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Intel Hardware

Zotac's Ion-Based Mini-ITX Board For Atom Debuts 106

MojoKid writes "There have been a handful of NVIDIA Ion-based products with Intel's Atom processor that have been unveiled recently, ranging from NVIDIA's own reference system, to the Acer Aspire Revo SFF PC. Today Zotac announced an Ion motherboard that will be appealing to the DIY crowd. The design of this IONITX-A model board tested and reviewed here in particular, offers some very interesting features, not the least of which is its DC power input with an external power brick. It also is built on Intel's dual core Atom process for a bit more horsepower to back up NVIDIA's Ion integrated graphics chip."
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Zotac's Ion-Based Mini-ITX Board For Atom Debuts

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  • There have been a handful of NVIDIA Ion-based products with Intel's Atom processor that have been unveiled recently

    A reference design and one shipping product qualify as a "handful"?

    Neat story tho, I'm looking forward to the first netbook with this chipset.

  • In a word: awesome! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Smidge207 ( 1278042 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @11:04AM (#27922329) Journal

    There's been talk about NVIDIA's Ion since late last year when news first broke of the ultra small form factor platform. At the time, NVIDIA's tiny Atom-powered prototype system wasn't even called Ion yet, but images of the minuscule motherboard that would eventually be used in the reference platform had already surfaced and the community was buzzing with interest. One of the major concerns with most netbooks and nettops was their relatively weak integrated graphics solutions, and Ion would potentially address that concern.

    Around the time when Ion was first announced, there was some scuttlebutt that Intel "disapproved" of the platform and that the company wouldn't sell OEMs Atom processors separately, without pairing them to an accompanying Intel chipset. Those rumors were soon squashed, however, because Intel does in fact sell Atom processors independent of a chipset. Although, I think it's still pretty safe to say Intel isn't exactly thrilled with Ion's existence. Regardless of what anyone thinks of Ion though, the platform is moving closer to public availability. I actually took a look at NVIDIA's Ion reference system a couple of months back and in I stated that "I want one - preferably sooner than later".

    Well, the wait is almost over...!


    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      Can you use a PCI-e video card with this chipset though? I thought that was a major licensing restriction Intel had put on the Atom architecture. Yes the atom could interface with the PCI-e card, but they've restricted manufacturers from doing just that to cannibalize their desktop chip sales. Hopefully someone responds and puts me in my place, I'd love to play TF2 on an Atom/8800GTS combo with 4 gb of ram.

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by mr_mischief ( 456295 )

        What your post and the parent to your post both point out is further evidence of unfair anti-competitive practices by a dominant player in the industry. The chip is an x86 compatible chip, and NVidia has paid money to Intel for the rights to build chipsets for x86-compatible CPUs. To refuse to sell the chips just because it opens Intel to competition from NVidia will likely not go so well with the antitrust regulators or the judges in the antitrust suit brought by AMD.

      • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

        Correct me fi I'm wrong, but I thought the Atom architecture was limited to 2gb - or maybe that was yet-another artificial requirement put on manufactures?

        Personally, I'd have bought a dual core Atom last month if I could've put a Nvidia graphics card and 4+ Gb of RAM in it - in a heartbeat. But I opted to get a Phenom x3 710 instead. I figured that if I wasn't going to buy "efficiency" and still get the features I wanted (lower power use, silent operation while still maintaining decent power), I might as w

        • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

          I'd have to look at the wiki page to confirm but the atom processor is avalable with x64 extensions just like the core2s are. So the sky's the limit. 2GB caps are likely a chipset limitation rather than processor arch limitation. Future atom processors with x64 extensions should have no problem handling a terrabyte of ram in theory. In theory.

    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      Re: Intel's dislike of other's use of the Atom to manufacture a "solution"...

      Look into Intel's plans for the "Atom 2", which is due at the end of this year/beginning of next. From wiki []:

      The next generation of the Atom, "Lincroft," architecture is scheduled to be launched in Q4 2009 for a dual core and Q1 2010 for single core and is code-named Pineview[30]. It will be used in Netbook/Nettop systems, and feature a system-on-chip (SOC) with an integrated single-channel DDR2 memory controller and an integrated graphics core. Pineview, like Diamondville, will be available in single and dual-core versions. It will feature HyperThreading, and is to be manufactured on a 45 nm[31] or 32 nm[32] process.

