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Cool tiny PCs

Yesterday I have discussed about small, low power computers. While I was researching on the technology I found a number of cool tiny PCs in the market. Although I do not opt for them due to their premium prices, they deserve a honorable mention here.

Before I start, note that I have excluded the popular mini-"cube" PC such as Shuttle XPC. These cube are intend to squeeze the latest greatest hardware into a small box. Instead the focus is on low powered and even smaller PCs.

One of the pioneer of tiny PCs, Cappuccino PC is unbelievably small (157x146x46 mm). There is a series of design using mainly Celeron and Pentium processors. It is a complete system including I/O ports, CD-ROM and hard disk. The PC itself is only about the size of a CD-ROM.

OEM from Taiwan manufacturer Saint Song.

Nimble V5 is positioned as a video conference system, complete with built-in speakerphone. It is tiny, measuring only 2" x 7.7" x 7.7" (in). It consumes 12W and runs nearly silent.

A new entry NorhTec MicroServer HP is a book size box measures only 5.25 x 6.75 x 2.15 inches. It consumes 12.5 Watts with solid state drive and 15 Watts with hard disk. It uses a fan-less VIA processors.

The product that excites me most is the hoojum cubit3. With an anodized aluminum case in various colors, its design is even cooler than a Mac. A great computer to match your modernist home or office. The dimensions is at 147mm(H) x 210mm(W) x 210mm(D),

I find them perfect as Linux based server or intelligent appliances, although their primary market still seems to be as Windows desktop.

2004.01.11 [] - comments

 

Low power computer, disruptive technology?

I am looking at VIA technologies' C3 processor and its mini-itx form factor mainboards. It is a low power consumption x86 compatible processor. These little CPU's performance trails mainstream processors. Their prices are relatively high (very high when other components for a miniature system, such as 2.5" HDD, are accounted). So why bother? C3 are designed for low power consumption, low heat dissipation. This allows them to be packaged in small enclosure. They need small or no cooling fan. So they can run silently.

The trade off for low power consumption is the performance. C3's performance often trail others by a large margin. Is there any applications that can can fill? It was found in some Walmart consumer PCs. But even more interestingly on non PC systems, such as the Emergecore small office server (Crusoe based), or Mirra Personal Server, a turnkey backup system. Some enthusiasts are even using it to build PVR. I plan to build myself one to host web and email and to run an experimental network agent. It should have more than enough processing power for that and should consume much less power than my bulky AMD server.

Now that Pentium's performance has really exceed most user's demand. Would PC users turn their attention to small and silent PC? Would intelligent appliances become a major for CPU maker? Could this low performance CPU become a disruptive technology that challenges Intel's dominance?

2004.01.10 [] - comments

 

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