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Thin client powers up with Raspberry Pi 4

Aug 28, 2019 — by Eric Brown 5,420 views

ClearCube announced a “C4Pi Thin Client” built around the Raspberry Pi 4 that runs Stratodesk’s Linux-based Cloud Desktop OS with support for Citrix HDX, VMWare, and Microsoft VDI stacks.

In conjunction with this week’s VMWorld 2019 conference in San Francisco, ClearCube has announced the imminent release of a thin client based on the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. The C4Pi Thin Client updates its C3xPi Thin Client, which is built around the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.

C4Pi Thin Client
(click images to enlarge)

The C4Pi Thin Client is designed for remote access client applications in “enterprise desktops, state and local government, hospitals, financial services, retail, kiosk applications, and more,” says ClearCube. Although the main focus is remotely-managed desktop sessions using virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platforms, the device can also be used as a standalone RPi 4-based mini-PC for “networked AI core, smart home hub, and media center usage,” says ClearCube.

One of the key enhancements of the new design is the Raspberry Pi 4’s 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, which should improve the performance of remote desktop virtualization sessions running Windows. Models with 1GB and 2GB RAM are also available.


Thin Client

The design has grown increasingly less curvy since the original, RPi 3 Model B based C3Pi Thin Client — the C4Pi is now a plain black 4.2 x 2.8 x 1.4-inch, 86-gram box. The 0 to 50ºC tolerant system now offers a fan and heatsink and is designed for “maximum ventilation.”

The fan is needed to cool the Raspberry Pi 4’s 28nm fabricated Broadcom BCM2711 SoC, which features 4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A72 cores with a claimed two to four times the performance of the RPi 3B+. The SBC can output 4k video at 60fps with the help of its VideoCore IV GPU. Performance at that resolution can be shaky, but ClearCube says that the C4Pi “reduces CPU consumption by offloading video decompression from its CPU to its native hardware using H.265 decoding.”

The RPi 4 supplies dual-band 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0 radios plus a native GbE port with the official PoE HAT for Power-over-Ethernet. You also get a USB Type-C port for powering the unit, as well as 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 2x micro-HDMI, and an audio jack.

Raspberry Pi 4

All these features are exposed on the C4Pi, which ships with a 16GB microSD card loaded with Stratodesk’s Linux-based ClearCube Cloud Desktop OS. The distribution integrates support for VMware Horizon, Citrix HDX, Microsoft RDP, “and a wide range of terminal services and virtual desktops,” says ClearCube. Cloud Desktop OS provides VMware connectivity through the Blast Extreme protocol for connecting to virtual desktops, terminal services, and backend systems, “allowing enterprises to reap the advantages of VDI client computing and management instantaneously.”

Cloud Desktop OS enables administrators to manage and connect thin clients to hosted desktops, cloud-hosted desktops, or centrally hosted applications over a secure connection. Deployment options include installing Cloud Desktop OS locally or network booting “for zero-client-like security.”

There’s also a browser-based administration program called ClearCube Cloud Desktop Management. Features include real-time monitoring and tactical overview, job scheduling, asset management, and peripheral inventory.

Further information

The unpriced C4Pi Thin Client will be available in the coming weeks in conjunction with the anticipated availability of Raspberry Pi 4 capable updates from major VDI providers, says ClearCube. More information may be found in the C4Pi Thin Client announcement and product page.

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