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IBM to stack PCs, sardine-style

Big Blue unveils a new workstation whose guts can be packed away in a storage area, freeing up valuable desk space for employees.

IBM has found a new way to reduce desk clutter for space-starved workers: Hide the PC.

IBM announced on Tuesday its Intellistation R Pro workstation, the guts of which can be packed away in a storage area. According to IBM, this approach offers employees more room to work and gives companies the ability to pack more workers into high-rent but low-space areas, such as stock-trading floors.

That is because the Intellistation R Pro is only 1.75 inches high, allowing it to be plugged into a rack with up to 42 other machines. The rack can be located in an out-of-the-way area, according to IBM.

Thus, the only desktop hardware required--aside from displays, keyboards and mice--is a small box that connects to the remote workstation.

Companies that are fighting for space in crowded areas, such as stock-trading floors, have called for smaller and smaller desktop PCs, IBM executives said. But instead of decreasing the size of the tower or other PC chassis, IBM chose the rack-mounted route, basing the R Pro on its existing E-server X30 chassis.

IBM's Intellistation R Pro "What we came up with conceptually was: Let's not make it smaller. Let's take it off the desktop completely," said Richard Rudd, lead product manager for Intellistation.

In a related space-saving matter, IBM also announced Tuesday a 20.8-inch flat-panel display. The T210 display, priced at about $6,000, will offer about 40 percent higher resolution than other screens available on the market, said Tom Martin, program director of flat-panel displays in IBM's PC division.

Whereas most flat panels offer 1,024-by-768 pixel resolution, the T210 will offer 2,048-by-1,536 resolution. It will be available by May, an IBM spokesperson said.

The Intellistation offers a dual Pentium III setup, 256MB of SDRAM, either an 18GB SCSI or 20GB IDE hard drive, CD-ROM drive, built-in Ethernet and a Matrox G200 graphics card capable of supporting up to four displays.

Pricing isn't final yet, but the workstation will likely range between $4,500 and $5,000, an IBM spokesperson said. It will ship in April.