      (em mine)

      Looks like they figured out how to make the whole "system" pie their own piece. A 2GHz+ dual core x86 SoC is something AMD, Nvidia, and pretty much anyone who makes x86 hardware should be concerned about - never mind the ARM SoC makers who are trying to get into the 'netbook' arena.

  • by goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @11:10AM (#27922435) Journal
    Getting ARM netbooks might prove to be the real MS-Killer that some are wishing for. Windows mobile cannot compete with Linux. If ARM netbooks sell for the under $200 price-point that we were told of, then expect people to happily purchase them and forget that they ever needed windows at all.
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @12:15PM (#27923339) Homepage Journal

      I agree but they need to build it using the Tegra.
      They will also need Flash that uses the GPU for playback.
      I feel there is one other part that is missing that they will need.
      I for one see Netbooks being more like the iPhone/iPod Touch then the traditional PC. Linux needs and App store. I feel that Developers need a way to make money. I know that a lot of FOSS purists will get bent but some way for developers to sell their software would do Linux a world of good.
      Before anyone bothers yes the iTunes Appstore has a lot of crappy software as well as the good. So does any Liunx distro repository you would care to mention.
      Yes Flash is closed but everybody still uses it. Get a GPU accelerated Theora on netbooks as well as Flash and you will get more people using that.
      You get a netbook with a good App store going and yes people will use it.
      Honestly that is why I am betting that the first ARM netbooks will be running Android.

      • I don't think the lack of an App Store would impact negatively if a mirrored package repository is provided. I have looked at the App Store - it's vastly inferior to a well done package repository. If manufacturers put out a Linux-based netbook, they merely need to ensure that a repository exists for the distro/hardware combo that they are using.

        The hardware-accelerated flash I agree with

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @12:48PM (#27923831) Homepage Journal

          Except that a repository doesn't offer a way to sell software.
          I see that as the key. Just like the AppStore you should have a mix of free and for none free software.
          Just like with the IPhone if you gave people a way to make money off their software I think you would see a lot of good software available.

          That and allow people to rate which program is better like the App store.
          For instance do you know which DVD authoring program for Linux is better?
          Or which CAD system.
          Or which Twitter app?

          An App store would give developers and the distro a revenue stream that they could use to improve there software.
          Plus if you don't like paying for software keep using the free stuff and let those that are want to pay help pay for the development of the Distro.

          • Those are all good points, and I would've modded you up had I not posted. However, App Store does no dependency tracking, and each app stands on it's own, which makes handling of libraries difficult. A popularity contest for software is also a double-edged sword, but I have to concede that it has it's advantages.
            • by wampus ( 1932 )

              This is actually becoming an issue in the Android market. The better apps provide a blurb and kick you back to the market to install whatever supporting apk they need. Shitty apps do nothing when there is nothing to catch the intent.

              Then there are the users who install shit from the libraries category and go bugshit because nothing happens when they try to run it.

            • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

              Well adding dependency tracking I would consider a given. A popularity contest? Don't we all ready have that in FOSS? If a project is popular it gets mindshare and developers. A good example is the DVD creation program I use. It is called DeeVeeDee. It is simple and works really well but I bet most people have never heard of it. If all you want to do is burn DVDs and put simple menus on them then I think it is a great program but I don't think it is very popular.

          • Hello LWATCDR. Meet Click 'n Run.

            But Linspire is the devil so it never quite caught on.

      • by onkelonkel ( 560274 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @12:39PM (#27923701)
        I'm not really disagreeing with you, but there does seem to be two mutually exclusive ideas of "what is a netbook?" out there.

        One is what you describe, an iPod touch with a 7' - 9" screen, basically an oversized PDA. It might have an ARM cpu, run Linux or Android. Does any such device that actually exist?

        The other is a fully functional PC, just smaller. Intel Atom Cpu, winXP, 4+ hour battery. This is what is actually being sold as a netbook.

