One of the advantages of thin client computing is that it minimizes the hardware requirements, at least for the computers at which users actually sit. The server hardware, though, must be heavy duty, at least if it’s to support more than a few users. Thus, you must evaluate your hardware requirements very differently for the two sides of the thin client/server coin. You must also consider the hardware that connects these two sides of the coin, because a deficiency in your network infrastructure will severely degrade a thin client network.
The trickiest part of determining your thin client network’s hardware needs is in deciding what sort of hardware to use on the server. This task is made extremely difficult by the fact that it varies so much depending on the type of work done at your site. Different programs make different demands on memory and CPU time, and these demands scale differently to multiuser loads.
The scaling question is an important one. For instance, suppose you’ve determined, through experimentation, that a desktop system needs a 2-GHz Pentium 4 CPU, 512 MB of RAM, and a 60-GB hard disk to operate comfortably for a typical user. An obvious, but probably wrong, extrapolation would be that a 10-user server would need a 20-GHz Pentium 4 CPU, 5 GB of RAM, and a 600-GB hard disk—10 times the single desktop system’s values. (Of course, some of these specifications, such as a 20-GHz Pentium 4 CPU, can’t be met!) Most desktop computer ...