Over the course of the past few months, NVIDIA has been developing a comprehensive desktop stable image platform that addresses the stability, reliability, and total cost of ownership requirements within the small-medium sized business, educational, and government markets. NVIDIA will be publicly launching their new Business Platform initiative next week and is determined to pursue these markets aggressively in North America and Europe. These various market segments represent about 20 million unit sales annually with Intel being the dominant player within this stable image platform market.

On a much too frequent basis, IT departments have to re-qualify hardware configurations and then update software images because of constant hardware/software changes within the marketplace. This lack of platform configuration stability forces additional testing, increases network complexity and manageability, creates additional training, and slows the implementation process of new PCs throughout the organization. This leads to increased product transition, support, image, and network management costs along with additional administrative expenses. One of the most cost-effective ways to control and reduce these costs is by migrating to a stable image platform.

What is a stable image platform? A stable image platform is essentially a standardized hardware and software solution that balances system performance and productivity against the need for greatly reduced administrative and support costs. A stable image program is generally based on a yearly cadence that includes a 3-month platform evaluation period, 12-month production cycle, and a 24-month support schedule.

The main advantage of this platform is in the design, qualification, and availability of a hardware and driver configuration that can be procured and deployed over a set 12-month cycle. This standardized hardware and driver configuration allows the IT group to design and deploy a software image that can be utilized throughout the 12-month production cycle without worry of compatibility issues between the hardware and software configurations.

Why is a stable image platform important? The ability to reduce and control the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for an organization's PC population over its life cycle is critical in today's IT department. Instability of the platform, lack of security, stability of supply, or varying hardware and software configurations can impose a tremendous cost and manageability burden within the IT department.

Although research numbers vary, it is generally assumed that only 20% to 30% of a PC's cost of ownership is attributed to the actual procurement and disposal of the platform. The remaining 70% to 80% of a PC's cost of ownership is attributed to the management of the platform over its life-cycle. These management costs are attributed to operational aspects such as training and energy, but the majority of costs are associated with the administration and management support of hardware/software upgrades across the network. Research has shown that by implementing a stable image platform program, it can reduce the life-cycle cost of a typical PC platform anywhere from 10% to 55% over a three-year period.

What are the benefits of a stable image platform? In an era where networked PCs have become a standard fixture in the majority of businesses, educational institutions, and governmental offices, the need to standardize and easily manage these platforms has increased exponentially over the past few years. The cost benefits of having a standardized platform program are significant for a typical organization at this time and are realized through a reduction of platform configurations, testing and qualification times, and simplification of PC management.

Since networks have become so prevalent within these market sectors, the ability to properly manage, maintain, and upgrade these systems is extremely important. When utilizing a stable image platform across the network, it greatly simplifies the ability of the system administrator to manage these assets from a centralized or even remote location. This leads to a reduction in administrative costs and the ability to quickly roll out minor patches, software application updates, or even new images without worrying about the hardware configuration. The result is a network of standardized PCs that are easily managed, stable, secure, and upgradeable for less cost than platforms consisting of multiple hardware and software configurations.

Other benefits include the ability to quickly roll out additional platforms if the user base increases or for replacement of older platforms. The purchase and storage of replacement platforms or components is greatly reduced based upon a common and stable hardware platform. The ability to upscale the base system by upgrading the CPU, memory, or installing a certified discreet graphics card for users requiring additional capabilities, yet retaining the same base platform and driver set, is an additional benefit.

Now, let's take a closer look at the features that the NVIDIA Business Platform offers and a comparative look at Intel's current and future offerings.

NVIDIA Business Platform Features
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  • Schadenfroh - Thursday, March 30, 2006 - link

    I have been using my nvidia firewall for over a year without any problems. Reply
  • FinFET - Thursday, March 30, 2006 - link

    From what I read "AMT enables IT staff to diagnose, repair, and manage remote PCs regardless of OS or system state."

    So is this basically like ILO (Integrated Lights Out) where I can have BIOS Level access to the machine, essentially IP-KVM?

    If so does the current iteration of boards with NVIDIA ActiveArmor support this type of feature?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, March 30, 2006 - link

    quote:

    If so does the current iteration of boards with NVIDIA ActiveArmor support this type of feature?


    The NVIDIA nForce boards and software being designed for this stable image platform fully support WOL/PXE. This offering is basically an updated version of the WOL/PXE capabilities provided on the nForce Professional 2050/2200 boards with specialized driver and software support.
    Reply
  • tokath - Thursday, March 30, 2006 - link

    They don't support anything close to the level AMT but there is likely an option that will allow ASF to be enabled if the vendor wants it.

    AMT is not essentially an IP-KVM because you do not have direct access to the system, keyboard, mouse, video. Rather AMT requires a separate application such as LANDesk to allow you to control the more advanced aspects, when you access the system remotely without any extra software you can do simple things like turn the system on/off, reboot, view temps and check the OS state. Because the Intel LOM (PRO/1000 PM) that has AMT also supports IDE-R and SOL you can do some very useful things like boot from a remote CD to restore the system. Theoretically vendors can create custom software to do a lot more through AMT.

    That said I sure hope NVIDIA LOMs will support ASF (preferably 2.0), there are alot of business that use ASF.
    Reply

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