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Meet the 5-Watt, Tiny, fit–PC 310

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the where-the-watts-aren't dept.
ThinSkin writes "Meet the fit-PC, a tiny 4.7 x 4.5 x 1.5-inch PC that only draws 5-watts, consuming in a day less power than a traditional PC consumes in one hour. By today's standards, the fit-PC has very little horsepower, which makes it apt for web browsing and light applications; today's games need not apply. Loyd Case over at ExtremeTech reviews the fit-PC and puts it through its paces, noting that performance is not this PC's strength, but rather its small size and price tag of $285."
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Meet the 5-Watt, Tiny, fit–PC

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  • slashvertisement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sh3l1 (981741) on Friday October 12, 2007 @08:52PM (#20962177) Homepage
    **cough** slashvertisement **cough**
    • by Aladrin (926209) on Friday October 12, 2007 @08:54PM (#20962181)
      That hurts Rob's feelings when you say that. ;)
      • *rolls eyes* If anything in the slashdot comments can still hurt his feelings then he doesn't read them often enough.. in fact if anything on the internet can still hurt his feelings then he's just a pansy
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bhima (46039)
      Just curious but where's the line between unwanted advertisement and here's a new gadget you may be interested in.

      I do embedded stuff and I was interested for a few seconds...
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by heinousjay (683506)
        The line appears to be: if there's a chance anyone anywhere made a buck from something, it's gotta be evil.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Torvaun (1040898)
        I'm looking at the many potential possibilities for wearable computing, and this is a major thing for me. 5 watts means that batteries last forever, and that heat will be low. Small form factor means that it could easily be converted into something that you just take with you. Freedom of OS means that I can pick whatever will have the best drivers for the most peripherals.

        I'm all sorts of interested in this, especially with that kind of price point.
    • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Friday October 12, 2007 @09:18PM (#20962349)
      "**cough** slashvertisement **cough**"

      It's a strange coincidence that the things that geeks enjoy reading about are often products.
    • by TopSpin (753) *

      **cough** slashvertisement **cough**
      This is the sort of place where one takes hardware; those who come here appreciate this. Cool bit of kit, cheap yet capable. Machines this small, versatile and low cost? You could make a garage door opener out of this. You could fly a UAV on 5W.

      Anyhow that's where you are and welcome. Just us hardware fiends. :)

      Happy Friday.

  • Lame (Score:2, Informative)

    by 644bd346996 (1012333)
    No flash. Fewer USB ports than the XO-1. Lame.

    (And Gentoo? WTF!?)
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      Apparently they were confused about the Gentoo... TFA says it actually shipped with Ubuntu instead. Probably a good idea since Gentoo peeps would probably rather customize it from the start anyhow, and Ubuntu is easier for the less techie of us.

      I had been wondering when a tiny computer with 2 ethernet ports and decent CPU would come out... Too bad I've not got a router I really like and no real reason to mess with it now.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ericrost (1049312)
        I sure would like an extra ethernet port on it, though. Would make a GREAT 3 homed firewall box so I can use the box I've got as my router/firewall/dns/dhcp server for something real (it is, after all a low end first gen p4, it could server SOMETHING).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by value_added (719364)
        I had been wondering when a tiny computer with 2 ethernet ports and decent CPU would come out.

        Some years [soekris.com] ago? The only advantage I see to this unit is that it's black (instead of green), and it offers video output, none of which may or not be useful or appropriate.

        That said, it's good to see other product offerings in the market.
    • my Fit-PC experience (Score:5, Informative)

      by gradedcheese (173758) on Friday October 12, 2007 @10:41PM (#20962833)
      Ooh, I have one of these, and it's kind of a mixed bag. The people who make them don't really seem to have enough Linux experience to really set this thing up so that it makes sense out of the box, definitely buy it only if you're planning to reinstall Linux on it.

      I expected at least a serial terminal out of the box so that I wouldn't have to plug in a display. It has an RS232 port (via RJ11 jack and adapter cable), and it is a semi-embedded little box. However they didn't enable it in /etc/inittab. Damn. On to Ethernet though, surely it ships with an ssh server running out of the box? Nope. On to plugging in a keyboard and display...

