, Zero Clients still require a higher initial outlay than bare-bones PCs in order to take advantage of the purported savings in energy use and maintenance. With this latest model requiring a UPOE compatible Cisco Catalyst switch, the outlay will be even higher.

Samsung has yet to indicate when the NC220 will start shipping.