Flutterby™! : Nano-ITX

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics


2003-09-25 16:55:49.847219+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

/. reports: Via introduces Nano-ITX. Mini-ITX has pictures, and claims this'll be a 1GHz C3. The boards are 12cm square (size of a CD jewel case) with audio, S-Video and VGA, ethernet and 2 USB ports, so alas, they've done away with the serial and parallel port and I've no idea what power supply issues they've got, but if these are affordable they're going to be way cool to play with.

[ related topics: Current Events Cool Technology Embedded Devices - Via Eden ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: Nano-ITX made: 2003-09-27 03:07:22.389146+00 by: ebradway [edit history]

Aha! That's what missing. I thought that board looked too clean. There's no power connector. Maybe they are just using a header connector (like maybe that's not a floppy controller?). I can't imagine the board drawing much more than the 5W the Eden does.

Why do they put two USB ports on the backplane? And why do they persist using PS/2 keyboard connectors? They could have really reduced the bulk on the back end.

EDIT: Just noticed that that's probably an S-Video connector.

#Comment Re: Nano-ITX made: 2003-09-27 18:27:50.496329+00 by: Dan Lyke

I don't know much about Mini-PCI, but it sure seems like they could drop the 12 volt input, which could reduce the board to a power switch and a 5 volt input. Actually, depending on how much power it draws, maybe it's just a single 9 to 35 or so volt input, your basic wall wart.

#Comment Re: Nano-ITX made: 2003-09-28 02:05:52.354818+00 by: ebradway

I just got a couple new servers in at work - other end of the spectrum. Dual 2.4Ghz Xeon's, couple-few gigs of RAM, 280GB of RAID5 space in the data server and 36GB RAID0 space in the web server. There are some amazingly big machines. Well under 10K for both machines combined, rack-mount with big rack-UPSs for each.

With that kind of horsepower being that cheap at the other end of the ethernet, makes you really start wondering about client-server again. Simple ergonomics make you think a big LCD panel and little 'bump in the cable' (ala Jerry Pournelle) nano-itx with a compact flash hard drive. No noise, drawing less power than a desklamp and you could make a UPS using AA batteries. Have a closed off room with the big iron hidden away makes alot more sense that big boxes in front of you. Unfortunately, Microsoft's OS architecture really makes this impossible. Citrix makes a good stab at it, but they keep their licensing fees so high that it's only cost effective to use in very limited installations. And Windows Terminal Services is broken enough to frighten most IT people away...

So in a large IT infrastructure where you have thousands of desktops all running two or three different OSes, why can't the majority of the OS (dlls, fonts, etc.,) live on a centralized server. And heavy processing occur on the server or even a processor farm? Unix does this in spades. X was designed to work well with thin clients and NFS mounts for the OS (that's why you can run X apps so well under Windows using a Windows X server). In ESRI GIS apps, the old-school workhorse programs, ArcInfo Workstation, allows you to run all the apps remotely with local display. Of course, they are direct ports of the Unix apps (and is the only portion of the ArcGIS family that ESRI still supports on Unix besides ArcGIS).

I think if Microsoft wants to sell another generation of OSes, they are going to have to either get security and stability right, or they are going to have rethink their architecture to make the desktop lighter. Maybe .Net was supposed to be a move in that direction, but it costs 23MB just to download it. The places I've dealt with that have 1000s of desktops all deal with the same crap - keeping everything updated. Take a standard distribution of 5000 machines and you've got enough outside two deviations to keep a crew of techies permanently busy. At that scale, you have to be able to pick up whatever's on the desk, chunk it in the trash, plug in a new one, turn it on, and within 10 minutes have everything back where it was. This is how it worked in the days of ASCII terminals... How far have we really gotten?

#Comment Re: Nano-ITX made: 2003-09-29 19:10:35.56573+00 by: baylink

Actually, from a management standpoint, I'm quite happy with VNC to emulate a mainframe -- you can do TCP and a VNC client on an SVGA/286 board. I have a client using this scheme with ThinkNIC's as terminals; they're quite happy with it, overall.

I have an article about half written that I was supposed to sell to LJ; they might still want to buy iy...