        I own an eeePc, I paid $350, it runs MS Office (feh, work), Autocad (if you squint a bit), and all my older games (Homm 3, Diablo 2, Starcraft...). The 9" iTouch wouldn't meet my needs, I wouldn't buy one. I'm wondering how low you would have to price one to compete with the eePC. I think it would have to be well below $200 to sell.
        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          Well there is no reason that 9" iTouch couldn't run OpenOffice. AutoCad???? I have used SolidWorks and even on a normal notebook it is PAINFUL. Maybe your only doing 2d but for 3d work a notebook will crawl with even a slightly complex model unless your notebook has a lot of ram, GPU and a good amount of CPU.
          Your games are just a matter of porting. With an ARM based system they are talking about around $199 for a netbook so yes a lot cheaper. Your right that it may not be the right device for you but I thi

        • One is what you describe, an iPod touch with a 7' - 9" screen, basically an oversized PDA. It might have an ARM cpu, run Linux or Android. Does any such device that actually exist?

          It should soon: []

        • The Pandora [] is an ARM-based PDA/UMPC/PSP thingy. Tiny screen, so not a netbook, but it has a good battery life(10+ hours of actual use on a new battery) and HOMM 2 has been ported! :D

          Now the question - Netbook or PDA? You choose!

      • by rbanffy ( 584143 )

        "Linux needs and App store"

        It has. Each distro has one. Mine is called Synaptic.

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          Does Snaptic offer ratings, reviews, or a way to sell software?
          Yea I use Snaptic all the time as well but I feel that for Linux to work on the desktop there has to be a way to also sell software as well as producing FOSS. I do not believe that there is a workable FOSS business model for things like casual games, CAD/CAM, ,high end video games, tax software, and a number of other categories that FOSS just doesn't do well in.

          • There are distros that offer paid packages in their repository.

            There is even at least one app store with support for both Debian-based and RPM-based distros. See [] for information about Click'n'Run for example.

            I prefer to buy my stuff directly from the software vendor's site if I'm buying rather than using gratis software, and I care more about what fits my needs than what is the hot trend this week. However, if you want an app store, Linux has that.

      • Why do they need to be built using the Tegra? What are its merits, other than brand name attached to it? ARM11 is Old Technology. Nvidia should get with some modern tech and build it on Cortex A8/A9.
      • gnome-app-install is a great non-commercial app 'store' insofar as it's more n00b-friendly than Synaptic and whatever KDE openSUSE uses. Ubuntu's partner repositories or Click-N-Run are also candidates.
    • Namely:

      1) A very efficient Reflective 200 dpi screen. (From the OLPC)

      2) 10+ hour battery life.

      3) Bluetooth protocol, so it could dial your cellphone for you.

      This would compete directly with the Kindle and iPhone, and if you make the right choices, it has most of the capabilities of both, but without DRM and various other disadvantages.

      • by jandrese ( 485 )
        This board is 6"x6". It's not going to be an iPhone competitor. If you want to compete with the iPhone, you need a platform that will fit in your pocket, or at least not look completely dorky on a belt clip.
    • For a Netbook, yes, but one thing I notice about this board is that it has 3 SATA slots. Combined with a 64-bit Atom, that would be a very nice machine for running FreeNAS on, with three drives and ZFS.
    • I like Alternative CPUs with emphasis on MIPS but an ARM model with 128MB is not a platform for desktop computing , but has its merits. MIPS and PPC have better desktop orientation.
      • Search for impulse npx-9000 ... it's a 400MHz MIPS-based netbook for $129, with Linux on. Planning on buying one next time I am in that part of the world.
    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      Currently, the WindPC (Atom platform) can be gotten for under $200, once you add a hard drive and 2Gb of RAM.

      The next generation of Atoms is, supposedly, going to be a dual core SoC with integrated video and memory controller. Undoubtedly, it'll be possible to just solder the DDR to the board and save a couple bucks in manufacturing that way, as well. Personally, I expect a $200 price mark for the Atom 2 SoC to be a very tenable possibility. And, at the very least, with Intel's more recent graphics chips, a

  • I'm happy owner of an Asus eee netoobk, What I'd like to see from future netbooks is long battery life (once you get spoiled 5 hours is not enough), and a more powerfull CPU (not that important but still).

