Re: [dwm] Low Power Fanless Computer

From: Martin Oppegaard <>
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 14:48:03 +0200

There's a thread on openbsd-misc[1] with a few alternatives. If one only
could get tiny fanless computers with awesome graphics capabilities, for
the Morrowind experience ...


On Sat, Apr 25, 2009 at 02:59:12AM +0200, Matthias-Christian Ott wrote:
> Hi,
> after a few months of latop-only computing (my good old P4 1.8Ghz is now =
> -
> after 7 years - a Windows machine in our household), I plan to switch to =
> a
> normal computer again.
> My requirements are the following:
> o Low power consumption (< 10W; 25W upper limit)
> o Support for major Free Software operating systems (no strange, custom
> GNU/Linux distributions), especially GNU/Linux or NetBSD
> o Fanless and no moving parts
> o No proprietary drivers, etc. (BIOS and bootloader acceptable)
> o Standard form-factor or custom case/enclosure (if so, hole for rp-sma
> connector)
> o Smallest form-factor that is possible (I don't understand why compute=
> rs
> are still the size of a bottle crate)
> o Standard connectors (USB, VGA/DVI, Ethernet)
> o VESA mount (if possible)
> o low budget (< 500=E2=82=AC)
> After I found no RISC processors or SOCs, I looked at x86 CPUs. There thr=
> ee
> low power architectures: VIA C7 and Nano, AMD Geode and Intel Atom.
> VIA's technology (especially the C7) seems to be out-dated. VIA offers a
> mini-itx board with its Nano CPU (VIA VB8001), but it has small fan and i=
> ts
> power consumption is slightly above the limit.
> AMD's Geode is obsolete as well. The Geode LX family has the advantage of
> low power consumption and small form factor. However, the performance per
> watt ration is low.
> Intel's Atom processors are modern and have probably the highest performa=
> nce
> per watt ration. However, the smallest affordable form-factor is mini-itx
> (I talked to several companies that manufacture smaller industrial boards=
> ,
> but the price performance ratio was terrible and buying one of those woul=
> d
> be my last option). Similar to the Nano most of the Atom Boards have a po=
> wer
> consumption that's a bit above 25W (there are the Z510 and Z530 embedded
> Atom CPUs, but the come with the GMA 500 graphics chip which has no free
> drivers). Nvidia's Ion, especially the Acer AspireRevo, seems to be quite
> promising, but has proprietary drivers.
> I wanted to ask you (because you very likely use your computers the same =
> way
> I do) whether you think the Geode is sufficient for the next three years =
> or
> so, otherwise would buy a cheap Atom mini-itx computer.
> Usually I use my computer just for programming, typesetting (mainly
> with groff and heirloom-doctools, but also occasionally with LaTeX),
> reading and research. I don't need any computing power for simulations,
> calculations, etc.; I can get access to bigger machines if I really have
> such special tasks.
> What bothers me a bit are these multimedia applications (video codecs,
> etc.) and particularly web applications. I'm really not sure if the
> Geode would be able to render on of these new JavaScript + HTML =3D
> graphics-and-user-interface-API web apps in one and a half years or
> so. Moreover, I can't imagine the CPU to decode a medium-sized h.264 vide=
> os
> which seem to have become today's quasi-standard.
> Maybe you know a better alternative.
> Regards,
> Matthias-Christian
Received on Sat Apr 25 2009 - 12:48:03 UTC

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