where to buy cheap, low power, small, diskless systems for thin clients and network applia...

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(long post warning: only read if you are a vendor that sells low power,
small footprint, mini PC or thin client systems or are like me and are
searching for good places to buy them at decent prices)

I am looking for sources to buy low-power (as in watts consumed)
small-footprint systems based on processors like the Geode GX1, Via C3,
SiS55x LV, Transmeta Crusoe, and STPC. I would like to find a single vendor
or at least a small number of vendors that I can either 1) buy whole systems
from, or 2)  buy the parts to assemble my own systems, preferably #1. My
goal is to standardize on a single system or small set of systems that can
be very flexible in their applications and used for various thin client and
other low-power network applications. Vendors, please feel free to reply to
the post or email me, but only if you can meet all of the requirements
outlined below.

All systems should use less than 20 watts of power and be under $250 per
unit (purchased one unit at a time,) including shipping and everything the
system needs to work other than a monitor, keyboard and mouse -- no hidden
costs. If they are cheap enough then they can consume a bit more power,
maybe as much as 25W, but they ought to be fanless (if possible) and very
quiet. Quantity discounts would be nice but I won't be buying more than
10-20 at a time. They should be small -- no more than about 1/3 cubic foot
(9 liters) and hopefully much smaller. Need to have connections for at
least: keyboard, mouse (except system 3), ethernet (10/100bT), VGA monitor,
and at least one printer, serial, or USB port. They should all be capable of
booting via PXE or have a bootable flash drive with at least 32MB that
emulates an IDE hard drive, or both, and in all ways emulate the PC
architecture so that x86 Linux distributions and other x86 OSes will run
with little or no modification (except system #3.)

Price is a big factor in deciding which systems and/or parts I go with, and
no system over $250 will be considered. But, so long as the system is under
that price point, then factors such as small size, low power consumption,
low noise, extra features (more RAM, more connectors, external audio
connectors, etc.) will matter as much as price.

Requirements for 3 different systems I'm looking for:

System 1:
under $250
128MB RAM
32MB Flash drive (bootable, emulates IDE hard drive)
10/100 Ethernet port (PXE bootable)
VGA port with accelerated 2D/3D engine
Audio output
PS/2 or USB Keyboard and Mouse ports
at least 1 each of USB, RS232 serial, and parallel or extra USB
fanless or very low power fan and some extra features to make up for it

System 2: same as system #1, but under $200 and with no flash drive and no
need to be fanless.

System 3: is a color text ethernet terminal supporting at least one printer
that it makes available to a unix host via lpd protocol.
under $150 (hopefully much less, at least in large quantities)
supports color text and at least 25x80/132 and 43x80/132 resolutions
VGA port that supports color CRT and LCD monitors
emulates at least vt100/102, ANSI, and PC TERM
supports telnet/ssh via 10bT ethernet port
at least one parallel, serial, or USB port for a printer and LPD (RFC 1179)
support


Complete system solutions I have found so far, for those that are looking
for the same:

http://www.channel.com.tw/eng/tcs-533.shtml

Seems to support all requirements for either #1 or #2, depending on
configuration, but I don't know about power requirements or size.

http://www.norhtec.com/products/mc/index.html

Again, seems to support all requirements for either #1 or #2, depending on
config. I haven't verified pricing yet, but website suggests system
configured for #2 would be $195.

http://www.norhtec.com/products/mcr/index.html

looks really slick (very small and low power,) but is priced at least $30
more than their other product above (so might not meet my price
requirements,) doesn't have external RS232 and parallel, and may have less
computational power (as little as half, but that might not matter.)

http://www.solarpc.com /

their SB150 looks like it might meet all the requirements for system #2, but
I can't tell for sure, and haven't had a response to my emails.

http://www.ntavo.com/ntaterminal.php

The NTAVO 6010A looks like it might meet all requirements for system #3 and
only lacks RAM to meet reqs for #2, but it looks like it might be a
proprietary solution that only works with their server hardware and not with
open standards. Anyone know?

http://idotpc.com/TheStore/minibook/default_itx.asp?Cate.id19 %

has iBox slim and deck mini-PCs. I think an iBox Slim PC could meet the
requirements for system #1 (at $209 plus shipping,) coupled with an IDE
flash drive (around $30-$40, I think) or bootable USB drive ($20 or so, but
the bios might not support booting from USB even if the pen drive does.) It
might run a tiny bit over the $250 limit, I don't know how much power it
consumes, and it has fans. The iBox Deck PC has no fans but is $10 more.