    Can this new netbooks deliver this?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lord Ender ( 156273 )

      My Samsung NC10 netbook gets nine hours off of a charge. They cost more than the eees, but they're simply better-quality machines.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Krneki ( 1192201 )
        Don't start this silly arguing, your netbook has exactly the same battery, motheboard, cpu, ... as mine.

        They last 5h with wireless on and constant web work. 9h if you are sleeping on it. :)
        • 9h is indeed with low brightness and wired net access. It's also with a working keyboard! I hope you think fondly of the $50 you saved every time you go for the right-shift and hit the up-arrow :-P

          • by Krneki ( 1192201 )
            I won't argue how you use your netbook since everyone is using it for different purposes.

            I was just pointing out how our battery autonomy is more or less the same.
  • FINALLY! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 800DeadCCs ( 996359 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @11:27AM (#27922685)

    This is what should have happened in the first place.
    I have an Intel m-ITX board with the 330, it's nice... I wish it had a PCI-E/16 instead of regular PCI,,,
    Could only find an ATI 2400/PCI for it, now that they're out, I might rebuild with a Nvidia 95(6?)00 because ubuntu won't install (complains about memory corruption errors. The. memory. is. OK.).

    Intel's graphics are so bad they're criminal.
    And please... stop making 230's and just make 330's.

    I just hope it's not too expensive,
    With a separate power brick made-to-go with this board,,,
    A few stand-offs and you can have a nice low-power-draw render cluster.
    It'd be even nicer if blender, yafaray, or lux had a branch that took advantage of CUDA as well.

  • I may be missing something but after reading the article (GASP!) and seeing pictures, and so forth, I'm not sure this has much more practical application than a space-saving PC at home or a carputer. I can't really see myself carrying this around along with a mouse/keyboard/monitor.

    It's not a gaming rig which means I won't be taking it anywhere, not that I travel with my current rig anyway. I won't knock the progress it marks in creating a lower power pc that delivers HD video, though.

    Maybe this could be

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Its main use will be for HTPC. Small, low power and quiet operation while delivering GPU accelerated 1080P content! Not to mention, relatively cheap.

      It's going to be an interesting summer with all these ION based mobos and nettops coming out. Love to get a 330 based Acer Revo with an SSD drive (or no HD at all and boot from a 4gb usb stick) and run linux + XBMC.

      My only issues with that Zotac combo is that it's too fully featured for me. Once there's some competition, prices should come down as well. You can

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        Its main use will be for HTPC. Small, low power and quiet operation while delivering GPU accelerated 1080P content! Not to mention, relatively cheap.

        Yeah, that's what I'm planning to use one for: my current MythTV box is an Atom 330 Intel motherboard and it's fine for SD but just doesn't have the CPU power to handle 1080 (or even 720 in many cases) playback in software. I'll also be waiting for something a bit less featureful before I buy though.

        • by JSBiff ( 87824 )

          Speaking of too featureful. . .I notice it comes with HDMI, DVI, *and* VGA/DSUB connectors. Isn't there some way to just put an HDMI connector on the box itself, and use adapters for DVI or VGA? The back of that mobo looks pretty darned crowded to me.

          • I don't think you can do that without violating the HDMI spec. The whole point of HDMI is to prevent you from having unencrypted HD video; if you could just toss on an adapter to go from HDMI to DVI (the latter is unencrypted by definition), then HDMI wouldn't need to exist.

            What you could do would be eliminate HDMI and just have DVI, and then people who want HDMI use a DVI -> HDMI cable (which exist); this direction is trivial because HDMI devices will play DVI, IIRC. But this is sort of a no-go becaus

            • by JSBiff ( 87824 )

              "I don't think you can do that without violating the HDMI spec."

