There's been a lot of rumors and gossip on Intel's Cedar Trail platform in the blogosphere but here's a new board from Asus that is coming out soon (picture from Computex).
Fanless, Dual Gb Lan, and powered by the D2700 (google to find specs). Onboard PSU (hopefully 12V) and RS232 Serial Port.
Would make for a nice server, to go alongside our mini-itx Xeon offering.
We've been using the 35W i3-2100T in our Aleutia H3 and D3 since the very beginning of March when they became available. A real reason for our excitement over this and the faster i5-2390T (Dual Core 2.7GHz) was that 35W is low enough to be cooled using a grooved case and heatpipes and could be fanless in above average operating temperatures.
We've frequently managed to get 65W TDP processors passively cooled by using massive exposed CPU heatsinks like the Scythe Mugen but that's in a 20 C office and hard to design a small case around (you're stuck using a full-sized tower).
I've blogged about this earlier but we finally have the H3-R (for rugged) in hand, with custom heatpipe for the Intel DH67CF board and featuring up to 16GB RAM, range of SSDs (including 6 Gbps models like the Crucial M4 and Intel 510 and the SLC Intel 311), and some great I/O (USB 3.0 Ports, eSATA, HDMI, Display Port, and DVI-I). We've also customized the backplate to create a tighter fit and keep this more sealed. Peak power consumption is just over 50 Watts.
The Aleutia H3-R is sealed, fanless, and solid state making it ideal for industrial and embedded applications or digital signage applications where people need a bit more performance than Atom can offer.
We'll be selling this as a development kit on our website starting Friday June 24th. We've been doing this for customers that email in but starting Friday, it's official.
- Nano-ITX Board with T56N Fusion APU
- 5A 12V AC Adapter (Channel Well Technology)
- 2GB DDR3 RAM
- VGA Cable (to add second monitor)
- Serial Cable
- Driver CD
We've been following this for some time and now that it's been details have been made public, we can confirm that Aleutia will be releasing a unique PC based around this Sandy Bridge board, the Intel DH61AG Apple Glen board.
As you can see this is a half-height mini-itx board, similar to the Intel D945GSEJT that we use on our T1, and has an onboard power supply. but with superior I/O including:
- DVI Port
- HDMI Port
- Pair of USB 3.0 Ports
- Pair of USB 2.0 Ports (High Current, Fast Charging)
Like the T1 this has two SATA Ports. Unlike the T1 it has:
- Full Height AND Half Height Mini PCIe (ideal for WLAN) slots
- Two DDR3 SO-DIMM Slots with support for up to 16GB of RAM.
We'll be releasing a PC based on this board (Project Vela) but for now we're selling the board itself through our sister site Mini ITX Stop for £84.95:
We've just received a test unit of the fanless Fujitsu D3003-s1 mainboard in their well-ventilated IPC industrial chassis and have a whole video on Youtube as well. The build quality is great and there are a lot of expansion possibilities:
- 2 x Mini PCIe Card Slot
- PCI Card (half height) via riser
- 2.5" drive - mechanical or SSD
Comes with Dual Gigabit LAN ports as well and being based on the AMD T44R APU and AMD Ati 6310 GPU, 1080p playback is flawless.
We'll be selling it this summer as the Aleutia H2 Digital Signage Player with Linux and Windows Embedded Standard 7 OS options. In the meantime, Fusion-philes can enjoy our dual core E-350-based AMD Fusion HTPC, the H1.
A lot of the work we do in the Embedded PC market hinges around SLC flash drives. For consumer applications we use lower cost MLC drives because you get great performance and more space but for a lot of industrial applications there's too much risk of the drives burning out. Algorithms that manage wear leveling have gotten a lot better on the MLC side but for SLC we've really depended on companies like Innodisk whose product line is expensive per GB.
Intel now has a 20GB SLC SSD at about £6 per GB and with much faster performance and we'll soon be offering it on our embedded PC range.
What's really cool about this technology though is that it features SRT (though this requires the Z68 Chipset): you can massively speed up hard drive performance by using this as cache. That is GREAT for a server application and we tested this in-house with our FreeNAS box. You take a low cost 2TB drive and make it perform much faster by writing everything to the SLC drive. You don't have to worry about burn-out because it's SLC. Note: we did this with an Innodisk SLC 1GB eUSB flash module but the principal is the same.
As usual Anandtech has a great writeup which I'd recommend.
This is our best product yet and it offers the best performance per watt of anything we've done. It will succeed the existing P1. With a Dual Core Intel Atom D525 CPU (2 x 1.8GHz) and 4GB of DDR3 RAM it has peak power consumption of just 19W and idle power consumption of 13W. That's testing using a mains AC watt meter with power consumption on DC about 15% lower. This reduced power consumption is achieved by using an Intel embedded chipset (ICH8M) instead of the consumer-oriented Intel NM10 chipset we use on the similar T2 Pro.