      It does come with Gentoo out of the box (not sure why they picked that distribution), with KDE (ugh) and some various other software. I used UNetbootin (http://lubi.sourceforge.net/unetbootin.html) to install Ubuntu via the network, because the BIOS that shipped on my Fit-PC didn't have working PXE boot (they've since fixed that). Afterward, I enabled the serial console and SSH server, configured the network interfaces, installed the applications I needed (SVN server) and stashed the Fit-PC somewhere and forgot about it, as I had originally intended.

      Overall, I like the Fit-PC, but I wish they had taken more care with the out-of-box experience and even the PC itself (the reset button, for example, is not exposed, and there's no soft-power way to shut the thing off since it has no other buttons). I do like the dual network interfaces, RS232, and low power and quiet operation, but there are tons of other similar Geode-based boxes out there, so this isn't too unique.

      Finally, the Geode is going away. I wonder what the next semi-embedded x86 chip of choice will be.
  • it needs at least one gigabit port.
    • Re:For router use (Score:5, Informative)

      by ashitaka (27544) on Friday October 12, 2007 @09:09PM (#20962297) Homepage
      it needs at least one gigabit port.

      Why? What Internet connection do you have that would come close to maxing out even a 10Mb connection? How many hundreds of machines do you have on your home network that would requires a Gigabit on the inside port?

      PCs come with Gigabit Ethernet connections these days because the cost difference is negligible. Having two 100MB ports provides more than enough bandwidth for average home use and may save some power which is the point of this machine.
  • by recharged95 (782975) on Friday October 12, 2007 @09:04PM (#20962253) Journal
    Wow, add a couple of solar panels [rvprotectionproducts.com]

    and you could have a lightweight VOIP phone that runs forever. Sweet. Solar power computer FTW!

    • by mrcgran (1002503)
      since low power seems to be the main feature, I wonder why they are using a HDD instead of a flash memory.
  • That website is hideous....whoever designed it should be fired. I am interested in buying it, but I don't even want to hit the button to see the next page.....can't we have a link to an all in one print page ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by piranha(jpl) (229201)
      If you're not interested in the current layout, where 1.5 pages of content (printed) is expanded across four separate web pages, with a layout/ads/bullshit to content ratio of about 5, try the printable version [extremetech.com]—the web's best kept secret.
  • Heh! "the fit-PC has very little horsepower, which makes it apt for web browsing and light applications; today's games need not apply."

    Today's games? Pff.. It'll run Quake! Good enough for me. ;) Hell, why not buy a ton of 'em and start the next monthly/bi-monthly/whatever Quake 1 LAN in your area? That would be pretty damn cool IMO.

    But then again maybe I'm the only one who considers an install of Quake 1 a required part of installing a fresh copy of any OS... ;)
    • I have a similar outlook, but I go for an even older product: Duke Nukem 3D, Atomic Edition. And Shadow Warrior. Jonof's Windows ports of those games are remarkable.

      Not that I didn't put in my time on Quake too.
    • by rbarreira (836272)
      Ohhh Quake.... :)
  • by linuxguy (98493) on Friday October 12, 2007 @09:08PM (#20962287) Homepage
    My core 2 Duo based laptop with 2 GBs of RAM eats 18 watts with *screen turned on*!

    Laptops are really really cheap these days. I bought an Acer laptop for a family member, brand new from CompUSA, last month for $350 (It has an Intel CPU I forget which one). It will probably run circles around this thing and costs about the same (once you include the $40 shipping cost on fit PC) and consumes little additional power.

    What is the point of this fit PC again?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      I agree. I bought a $CDN 450 laptop a couple months ago. Loaded Mandriva on it and it runs very snappy. When I'm running under a regular load it consumes about 20 watts. That's for a 1.6 GHz P IV Celeron, with an Intel 950 GMA. Much more useful than what you get with this fit PC. Plus you can bring a laptop with you, and use it at the coffee shop and such. I don't imagine you can do the same with this one.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        P IV Celeron

        There's no such thing as a Pentium 4 Celeron! Pentium 4, or Celeron, but not both...
    • by Degrees (220395)
      This device would actually make a decent firewall. Likely your laptop doesn't have two ethernet ports. And a WRT54 doesn't have a 40 GB hard drive for logging. Throw on SmoothWall or DansGuardian and you have a low power box that sits between the cable/DSL modem and your home network. Seems like a good fit to me. Another poster points out that it would be even better with three ethernet ports, for a DMZ. I don't know how much a WRT54 would cost if they added a 40 GB laptop drive, but I think this is probabl
      • by timeOday (582209)

        This device would actually make a decent firewall. Likely your laptop doesn't have two ethernet ports.
        For $10 is does. [tigerdirect.com]

        And if I just need to plug in my cable modem, I could save my $10 and use the USB connector.