              I suppose it depends upon how 'smart' the spec is. That is, the HDMI spec could have a 'handshake' with the device on the other end of the connection, to see if it supports HDCP crypto, andd if it doesn't, would only send lower resolution video data (and probably does, but I'm not sure - someone mentioned that you *can* do HDMI->DVI, at least). If the other end *does* support the crypto, then it can send the high-res stream, encrypted. If th

          • VGA is an analog signal, and HDMI is pure digital. DVI has different pins for both types. That makes HDMI -> DVI cheep, and VGA -> DVI cheep, but HDMI -> DVI -> VGA can't be done without an expensive D/A conversion.

    • I'm imagining a Beowulf cluster of these. No, really, I am. I have a personal project that's going to eventually need a lot of parallel processing power. This thing has a dual core processor and comes with its own external power brick. They seem perfect for a cookie sheet Beowulf []. Since they're aiming for retailing this for around $180, you can easily hit $200/per node once you add a stick of RAM. That looks cheaper than any other solution once you've added a power supply.

      • Unfortunately the CPU isn't very fast: if it's something where you can use the GPU to do much of the work then a cluster might well be a good move, but the raw CPU power isn't likely to compete in price/power/performance with just buying a few Core 2 Quad systems.

        From what I remember, multi-threaded Atom 330 performance is similar to a low-end Pentium-4, or a Cray Y-MP.

        • From what I remember, multi-threaded Atom 330 performance is similar to a low-end Pentium-4, or a Cray Y-MP.

          Actually from what I heard it doesn't even really match Pentium 4 levels. The Atom is, more or less, a Pentium MMX (yeah, the originals) architecture pumped up in Mhz. Some are dual core, but it's still essentially a Pentium MMX on steroids. That's fine for a lot of stuff (hell most of us got plenty of work done on Pentium MMX chips that were less than 200Mhz so it's not like useful things cannot be done), but from a number crunching standpoint, they are indeed slow.

          That in and of itself limits clusterin

      • by drsmithy ( 35869 )

        Since they're aiming for retailing this for around $180, you can easily hit $200/per node once you add a stick of RAM. That looks cheaper than any other solution once you've added a power supply.

        A $300 dual-core Dell Vostro or $800 quad-core Nehalem Dell Studio XPS will destroy it in pretty much every metric.

  • WOW Netbook please. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @11:39AM (#27922825)

    1) Build Netbook that is a) cheap, b) long battery life, and c) ability to play WOW at minimal settings.
    2) ???
    3) PROFIT!

    Seriously though. That is what I want. You build it and I will go buy it.

    Likely it will need at least a 10" screen to display without eyes bleeding.

    From what I have read the Atom 1.6 just doesn't have the guts to run WOW realistically even at minimal levels.

    However WOW is not a game that requires a lot of power to begin with (other than disk space). If it can play WOW it can probably play all my outdated games as well.

    a 10" screen, a long battery life, some basic office software, wireless, wow, and decent price.

    Doesn't have to be windows based. Linux is fine. You just have to make sure it becomes popular, and a community will help maintain it and provide updates and support. Make a cheap WOW playing netbook, and it WILL be popular.

    Anyway that's my 2 cents.

    • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @11:40AM (#27922837) Homepage

      Or you could get a girlfriend...

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "From what I have read the Atom 1.6 just doesn't have the guts to run WOW realistically even at minimal levels."
      People seem to like to talk about which processor can run this game or that game, but it's not about the processor- it's about the graphics card. My 5 year old computer with a new graphics card runs circles around my bosses quad-core new system that has a crappy intel-integrated graphics.

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        People seem to like to talk about which processor can run this game or that game, but it's not about the processor- it's about the graphics card.

        Well, it's both; some games need more CPU power than others.

        I'd guess that the Atom 330 would handle WoW's CPU requirements, but the crappy Intel chipset is probably too underpowered to handle the graphics.

    • by Krneki ( 1192201 )
      One should be for Alliance players with Gnome Linux and the other an Undead WinXP.

      Now that would start a holy war.

      WoW 5: The year of Linux desktop (release date might be delayed)
    • I dunno how well this will play WoW, but if it does it might be what you're looking for in a mobile gaming platform. []

      It's not really a netbook, but it does have a qwerty keyboard.