It's based on a 3.5" mainboard and is smaller than any of our PCs and has a number of benefits for the marine market:
- Completely Fanless: the case serves as a heatsink, dissipating heat and removing the need for a fan.
- Solid State: available with a range of SSDs to provide a system with no moving parts
- Sealed: most competing marine PCs have ventilation holes but the M1 is fully sealed, protecting it against salty, corrosive air and humidity.
- 4 Com Ports: Boat PCs needs lots of serial RS232 ports to connect to GPS and no one wants to fiddle with USB to serial adapters. The M1 has 4 serial ports.
- -20 C to +45 C Operating Temperature Range: The advanced cooling technology and custom chassis allow for high operating temperature, meaning you can secure this in a cabinet without having to worry about cooling.
- 6-35V Wide Input Power Supply: you don't need a regulator since the M1 can handle your 12V or 24V battery fully charged and nearly empty.
Available later this month from £499 ex VAT.
There are AMD Brazos nettops coming out from Giada, Zotac, and I am sure others. For the DIY market, there are mini-itx AMD Brazos boards coming from a variety of major manufacturers (Gigabyte, Asrock, Asus, etc.).
Because so many of our customers are in the embedded market and design Digital Signage software that is based on the system spec, we've decided to go for a long-life cycle Bill of Materials and have switched the APU to a T56N (2 x 1.6GHz) from the E-350. These components have guaranteed availability through 2016 whereas Brazos could be phased out in a year.
It's still nano-itx and we'll have a VGA port as well as the HDMI port. There are pin headers for an RS232 Port as well. We've tested it with Win7 Home Premium, Win7 Embedded Standard, Ubuntu 10.10, and Android 2.2.
Fanless Set Top Box/Media PC in the works:
We're working with a partner to produce a sealed, black aluminium chassis that would serve us a heatsink and enable this system to be completely fanless.
The system will measure: W: 140mm x D:155mm x H:45mm.
With 4GB RAM and no drive, we'd expect to sell the system for approximately £350.
Board Available on Its Own:
The chief advantages over an Ion 2 Platform are:
- Radeon 6250 IGP: full HD
- Runs cool: 18W TDP, 2 x 1.6GHz CPU
- HDMI, VGA Port
- DDR3 RAM (faster, lower cost). The board has one DDR3 SO-DIMM Slot which can take up to 4GB of RAM.
- Long Life Cycle - available through 2016
- Low Cost
We spent March 1st and 2nd at Europe's largest Embedded PC show, looking at all sorts of low power, industrial grade components to help develop our product roadmap. A few of the highlights:
- AMD Embedded G-Series Technology: Full 1080p playback, low power consumption and fanless with either a passively cooled T56N Dual Core (2 x 1.6GHz) 18W APU or the single core T40N (1.2GHz) 9W APU. G-Series uses long life cycle chipset with availability through 2016. We'll post more about this soon.
- Intel Tunnel Creek: Intel basically sees their Tunnel Creek processors as a defensive move against ARM which is moving past 1GHz and getting more support. These are available through 2018, are super low power (5W system power consumption), and super low TDP (1-2W). You don't need a heatsink to passively cool them - just need some foam to connect them to an aluminium case. Plus the temperature range is ridiculous at -30 C to +85 C.
I think the picture says it all folks - this will form the smallest PC we'v ever done. The board is less than 5 inches on each side and we're having a custom aluminium enclosure built that measures 13.5 x 13.5 x 5.5 cm. Yes it has a fan and yes we may produce a larger fanless version but the performance with two AMD Bobcat cores (2 x 1.6GHz) and the Ati 6310 onboard GPU have exceeded Ion 2 performance.
This comes with 4 x USB 2.0 Ports, 2 x HDMI ports, Gb Lan, and onboard PSU.
We've now released this with the G-Series T56N APU and it's on sale:
Flash 10.1 provided hardware acceleration on Windows and OS X which meant you could use the GPU and not the processor to do the heavy lifting on a 1080p Flash video. This was great for Ion and Ion 2 netbooks which had a basic Intel Atom CPU but a reasonably powerful onboard Nvidia chipset. It was available for Linux but hardware acceleration did not work.
We are releasing a new fanless, Ion 2-based PC (the H2) and I'm happy to report that hardware acceleration DOES work on Flash 10.2 and Ubuntu 10.10. It doesn't work out of the box and a few tweaks are required. You can use this tutorial as a starting point. As you can see in the screenshot of this 1080p BBC clip we had CPU utilization of 25% or less on an Atom D525 CPU (2 x 1.8GHz). Without hardware acceleration this CPU would completely maxed out and you would have about 2 frames per second. With hardware acceleration active, you get smooth 1080p flash playback. Click on the photo to see the full size screenshot.
Anandtech finally has a detailed review of AMD's new E-350 technology. The verdict: better and less expensive than Ion 2.
Asus has a fanless motherboard due out soon but with what appears to be a high pricetag of €150. It's technically fanless but their Ion 2 board had an identical heatsink and ran really out - you would need a case fan.
We are also testing a fanless Nano-ITX fusion board.
A lot of our customers in remote areas still need a DVD drive to load software and media. These days it is no more expensive to get a DVD drive that can also write DVDs and so we have released a new product, the Aleutia D1, which uses our popular D-series chassis and combines a really low power Intel D945GSEJT mainboard (same as found in the T1) with a DVD-RW drive.
It also has space for two hard drives making it ideal as a lightweight RAID box.
We're always looking into ways to lower the cost and power consumption of personal computers, and so increase access to computers. Intel's Atom technology is our preferred route - offering "good enough" performance for office tasks and web browsing. I personally use an Atom D525-based T2 Pro for my office PC and, especially, with an Intel SSD, performance is more than adequate.
But the web is changing in a way that challenges the nettop spec. Everything is heading online and people increasingly want to watch HD films on youtube and locally and this requires either a fast processor or a decent GPU and software that can utilize the GPU.
XBMC can do this for local files and Flash 10.1 can do it in Windows for HD online content. (Flash 10.1 on Linux is still a joke.)
So the challenge for us is a PC with a low cost processor and a good GPU. Ion would seem to be the answer but it produces so much heat and even Ion 2 misses a lot of features. And Ion 2 is still expensive (£100+ for the board).
We like our PCs to be small but the reality is micro ATX boards are much better value. This Asrock PV530 motherboard costs just above £35/$50 and has a 1.8GHz VIA processor and a PCI Express 16 slot. I am sure we could make it fanless and then add a fanless Ati 5450 Video Card that consumes just 13W of power. Anandtech has extensively reviewed this - Sandy Bridge technology aside it's practically the perfect HTPC card.
The challenge is how to allign the card horizontally and how to make a a long case that's not too tall so you can fit everything inside an HTPC case that looks like a DVD player.
The picture says it all but suffice to say our popular P1 is now a much tougher fanless boat PC with a case that dissipates heat and a pair of serial ports to enable GPS connectivity without having to rely on fiddly USB to serial adapters. The power supply can take anything from 6 to 26V making it perfect for running off 12V batteries (14.4V fully charged, 11.2V when nearly empty) the case is nearly sealed to reduce the damaging effect of salty, moist air.
Available right now for £299 plus VAT with a 250GB hard drive or £389 plus VAT with a solid state drive for a "No Moving Parts" PC.
Fully tested and compatible with SeaPro.
Available Monday the 17th for £349 ex VAT the Fanless X1 Server combines an Intel Atom N550 Dual Core Notebook Processor (2 x 1.5GHz) with 2-4GB of RAM, a 2.5" SATA-II drive (up to 1TB) and either a Dual Gb Lan Configuration or 5 Gb LAN ports. With idle power consumption of 16W and peak power consumption of just 24 Watts, the X1 is ideal as an always-on proxy server. A fanless design ensures longevity in the field and the X1 is not only VESA/Wall mountable but small enough you can wrap your hands around it.
In the 5 Gb LAN option, 3 of the LAN ports support WoL (Wake-on-LAN) making this system ideal for server applications.
Dell has launched a dull, full size PC with a new Sandy Bridge i5 processor (the 95W 2400). Comes with spinning hard drive, and 5 fans (power supply, CPU, video card, and 2 case fans). Aleutia is using the i5-2400s in the relaunch of the D2 and it will be FANLESS (passively cooled CPU, case, and power supply).
A lot of our customers are still nervous about using SSDs as their primary drive. They might be great to store the OS and Apps on but over time they will degrade. Indeed certain server processes can burn through an SSD in days. Better controller chip technology and Windows TRIM support has helped this but it's still a grey area. Intel estimates that at 5 hours per day, 7 days per week, you will get 5 years of use on Windows. One of the things we're looking at is configuring SSD systems with a separate SLC Flash Module (1-2GB) that would serve as a dedicated swap partition.
In the meantime, check out this Windows 7 Utility:
I ran it on the T2 I've used as a Desktop since November.
Remember the schism between Chipzilla and their former spouse Nvidia that erupted when the Ion Chipset was announced? Nvidia took Intel's crummiest, cheapest processor (the Atom 230) and paired with a decent IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor), the Nvidia 9400 (same as was used in MacBooks). Their argument was that the GPU was the new CPU. You just need something basic for word processing and when you want to watch Flash or videos in 1080p you let the GPU do the heavy lifting.
It sort of works on Windows but Flash 10.1 for Linux is a joke and you still throttle the processor.
As usual, Anand Lal Shimpi has offered the most thorough analysis of Intel's new Sandy Bridge lineup with a special focus on the 95W 2500K and i3 2300. The latter is a natural refresh for our i3-540 based line of H3s and D2s PCs but sadly isn't available until February 20th.
Came across ITX Gamer ,a great site focussed on the high end of mini-itx computing. They've been regularly reporting Mini-ITX motherboards ready for Chipzilla's latest CPU line up, the Sandy Bridge i3, i5, and i7 Processors (Socket 1155). These give off less heat, use less power, and are way better value (especially at the top end). Spoke to a few distributors today and seems Intel's DH67CF will be first available in the UK, followed by Gigabyte, Asus, and Foxconn and ECS likely early next month.
Site has a great mini-itx motherboard comparison tool as well:
Considering swapping my iPhone 4 for the Gingerbread handset and something more open source. Given how appalling our BT broadband is at Aleutia's Office I really like the ability to share 3G connectivity over Wi-Fi (available in Android 2.2+). Carphone Warehouse is the exclusive UK retailer but their site for this new Google phone does not work on Google's own Chrome browser. Here's what the site should look like (complete with ability to select carrier and buy the phone):
That's in Safari. Now here is what it looks like in Chrome (on OS X):
We've sold about 2500 computers this year and about 150 of these are running on solar power. Sometimes this is on a boat but usually it's in a remote part o f the world, whether rural Zambia or East Timor. The problem is always that you have to regulate each DC device. Since these PCs are never headless, you always have the challenge of regulating a 12V monitor or (far worse) running an AC monitor off an inverter.
USB monitors get around this dilemma because they are powered by USB . The 10" Lilliput model above takes up a pair of USB ports (each provides 2.5W) and draws only 5 Watts. Unlike the Samsung U70 7" monitor we used to sell it's actually usable as a primary display. At 1024 x 576 it's basically a netbook resolution but with a 16:9 ratio.
The only downside is that the Linux drivers are community ones and not easy to install so it's best on a Windows 7 equipped Aleutia PC.
We had an individual contact us yesterday with a particularly interesting request: a solid state PC with a Coaxial output. Now your average HTPC will have an SP/DIF Optical Audio output but a lot of people don't want to be stuck with a digital output. I'm not talking about the MP3 crowd of course but those who listen to music in FLAC format or even 24/192 (popular with classic music). This offers better quality audio than anything ever encoded onto a CD.
Our challenge is to produce a PC that's completely silent and can play back such high quality audio.
The main way to do this with a solid state drive instead of a hard drive and with a fanless motherboard.
The Single Core (Atom 230) Zotac Ion motherboard in our H3 chassis solves this and offers Optical audio (digital) and, more importantly, a Coaxial port for analogue audio. To this we can add an 80GB Intel Solid State Drive. Contact email@example.com for pricing.
This is what a fanless Intel Core i3 PC would look like. The current crop has minimum TDP of 73 Watts - that is a lot of heat (though lower than the Core 2 Duo average of 95W). The new 1155 (Sandy Bridge) processors are going to be 65W. Still a challenge to cool without using a fan, especially in a small case.
However, the new Core i3 2300T has a TDP of just 35W, which is a remarkable accomplishment given it's performance of 2 x 2.5GHz and the 3MB of cache.
So using a custom heatpipe and chassis, that's a manageable amount of heat to dissipate out - you just need to maximize the surface area of the chassis. This is just link a human body maximizes surface area with your hands and head - which is why those parts get cold.
The best part is that the PC maintains a stable temperature - the PC doesn't get warm, the room does.
I've already blogged about our upcoming Solar Classroom in a Crate project that we'll be rolling out in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria later this month for the outstanding NGO, Stepping Stones Nigeria. We were originally just providing a crate of 6 x T1s, 1 x X1 DRBL server (which doubles as the teacher's PC), 7 x 12V monitors and 6 x 80W panels (480 Watts in total) with a Morningstar Charge controller to run everything.
Since the PCs, server, switch, and monitor consume about 180 watts and this ICT centre will be organized around the local community (and so open at night) we thought we'd include some solar powered lights. There are cheap solar charged lanterns coming out of China for stand alone use, but if you are creating your own electric grid, we can do some more clever things.
In this case we bought some E27 lamps from CPC (£7), a big UK electric components company in the UK. You then snip off the UK mains socket splice away the cables. revealing a positive and negative lead.
For the picture above we just added some clips and connected it to a £10 7Ah battery although we will outfit them with a more permanent connection for the lab.
The best part is the LED bulb which is very bright and only 2 watts. It will run for 40 hours on that tiny battery and does not require a regulator (as the computer hardware does).
Connected to a 110Ah battery, that light will run for 600 hours.