        • by Degrees (220395)
          Well there you go - that was easy. And, you'd have a built in keyboard. At my house, the cable modem is sitting in the printer stand next to the ethernet switch. So for me, I'd just as soon have a small box sans LCD and keyboard. But sure, you make a good point that a laptop could be a fine firewall, cheap. And the built-in battery means a clean shutdown when the UPS signals the power has gone out.

          • by timeOday (582209)
            Now that you mention it, a UPS is another separate thing you don't need if you use a laptop. It'll run for several hours with the lid closed and automatically suspend when the battery gets too low. Recently some goober at work blipped the power without warning anybody because he was installing some equipment, and everybody not on a laptop lost their work. (Granted they should have been using UPSs).
      • by IvyKing (732111)

        Another poster points out that it would be even better with three ethernet ports, for a DMZ.


        Shouldn't be that hard to plug in a USB to ethernet adapter. If you really want three hard wired ethernet ports, you're probably better off getting a Soekris.
    • The Core 2 Duo U2000 series are 1.06-1.20 GHz single-core CPUs that are rated at 5.5 watts TDP. That's a little more than the Geode, but the C2D U2000 will absolutely run circles around the K7 Tbred-based Geode. I'd think that a U2000 with a low-power chipset like the 945GMS (yes I know, terrible graphics compared to the AMD unit's...) would do a tad better.
    • Exactly. I picked up a Dell laptop with a broken screen for a song to replace a desktop that's on 24x7. Dropped in a 60GB drive, turned on noatime, and consumption is only 13W with the lid closed (12W once the drive spins down.) And that's at 1.2GHz; I can turn it down for even more savings if necessary.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      I was researching this the other day. I was trying to find a replacement for my VIA EPIA SP8000E (it's a piece of junk; almost everything causes it to freeze or not boot).

      Requirements: Low power consumption. Low noise. Enough juice to run a decent web browser. Linux-compatible. Cheap.

      Being fed up with VIA, I first looked to laptops. Power consumption about 20 Watts, good. Need to be a bit more careful about the noise, but you can find quiet laptops no problem. Any laptop probably smokes the SP8000E performa
  • by Dog135 (700389) <dog135@gmail.com> on Friday October 12, 2007 @09:09PM (#20962299)
    Man I'm depressed now. This thing has higher specs then my laptop!

    True, my laptop's 5 years old. But STILL! I'm now in the process of trying to talk my wife into letting me upgrade.

    BTW: yes, works great for going online and writing non-graphical programs. (web sites, CLI) But useless for most action games. Tomb Raider plays fine on it though.
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Friday October 12, 2007 @09:10PM (#20962307)
    Given it's stuck at 256MB RAM - which is sad. It's got a few other downsides like probably some bottleneck somewhere beween IO and the CPU. But it only draws 5 Watts and needs no active cooling which is really cool. Considering that this is a small company and they manage to offer their micropc for such a low price it is a really interesting device. 5 Watts ... my Eco-Bulb in my desklamp uses 7. Quite awesome actually.
  • by inflex (123318) on Friday October 12, 2007 @09:11PM (#20962319) Homepage Journal
    This would be great for a lot of situations where you're using solar power to manage devices and want a WWW frontend or such. Could run this on a 10W ($100) panel without too much trouble.
  • Imagine... (Score:3, Funny)

    by EvilBrak89 (966478) on Friday October 12, 2007 @09:15PM (#20962337)
    Imagine a whole Beowulf cluster of these!
  • by josepha48 (13953) on Friday October 12, 2007 @09:20PM (#20962361) Journal
    while they may not be as small as this, they offer more flexibility as 256M RAM is not really going to run Win XP very well is it?
  • FitPC has nothing on these guys! http://www.picotux.com/ [picotux.com]

    Adeptus
  • 500 MHz?

    Not sure how the Geode stacks up to the Athlon 64 clock-for-clock, but I have an Athlon 64 laptop with frequency scaling; it throttles down to 800 MHz to save power when not under load?