    • My brother has a 10" EEEPC (Atom N230 1.6 GHz, 1Gb ram, 160 Gb HDD, with XP) and I believe he can play WOW for something like 4hrs on the battery (he got the biggest battery he could).
  • Yes, but XBMC Linux? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The biggest question for me, though, is how well does XBMC with VDPAU run with this?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by itzfritz ( 822208 ) *
      The hothardware review indicates that it has a 9400M, which is on the vpdau supported platform list... I would def. like to see how something like myth or boxee performs on this board. it could make a killer nix htpc.
  • by Vigile ( 99919 ) * on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @01:26PM (#27924445)

    This review compares the same motherboard to an AMD-based system that is micro-ATX not mini-ITX, but does have the same price: $189 or so. []

    If power consumption doesn't matter to you, the AMD X2 7750 + 780G + 400w PSU is a much better performer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 )

      If power consumption doesn't matter to you, the AMD X2 7750 + 780G + 400w PSU is a much better performer.

      Sure, if the size, silence and low power consumption are not important to you then you should not even consider a mini-ITX based system. But based on the linked that you provided, I think that the Zotac system performed well in some of the tests - especially in terms of performance per watt.

      It is simply a case of working out what your priorities are.

      • If power consumption doesn't matter to you, the AMD X2 7750 + 780G + 400w PSU is a much better performer.

        Sure, if the size, silence and low power consumption are not important to you then you should not even consider a mini-ITX based system.

        Replace the 95W CPU with a 35W Conroe-L CPU [] and the micro-ATX motherboard with a mini-ITX LGA775 GeForce 9300 motherboard [], and you've got something that's the same size and much closer in noise/power (for desktop users), but should blow away the Atom in gaming.

        OTOH, I assume most people don't have serious gaming in mind when they build a mini-ITX desktop. For just HTPC applications (including Blu-ray playback), the Atom looks like it does just fine.

    • Troll much?
      • by Vigile ( 99919 ) *

        Troll much?

        Sorry, thought a good comparison would be to see how this ION performs up against similarly priced uATX desktop configuration. People should know that in many ways the 9400M GPU is wasted on the Atom processor.

        • You're pitting a dual core desktop CPU against Ion. Of course it's going to be faster and also consume 3X the power and generate that much more heat/noise. The point of Ion is to support devices like netbooks and REAL SFF PCs (ITX and mini-ITX), not uATX. They are different animals. It still just seems like you just plain wanted you're link in here, which is fine I suppose.
        • And for that matter you could just through a C2D in there instead of Atom but the point is what? Yes, it's a more capable, larger, hotter box.
      • by AllynM ( 600515 ) *

        Troll much?

        I never would have thought such a simple statement could in itself be a troll. Who knew?

        I really thought the HotHardware guys would be better than that. Seriously.

        • Hmmm... your user activity suggests that you shouldn't be judging character there Allyn; just a tad biased perhaps? ;-) I was just poking fun at Vigile, in case it wasn't clear. Not sure why it's so "not better than that" to challenge someone...
          • by AllynM ( 600515 ) *

            I can judge character just fine regardless of my affiliation. The average Slashdot reader is not going to have enough context to get that you were poking fun. Heck, I had the context and still saw it as a low blow. Next time try throwing in a smiley for clarity.

            • ahh no, a low blow is taking a shot at your competitor's/colleague and friends content, just to get your link in somewhere. Look at the title of the original post/thread here. As the old saying goes, if you can't take it, don't dish it. :) (yeah, that's a smiley)
  • For those of in pursuit of the pure quiet PC, this board gets us a few steps closer.

    Just in case anyone is checking, the total power consumption of this puppy is shown as 38 Watts, just a hair above the heat pipe rating for this Coolermaster heat-pipe based case []

    Who wants to build the first one?

  • by raw-sewage ( 679226 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @03:36PM (#27926539)

    I keep seeing new boards like this come out, hoping one will have all the features I want for an ideal NAS (network attached storage) build. Right now, there is always some trade-off for what I want. Show me the board that has...

