BLOG: Tom Nikl

How System-on-Chip (SoC) Thin Clients Can Save You A Bundle


Desktop virtualization can be expensive. Everyone knows and understands that. But in spite of the often hefty price tag, we deploy it because we know that at the end of the day it’s going to yield more benefits than staying with the status quo of distributed PCs. But, what happens when organizations take the plunge into desktop virtualization but leave those distributed PCs as glorified thin clients to access a user’s virtual desktop and applications? Well, they’re basically throwing money down the toilet.

Yep, that’s right: money down the toilet. Because, at the end of the day IT still has to manage those distributed PCs in, at the very least, all of the following ways:

  • Operating Systems require patching to make sure the PCs themselves are not vulnerable to outside attacks. And don’t even get me started if those PCs are still running Windows XP.
  • End point software needs to be kept up to date as well (for example, Citrix Receiver or VMWare View client) for an end user to get their virtual desktop and applications properly.
  • Moving parts break and we all know that PCs have a lot of them. IT stays stuck monitoring, maintaining, and replacing hardware when a PC inevitably breaks.  

Those are just three of the most common support pitfalls that occur when IT tries to leverage old PCs to deliver virtual resources to end users. Now, to be fair, some users will probably still require a PC (namely, a laptop) when they are more mobile than they are local. But, for any workforce that resides within the local walls of an organization, distributed PCs don’t make much sense anymore.

It isn't just logistics and support where PCs don’t make sense – it is money, too. And even if you remove all the ongoing maintenance costs associated with PCs and break it down just to the acquisition cost, a cheap PC is still going to cost you more than a powerful thin client – as long as you pick the right thin client. You see, even though they look similar, not all thin clients are made the same. Many thin clients are actually more like a mini PC with multiple moving parts and running a Windows-based operating system. All of which can hinder the benefits you’d expect from a thin client and without saving you any money.

This is where System-on-Chip (SoC) thin clients truly differentiate from the rest of the thin client pack. System-on-Chip thin clients leverage a Linux-based chip inside them. Right off the bat, this makes it more affordable than the Windows-based thin clients (which require Windows licensing fees). For Citrix virtualization deployments, a good SoC thin client has Citrix Receiver for Linux baked right into it, which means you can literally drop one of those thin clients on a user’s desk, attach the mouse, monitor and keyboard, and let that user instantly have access to all of their virtual Citrix resources.

Believe it or not, it gets even better for a select few SoC thin clients. Many SoC thin clients are still built with parts from a number of different manufacturers and then pieced together and include multiple virtualization protocols (which sometimes lead to more complicated setup and management). A few thin client vendors, however, own the intellectual property and manufacturing of their System-on-Chip entirely and choose to support one protocol per device. This gives those vendors ultimate control and flexibility to build the right thin clients to meet the specific needs of virtualization customers (in our case, Citrix virtualization customers) at an exceptionally affordable price. Those tailor-made, wholly owned and manufactured System-on-Chip thin clients are leading the way to reducing IT headaches and cost with their virtual deployments.

The N-series from NComputing is one such line of thin clients aimed at solely supporting a Citrix virtualization deployment. The N-series leverages the Numo™ 3 System-on-Chip (SoC) which is owned and manufactured entirely by NComputing. Since the N-series was optimized to deliver only Citrix virtual desktops and applications, it has Citrix Receiver for Linux baked right into its Numo™ 3 chip without any other competing virtualization protocols. When you combine all of these factors, like steering away from PC management and avoiding costly Windows-based thin clients, the N-series is the ultimate solution for any Citrix customer looking to deliver a first class virtual experience to end users at an exceptional cost.

Fore more information about the N-series, please visit


About the author

Tom Nikl
Tom Nikl has ten years of experience doing high tech product management and product marketing here in the Silicon Valley. Tom holds a Computer Science degree from San Jose State University. Outside of high-tech, Tom is an avid TV and Disney fan.