    Guess what?

    800 MHz is enough for practically everything.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by 644bd346996 (1012333)
      800Mhz is plenty when you have (relatively) huge caches and fast RAM, as well as the headroom of being able to triple your speed on demand. Have you tried actually limiting the Athlon to 800Mhz? You'll start noticing some really long pauses, especially if you take out all but one of your RAM modules. With a 500Mhz P3 and more 384Mb RAM, Firefox is sluggish even on simple web sites.
  • See here [mini-itx.com].
  • Way to write an article about a 5W system and then forgetting to tell us the expected battery life.
  • ... Vista?

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday October 12, 2007 @10:05PM (#20962621)

    Another lovely company that tricks you with outrageous shipping costs [fit-pc.com] to artificially drop the "price" of the computer. Also, check out the super friendly support and warranty policies [fit-pc.com].

    Do yourselves a favor and get a VIA-based mini-itx board for that kind of money.

    Seems you can get a VB7001G (1.5Ghz) for about $130; add in $30 for 512MB of ram (2x the fitPC), and however much you feel like spending on a compactflash card, USB memory key, or smaller laptop drive. Say, $50 for a 60GB drive (more than the fitPC's 40). $40 for a picoPSU; $30 for a AC adapter. Buy a crap case for $30 if you don't have one you can use already. Install a gigabit NIC for under $20 (dunno if there are any cheap dual-interface gigabit NICs.) That's under $310, and quite a bit more bang for the buck. It probably won't be 5w, but it'll be well under 20w given that board seems to use about 10w.

    If you want to go even cheaper, intel is fighting back against via, like with the D201GLY. It's $70, 1.3ghz celeron, DDR2 ram...

  • You had me ... (Score:4, Informative)

    by KC1P (907742) on Friday October 12, 2007 @10:06PM (#20962625) Homepage
    ... until I saw the shipping cost. $95?!

    Too bad, this thing would make an absolutely kickass DOS machine. (I'm serious! As long as the BIOS does USB/PS2 keyboard emulation.)
  • application? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kaizokuace (1082079)
    wonder how well this would do in a car install. Use a smaller lcd touchscreen, hook up a gps thingie and i guess you are set? This way you can find your way around town or watch porn and crash your car at the same time!
  • To me, the slight differences in watt consumption aren't the point, for my uses anyway. What I want is a fanless PC. With ethernet and a decent soundcard, and a PII/500MHz or faster, 256MB RAM, and maybe 1GB Flash, and a USB slot. I don't even need VGA: machines for display should be faster and beefier. And of course it should run Linux.

    That gumstix looked cool. Are there more or better in its class, preferably under $150?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dws90 (1063948)
      Zonbu [zonbu.com]

      That looks like it has most everything you want.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Thanks, that's a decent approximation. However, it costs $249 if you don't subscribe to their Internet service (their real business), or $338 if you subscribe and immediately cancel [zonbu.com], while the service costs $13:mo for 2 years minimum (cancelable) prepaid.

        It's also kind of overkill for my app. It's got a bunch of SW preloaded, which has some kind of cost in installation/maintenance even if it's FOSS. It's got QXGA display, which I don't need, kbd/mouse ports (in addition to USB), and the 4GB Flash is costs a
  • Its just a small SBC in a box. You can see the place to fit the PC/104 connector. Nothing amazing...
  • Asus Eee PC (Score:4, Informative)

    by PineHall (206441) on Friday October 12, 2007 @10:44PM (#20962853)
    The Asus Eee PC [asus.com] is a sub-notebook with a better CPU and a minimum of 2GB of solid state disk space. Prices in the US start at $269.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bill Wong (583178)
      So far, the EEE has been nothing but vaporware...
      I don't believe it'll ever actually be sold at that pricepoint either (without at least needing to know a direct sales contact within Asus).

      I actually am interesting in purchasing a few dozen units, though...
  • Soekris (Score:3, Informative)

    by FranTaylor (164577) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @02:58AM (#20963985)
    Soekris [soekris.com] has a whole lineup of single-board machines with this processor. The prices are pretty reasonable, and they have cases and a some accessories. Netgate [netgate.com] makes wireless hardware kits for Soekris aystems. Soekris made the hardware for the MIT RoofNet project.

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