    • Support for ECC RAM. AFAIK, all modern AMD CPUs all support ECC RAM. Seems like AMD should be able to make something that competes with the Atom on the low-wattage side of things. A full-blown 4850e or even Sempron is overkill.
    • At least six SATA ports. Eight to 10 would be perfect. Modern Intel (ICH10) and AMD (SB700) chipsets seem to max out at six SATA ports. And Intel likes to pair the Atom with even older chipsets (ICH7 I think) that support at most four SATA ports.
    • A PCIe x16 slot. Not necessary if and only if the motherboard has everything needed integrated. This requirement is really just a stop-gap, assuming the board itself will lack some crucial feature. Or for providing for unforseen future expansion.
    • A built-in compact flash slot. My understanding is that PATA and CF are closely related (one is a subset of the other maybe?)... in this day and age, I would imagine PATA controllers are dirt cheap. But the idea is to use CF as the system drive, i.e. the place to hold the OS and config files. (You could also use USB + thumb drive, so as a compromise I'd settle for an on-board USB socket into which a thumb drive can be directly plugged.)
    • At least one Gigabit LAN port, preferably a high quality controller like Intel makes. Two Gigabit ports for bonding [] would be ideal.
    • Super-low power CPU. The load on this machine will be virtually all I/O. Intel Atom, AMD Geode, or even ARM should suffice.
    • Chipset with sufficient IO muscle and integrated video without the high power consumption. The chipset Intel is supplying with the Atom is awful from a power consumption perspective (actually, none of Intel's chipsets are particularly low-power). AMD's 740G and 780G look decent, but still have way over-powered video. Super old school, VGA only video is sufficient. I'd even be happy with serial console only.

    One board comes close: the VIA NAS 7800 [], but it doesn't appear to be available to the general public. And I don't see anything about supporting ECC memory. For no reason other than hearsay, I'm not so sure I'd trust important data to a Via chipset.

    The next best, IMO (and I actually have one of these), is the Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2 []. Check out SilentPCReview's writeup [] on this board. Only problem: I'm not sure if it supports ECC or not (AMD CPUs do, but I've heard it still requires the motherboard vendor to enable it). One annoying problem is that the PCIe x16 slot is for video only---you can't put a SATA controller card, extra NIC or anything else useful to a NAS in there. Still, while it's a very low-power board when paired with the right CPU, it's still overkill for a NAS. In general, I think the power draw for a NAS (excluding the hard drives) should be under 15 Watts.

    The Point of View Ion/Atom [] board linked above looks promising. But, as far as I can see, no compact flash, and probably no ECC memory support.

  • I recently switched to using a netbook as my only computer. I first had an esus eee 1000h, I have recently purchased an hp mini 1033cl for 270 and sold off my eee. I absolutely love using a netbook as I am always on the go and it is by far the most convenient thing to carry on the go. I do not game, edit video, etc so it suits my needs just fine. that said there have been moments where the extra processing power would be of great help. I think the perfect netbook would have a dual core atom and a good integ
  • I've been waiting for the ION, however it always seemed like it was a warmed over P-Pro or P3. ZOTAC GF9300-D-E LGA 775 NVIDIA GeForce 9300 HDMI Mini ITX Intel Motherboard - Retail ~$139 Mini-ITX Core2 capable, Quad also Good enough IGP for surfing and average gaming, BUT IT HAS x16 PCIe slot! Throw in one of ATI's new 4770(?) that beats the 4830 with less power for $90, and I think that'll work as a HTPC just fine. $139 at NewEgg. []
  • Hackintosh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cfriedt ( 1189527 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:59PM (#27928115)

    I've been waiting for somebody to start pairing the dual core atom 330 with nvidia's geforce 9400m for a while. In my opinion, this is more than enough horsepower for the average end-user desktop, htpc, or netbook. And so power efficient too!

    I'm seriously considering one of these zotac boards for an htpc, while using an even more power efficient arm netbook (e.g. always innovating touchbook) for my portable linux workstation. The zotac board would also likely serve as a good hackintosh, no?

    Via could also potentially profit if they paired one of their up-and-coming dual-core chips with the geforce 9400m.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato