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How Neuros Built Their Nearly Silent HTPC 199

Posted by timothy
from the more-power-than-my-best-machine dept.
JoeBorn writes "Neuros has a blog posting discussing how they created their latest 'thin' HTPC to be nearly silent. Instead of using a net-top architecture (Atom or the like) they used a full 2.7GHz CPU and put their effort into making that nearly silent. The article talks about their efforts on fan selection, placement, control, and vibration dampening. This route was chosen to 'give more headroom' for CPU-hungry apps (web and otherwise) including Adobe Flash. Their solution costs $279; is this an appropriate trade-off for a device powering your TV?"
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How Neuros Built Their Nearly Silent HTPC

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  • Slashvertisement (Score:5, Interesting)

    by migla (1099771) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @04:51PM (#31811070)

    "This is one slashvertisement I'd like to read", I thought to myself, but I was disappointed, because I expected lots of pictures and details, which I didn't get.

  • Oops (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @04:52PM (#31811080) Journal

    Fatal error: out of dynamic memory in yy_create_buffer() in Unknown on line 0

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 10747904) (tried to allocate 77824 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/webform/webform.module on line 1029

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 8650752) (tried to allocate 4864 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.module on line 779

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 11010048) (tried to allocate 77824 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/pathauto/pathauto.module on line 182

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 4718592) (tried to allocate 19456 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/img_assist/img_assist.module on line 730

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 10747904) (tried to allocate 2 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/webform/webform.module on line 688

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 262144) (tried to allocate 19456 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/cache.inc on line 151

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 524288) (tried to allocate 19456 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/path.inc on line 70

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 11272192) (tried to allocate 59 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/menu.inc on line 211

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 4456448) (tried to allocate 5 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/image/contrib/image_attach/image_attach.module on line 132

    I gave up hitting refresh after so many memory errors.
    Try the Coral Cache until their server comes back to life:
    http://open.neurostechnology.com.nyud.net/content/Silent_HTPC [nyud.net]

  • Re:silentpcreview (Score:2, Interesting)

    by illaqueate (416118) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:06PM (#31811220)

    Technically yes, it's not silent, however most are aiming for quiet not so much perfect silence (good fans running in 800rpm are relatively quiet). It's possible to do silent, however you run up the price sometimes in aftermarket parts doing that. Once you get fanless then you notice the sound of the hard drive, so you put in an SSD instead, etc.

    The ghetto method to do perfect silence is to put the computer in another room, for example in the closet of an adjoining room then run an hdmi cable (to the receiver) and usb (to a hub) through the wall (also optical/analog sound if the sound is not hdmi). It's what I do.

  • Atom (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerteNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:07PM (#31811222)

    I know I've posted this on every single discussion involving the Atom ... but I have to say it again:

    The Atom processor is amazingly powerful. The Atom 330/510 are dual core, 2 threads per core processors @ 1.6ghz. They are fucking amazing. And if your apps are well developed, and they can take advantage of multicore machines, it's a very powerful platform. I've seen some netbooks (based on Atom 270, single core, 2 threads) with windows that just crawl at doing just about anything but basic web browsing. But that's because windows sucks, not because Atom sucks. Try getting an Intel mini-atx Atom 510 based mobo and put 4 gb of ram in there. Using the embedded GMA intel card, I can run compiz at full speed @ 1990x1200 with all visual effects turned on, plus chrome with 30 open tabs, while gcc is compiling something on the background and still have a great performance. One of the appliances I develop (security) is based on an Atom 330, and we can run 16 ffmpegs encoding MPEG4 video @ 720x576 just fine. And you can run the 510 essentially fan-less by just adding a slightly better heatsink. It uses very little power, it runs very well, and completely quiet. For a completely silent machine, all you need to do is get one of this mobos in their 12v version, add an external laptop power brick, remove the fan and add a better heatsink. Or just use the 270 version (single core, 2 threads) that is completely fanless out of the box.

    Noone needs a fucking 2.8Ghz dual core processor just to run flash video, all you need is a better OS and a little optimization.

    BTW: This Intel mobos I'm mentioning are mini-atx and retail for ~$80, processor and everything. That is, mobo+cpu for 80 bucks. Nothing beats the Atom.

  • I am not impressed. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by trum4n (982031) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:19PM (#31811312)
    I, a 22 year old nerd, have been building fanless, high performance machines that are silent since the 90's. My first PC I built when I was 12 was silent. A fanless gaming machine. Rubber o-rings kept the loudest part, the hard drive, from making noise. The power supply fan was removed, and the case slotted to allow passive convection cooling. This is a really unimpressive "break through." My 2 cents.
  • Re:silentpcreview (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Latinhypercube (935707) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:45PM (#31811538)
    My thoughts exactly. Don't put a fan in a 'silent' pc. I am currently running an overclocked 3Ghz 4 core intel chip with PASSIVE cooling, so no noise. If that can run without a fan, I'm sure a media pc can run without a fan.
  • Re:Atom (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:47PM (#31811556) Journal
    In all probability, then, if GPU accelerated Flash is fully baked by the time they start shipping these as a full commercial product(rather than the current "gamma" geek/prerelease stuff), they'll take advantage of having a socketed board, and just stuff it with a cheaper, slower, lower-power CPU.

    My understanding is that this product has been in development a while, and that GPU accelerated flash has been, at best, a roadmap item for much of its history.
  • Re:Atom (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerteNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:50PM (#31811962)

    No, I used the right word, I am encoding.

    I use a card with 8 SAA7134 chips that deliver 25 FPS (PAL) @ 720x576. That's 8 V4L devices delivering MJPEG video. I do motion detection on all 8 channels, and re-encode that as both Theora AND FLV at the same time. So I have 16 motherfucking ffmpegs doing encoding. The motion detecting daemon delivers raw video to all 16 ffmpegs, 8 output Theora and 8 output FLV. So, yes, I am encoding 16 videos at a time.

  • Re:Atom (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerteNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:51PM (#31811974)

    I am playing back 8 720x576 channels at qmin 1 qmax 1 on that machine. How about that?

  • by JoeBorn (625012) <jborn&neurosaudio,com> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:47PM (#31813314) Homepage Journal
    I'm from Neuros (to get that out of the way) You shouldn't lump ball bearings in with fluid bearings. Fluid bearings combined the long life of ball bearings are are practically silent. But you are right about going big and slow. That's why the product uses a 120mm fan that's speed controlled, in typical use its under 1000 rpm and pretty much dead silent.
  • Re:What about power? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Monday April 12, 2010 @02:07AM (#31814212) Journal

    I don't know if I would want to go single core for an HTPC. I have built a few for customers and while an HTPC doesn't need to be a monster you also don't want it to become bogged down, especially if they may want to do a little transcoding or light gaming on it as well.

    If it were me I would probably build it around something like this [newegg.com] as the dual core Sempron only uses 64w but still gives them decent performance. Add a fanless ATI 4xxx series for hardware transcoding, a nice micro ATX HTPC case, And windows 7 HP x64 and you would have a sweet little system.

    In the end an HTPC all comes down to trade offs. While some like to have quiet above all, my customers prefer having an onboard burner and a big fat HDD so they can keep all their favorite movies/shows/music loaded and ready to go. With Win 7 HP X64 and a wireless card so they can surf and watch Internet TV as well as their cable/sat they are happy little campers, And if they are happy, then my wallet is happy ;-)

  • Re:What about power? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:41AM (#31815736) Homepage Journal

    If it were me I would probably build it around something like this as the dual core Sempron only uses 64w but still gives them decent performance.

    The Aspire Revo (or another Ion-based solution) can do 1080p H.264 via VDPAU under Linux or presumably under Windows as well, costs $199 with HDMI, VGA, 6 USB, 1GB RAM and 160GB disk, and GigE. And probably draws under 30W peak for the whole system... I guess, maybe a whiff more while the disk spins up, but since it's 5400 RPM, that's probably not a big drain either. The only fan in the whole system is a tiny CPU fan. Since we probably won't have to deal with any more arduous video codecs for several years, the Revo nettop is probably the best bet on the market right now. The only thing it's lacking is IR and as we all know you can add that later. So if you REALLY care about power, you'll use Atom/Ion or later Atom/Tegra, which brings full system power consumption down below the TDP of your chosen CPU.

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