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 -