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.
Aleutia's mission has always been to distribute computers to as many families and businesses as possible in emerging economies and particularly in Africa. Getting useful computers into rural schools, and especially secondary schools, is the real key here because that's where we see the most impact. The barriers are three fold: upfront cost, electricity access (ongoing cost), and reliability.
The industry worship of Moore's Law means we can't do much on cost because the silicon remains expensive (see above post) but we've built up a lot of expertise on passively cooling PCs which means we can produce a really reliable fanless PC at a reasonable price point. And we can get rid of hard drives by using SSDs (still expensive) or, in a classroom, by going diskless and keeping everything on a fanless DRBL server (we run all the Ubuntu sessions off an SSD).
Our T1 has been used in schools all over the world with some particular challenges from the Amazon jungle in Ecuador (humidity, lots of insects that try to get into the PC) to Afghanistan (heat, and zero access to spare parts).
Frequently we ship our T1s and monitors out and rely on a local company to put together the solar side of things but this tends to push up costs and is contingent on a good local supplier being present. In response we've put together a solution that will initially roll out in Nigeria.
It's completely solid state and the whole classroom consumes just 15 Amps or 180 Watts. It's compact enough so that we can ship it anywhere in the world with DHL and comes with everything you need to run 7 PCs and server indefinitely - all you have to do is add batteries. (Deep cycle lead acid batteries are a hazardous material and can't be shipped by air - we can always advise which ones to buy).
The explanation is below and we'll be providing updates (and videos) soon. Should be available to order on the site starting in December.
A new Intel motherboard has snuck its way onto their site, with a release expected by the end of June. It's much lower profile than the D945GCLF2 that we use in most of our PCs and it's got a handy DVI port. Most impressive is that the 945GC Express Chipset has been swapped for the less power hungry 945GSE which will be passively cooled.
What boggles my mind is that they've equipped this with the crummy N270 single core Atom processor found in about 100 different netbooks and not the dual core 330 Atom that we use (and which is also passively cooled.
Incidentally, Jetway released a reference design board of this same spec (fanless, with DVI, N270, and 945GSE) back in January as the NF94-270-LF but that cost a fortune (£117 wholesale) and I'd expect this to be much cheaper.