Interop roundup: A cube-sized PC and an easy way to try SDN

NEW YORK – Small format PCs are getting increasingly powerful, but they still take up real estate on desks.

For real space-saving a number of independent computer companies make mini computers. One is a Utah company called Xi3 Corp., which has shrunk the PC into the size of a couple of paperbacks. One of them was a hit at this week’s Interop trade show.

Utah-based Xi3 Corp. created a cube-sized computer by carving the motherboard into three pieces – one for the processor and two I/O boards with video and USB ports.

Its 5 Series model, launched last November and powered by a dual-core 1.8 GHz AMD processor, can be hung on the back of a monitor to make an all-in-one compute, or used to power kiosks or digital signs. It consumes 20 watts. A single core version sips a mere 8 watts.

Or, as shown Interop, they can be ganged together to create a rolling backup server.

In Canada the US$500 model is distributed by Core Micro Technology.

At Xi3’s stand, chief marketing officer Dave Politis pulled a 5 series apart to show its innards.

“In the U.S., power goes as high as 35 cents a kilowatt hour, so if you’re talking tens of thousands of machines, you could be saving a  million dollars a year by switching over to Xi3’s very energy-efficient platform.”

For those who need more power, the quad-core 7 series with server-like capabilities will be released. It will sport four USB 2.0 and four USB 3.0 ports and four eSATA II ports.

Meanwhile next month the flatter and almost-pocketable  Z3RO Pro will be released with  a dual-core 1.66 GHz G-series AMD CPU, integrated graphics, 4 GB of memory and up to 512 GB of flash storage.

It also has an HDMI and a mini DisplayPort for two monitors. Like the 5 Series, it comes with a version of SUSE Linux.

In addition to enterprise uses, the units are also being pitched at gamers.

Politis said the idea for the modular chassis came a decade ago to the founder, then an IT consultant building white box PCs.  A woman walked into his store with child under one arm and a tower computer under the other walked in. She plunked the computer on the counter and asked “Why can’t this be smaller?”

The computers were one of several new products announced at the show.

Montreal’s Elfiiq Networks, which makes link load balancers, said its firmware has now been upgraded to what it calls Flex Multipath Routing. Organizations who need several IP feeds from different service providers for redundancy can now have the pipes aggregated.

The result, says the company is providing more bandwidth as many paths can be used between sites, while lowering bandwidth costs. Elfiq balancers include SSL VPN, eliminating the need for MPLS links or leased lines.

“It simplifies their wide area networking,”   said Chris Harren, the company’s U.S. sales manager.

The capability is available for all Elfiq load balancers, from the LB600 to the LB5500.

Elfiq products are sold through resellers.

Netsocket announced its virtual network solution for enterprise campuses and distributed LAN and edge networking environments to help bring software-defined networking outside the data centre.

It does it through its vFlow Controller, its vFlow Switch and its vNet Commander Basic orchestration application. The company also announced an enterprise edition of vNet Commander.

Netsocket says its three-tier SDN architecture interconnects branches in a few minutes.

vNet Commander handles the automated deployment, installation, configuration and orchestration of virtualized networks from a central console, the company said in a news release.

In a statement company CEO Fletcher Hamilton said the solution is an “extremely low risk and low cost path to try SDN virtualized networking and to evaluate the benefits.”

Enterprises can try SDN in a branch, he said, and if it is satisfactory can then be spread across the organization.

-Interface Masters Technologies, announced  a high density modular passive fibre TAP. The Niagara 3225PT provides up to 25 passive TAP segments supporting 1Gb and 10Gb fibre, full duplex, zero packet loss, and passive network monitoring of critical network links.

The TAP operates passively in stealth operation and requires no power supply. It can support a wide range of network types including 1GbE, 10Gb and 40Gb multi-mode and single mode fiber.

The 3225PT provides a copy of data flowing across a data link to out of band security and network monitoring tools.

Emulex Corp. announced the new EndaceFlow 3040 NetFlow generator appliance, for 10Gb Ethernet networks.

It generates 100 percent accurate NetFlows on up to four Ethernet links at speeds up to 10Gb per second (10Gbps) line rate, the company said, speeding detection, identification and resolution of critical security and network issues.

It has a list price of US$52,000.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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