Home | News Archive | September 2006

Intel's $1m Small Form Factor PC
September 26, 2006

The Intel® Core™ Processor Challenge was announced today at the Fall Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

Entries will be evaluated based on our favourite attributes of Aesthetics, Acoustics and Usability. You may submit up to five different and original designs featuring an Intel Core 2 Duo desktop or mobile processor in an Intel Viiv technology-based PC, but they must be fully functional - and not commercially released prior to March 1st 2007.

Entries must be under 12 litres in size, boot Windows XP MCE or Vista Premium, run Intel Viiv drivers on a Viiv chipset (any G965, P965, 975X, 945GM or 945GT will do) and have a SATA hard drive amongst other things. If we've read the rules correctly, then that makes the AOpen i945GTt-VFA Mini-ITX board an excellent starting point.

Intel will award the "Grand prize" winner with up to $300,000 for hard tooling costs of their winning design and $400,000 for co-marketing activities with Intel promoting the design. The "first place" winner will receive up to $300,000 for hard tooling of their winning design. Presumably there is no room at Intel for second place.

$1m in total prize money isn't to be sniffed at - but there's a minor spanner in the works. The competition is open only to OEM and ODM manufacturers, and not to individuals. For the few OEM and ODMs still reading, the competition closes on March 2nd 2007, and entry forms need to be in by January 15th 2007.

The Intel® Core™ Processor Challenge

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White Box 914 PC-BOT arrives
September 18, 2006

Model 914 PC-BOT and 9-Series PC-BOT

White Box Robotics have announced their Mini-ITX powered Model 914 PC-BOTS are finally available for purchase.

The 9-Series PC-BOT Chassis stands 21 inches tall and weighs in at 55 pounds. A two wheel drive train is driven by two DC stepper motors. One side bay holds 2x 12V 9Ah (45W) Lead Acid batteries (powered by a 12V intelligent battery charger) and 2x 12V DC converters to power the motherboard and various auxilliary components. The other side bay holds a VIA EPIA SP 13000 Mini-ITX motherboard with 1GB RAM, with a 40GB SATA 2.5in HDD, 802.11g USB Wi-Fi adapter and slimline optical combo drive for good measure.

A USB Machine Management Module controls the motors and links to the I/O board. The I/O board has 8 analog inputs, 8 digital outputs and 8 digital inputs, with space for another board. A head assembly contains a webcam. 5 IR sensors are installed in the bumper, with another 3 mounted in one of the 8x 5.25in drive bays.

The PC-BOT runs Windows XP Home and includes White Box's "Brian" Application Development Environment and API which allows you write custom algorithms for a wide range of behaviors including speech recognition, navigation, and artifical intelligence. Windows Services to integrate with Microsoft's Robotics Studio are being developed, as is Linux support.

The 914 version also throws in Injection moulded plastic body panels for the full effect.

Early adopters will need to stump up nearly $5K for a lovingly hand assembled 914 from the first low-volume short-run - though anyone who placed a deposit last year will benefit from a significant price reduction. White Box intend to offer the PC-BOT at a sub $2K price once they hit mass production.

White Box Robotics

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VIA's C7-D Carbon Free Processor
September 15, 2006

C7-D = 4 Trees

VIA have announced the world's first carbon free computer component, the C7-D processor.

This is how it works: For ever C7-D sold VIA calculates the electricity that it will use over an assumed usage of 3 years. They then calculate the amount of C02 released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels to make this electricity. VIA then works with local agencies to "offset" this amount of C02 by a) Planting enough trees to absorb this amount of C02 b) Promoting alternative energy sources or energy conservation to reduce the amount of C02 released.

Apparently it a C7-D CPU is worth about 4 broad-leaf trees. Which gives the C7-D a "Treemark" rating of 4. A 1.8GHz C7-D processor consumes about 20W of power.

It's unclear whether the C7-D is different from the standard C7 in any other way, but if other companies follow suit with carbon free initiatives as a result, this can only be a good thing.

VIA's C7-D Processor

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Thermaltake's Mozart TX Hybrid ATX / Mini-ITX Case
September 12, 2006


Thermaltake's Mozart TX VE1000 is a 330 x 360 x 720mm tower case which supports both a standard ATX (or BTX) motherboard, and a secondary Mini-ITX motherboard.

Without any peripherals the Mozart TX weighs in at 9Kg, or 16.5Kg for the SECC version (electrolytic zinc-plated steel) . It has 12 drive bays, 1 x 8cm vent and 10 x 12cm vents - 4 of which can be used to cool up to two radiators for liquid-based cooling.

A 7in drive bay at the top of the case can mount an optional retractable 7in LCD VGA touchscreen. There's a bunch of ports on the front panel, including eSATA.

To fit a Mini-ITX board in the Mozart TX an optional 270W power supply is required, which fits into any spare 5.25in drive bay.

Thermaltake MozartTX

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