Build my own:

I've searched around and found a couple places where I could buy VIA
EPIA/Eden motherboards and mini-itx cases at decent prices. It's just
amazing how many places there are that have outrageous pricing -- like more
than double the lowest dealers. The best price I've found so far is at
http://directron.com /. I can put a mini-itx system together with case,
motherboard, and 128MB RAM for $186 (including UPS ground shipping) that
looks like it will meet system #2 requirements, and I could use a USB or IDE
flash drive to make into a system #1. But, looks like I'd have to assemble
this myself as I don't see an option for them to assemble and test. If
anyone knows other places to buy VIA EPIA motherboards, cases, etc, at
prices less than or equal to directron.com, especially places that will
assemble the system, please let me know. Keep in mind I have looked at about
40 sites so far (including mini-itx.com) and while there are lots of places
to buy mini-itx hardware, directron.com was the only one I found where I
could build a complete system for under $200 including shipping -- most were
over $300.

-Tim Wilfong
snipped-for-privacy@techslinger.com




Re: where to buy cheap, low power, small, diskless systems for thin clients and network appliances?

[%X]

Try these links

        http://www.mini-itx.com/
        http://www.littlepc.com /

Just a couple I found lookingf for small form factor systems.

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Re: where to buy cheap, low power, small, diskless systems for thin clients and network appliances?

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Have you looked at idotpc.com ?


Re: where to buy cheap, low power, small, diskless systems for thin clients and network appliances?
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If you look at the part where I list the solutions I've found so far that
come close to my requirements, the sixth URL that I list is idotpc.com. So
yes, I have looked at it. I didn't mention that iboxpc.com also lists the
same iBox systems at the same price as idotpc.com. I didn't mention the
falcon PC (their cheapest mini itx solution,) which is under $200, but is a
bit too big, and has a larger power supply with an extra fan -- not worth
saving the $10 since I don't need the space or the power for my app and
would prefer smaller, more energy-efficient systems.

-Tim



Re: where to buy cheap, low power, small, diskless systems for thin clients and network appliances?
Hi Tim,

I've recently received such a system from idotpc.  If you order the
model with the fanless 533MHz processor, you can disconnect the included
case fan, it's not needed, or at least that is the general consensus
that I have read and also my experience.  A neat, solid system!

- Richard

Re: where to buy cheap, low power, small, diskless systems for thin clients and network appliances?
FYI at www.xbox-linux.org I find the following specs for the xbox:

The Xbox is essentially a PC sold by Microsoft as a gaming console,
because they intend the user only run games on it. Xbox prices in
most countries are less than 1/2 the price of a low-end PC, and
refurbished or used models are widely available for even less.
As proof that the Xbox is essentially a PC, here's a short list
of the internal components:

    * Intel Celeron 733 MHz CPU
    * 64 MB of RAM (enough for most Linux applications - if you need more,
        it can be upgraded, but extensive soldering is involved)
    * nVidia GeForce 3 graphics card (on most versions)
    * Dolby Digital AC97 sound card
    * 8 or 10 GB hard disk
    * DVD drive
    * 10/100 EtherNet port
* 4 USB ports (cleverly disguised as custom joystick ports)

The Xbox comes in a nice, portable form-factor, is smaller and lighter
than most PCs,
 and is quieter. The best feature is that any television can serve as a
monitor,
and VGA and HDTV are possible with an appropriate adapter.

Re: where to buy cheap, low power, small, diskless systems for thin clients and network appliances?

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~25-30W if you remove the HDD/DVD and wont use any 3D/CPU intensive
software


Pozdrawiam.
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RusH   //
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