Home | News Archive | January 2005

The First Nano-ITX Project?
January 30, 2005

Kevin Rose of G4TechTV's "The Screen Savers" managed to get hold of a prototype Nano-ITX board and stuffed it inside a Mac mini, creating the first Nano-ITX project and overloading his server with slashdotters in one fluid motion. Several modifications were required to fit the 12x12cm board inside the case, mainly due to the size of the heatsink on the prototype, and the difference in layout and dimensions of the back panels (the optical drive didn't make it back into the case at all)...

Kevin Rose's "mini PC" (when his server recovers)

m Permalink | mini-link

Axentra's Net-Box One
January 26, 2005

Talking of small white boxes, Axentra showed us the first prototype of their Net-Box One this year at CES 2005.

The Net-Box One is described as a "Multifunction Server Appliance", acting as a network and internet-based email and file server, with combined router, access point and firewall functionalities. At the heart of this versatile little device is of course a Mini-ITX board running Linux, and a rather nice web-based interface - the "OEone platform".

The OEone platform has gained further in functionality since we first saw it, but it is still very easy to use - keeping the thornier parts of Linux administration well under the bonnet. Using the wizard driven setup, it doesn't take long to create a wireless home network and internet web server with a centralised file store accessible from anywhere and across multiple platforms.

The 210 x 210 x 100mm Net-Box One marks a return to the Mini-ITX form factor for Axentra - their Rumba appliance was Mini-ITX based, whereas the Net-Box that followed is a slightly larger machine. G4TechTV certainly liked it - it was the winner in the Smart Home category of their Best of CES Awards.

m Permalink | mini-link

AMD's Personal Internet Communicator
January 18, 2005

Apple's recent announcement reminds us of AMD's rather different take on the Mini-PC - their Personal Internet Communicator (PIC).

The PIC is a low cost, sealed fanless PC with pre-installed software designed to help provide 50 percent of the world's population with internet access and computing capabilities by the year 2015 - an initiative dubbed 50x15 by AMD.

AMD's low-power Geode GX processor powers the PIC, which is barely larger than the 3.5 inch hard drive inside its rugged enclosure. The PIC runs Windows CE 5.0, and the entire operating system and software can be reloaded or upgraded through rather clever secure BIOS technology, placing software maintenance in the hands of your friendly neighbourhood service provider.

The PIC comes with enough software for most tasks: a browser supporting Flash; email and messenger clients; MS compatible word processor and spreadsheet, and the ability to view images, multimedia files and several other standard document types.

For this kind of device specifications are secondary to other considerations - but we'll list them anyway. Memory is provided by a single 128MB SODIMM, drive space by a 10GB 3.5in hard drive, the processor is the 366Mhz Geode GX 500@1.0W, and ports provided are: 12V input for external AC adapter; VGA interface; 4 x USB 1.1 ports; 56Kbps V92 Fax/Modem port, and 3 ports for AC'97 audio. That's right - not even Ethernet, but for many people this will be their only computer, and there's always USB.

m Permalink | mini-link

The "iGrill"
January 17, 2005

James Goldsmith spotted the George Foreman USB iGrill April fools joke at Thinkgeek. Then he got thinking. The Mini-ITX form factor (170x170mm) was almost exactly the same width as a George Foreman "Junior" grill...

James Goldsmith's "iGrill"

m Permalink | mini-link

The "Gumball PC"
January 15, 2005

Hubba Bubba! Now here's a project you can really sink your teeth into.... You could say Richard E. Kohlman has a taste for the sweet things in life. Like a buffer overflow, his enthusiasm for old candy vending machines bubbled over into his computer consciousness. To double his pleasure, he built this lip smacking platform around an MII 10000 Mini-ITX board. After pulling together a whole pack of peripherals, Richard turned his restored gumball machine into a one of a kind computer confectionery dispenser. It's got all the fruit flavored sweetness of a real gumball machine, but with only half the noise of a typical PC - chew on that! Surely, 4 out of 5 dentists would agree.

Richard E. Kohlman's "Gumball PC"

m Permalink | mini-link

Apple's Mac mini's mini motherboard
January 14, 2005

Apple have released a small form factor computer in the shape of the Mac Mini. The Mac mini measures just 6.5" x 6.5" x 2", and is powered by an even smaller motherboard with a 1.25 or even 1.4Ghz G4 PowerPC CPU, and integrated ATI Radeon 9200 graphics. This is great news for the weeny PC community, and can only popularise our cause.

Macnews.de got their hands on one incredibly quickly and in possibly the first Mac mini warranty-voiding exercise ripped it open to reveal the innards. The board itself is slightly smaller than Mini-ITX at about 160mm square by our estimations, and includes Ethernet, Modem, DVI/VGA, 2 x USB, Firewire and Audio connectors (sadly not optical).

Front of Mac mini board

Reverse of Mac mini board

The Motorola MPC7447 (aka G4 CPU) can be seen on the front of the board, together with a connector for optional WiFi and/or Bluetooth and of course the single DIMM socket. On the reverse of the board is the ATI Radeon GPU,

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