PDA

View Full Version : How much longer for a really slim SlimServer?



nicketynick
2006-04-30, 15:46
Slim Devices has been absolutely brilliant with the ultimate Slim client (Squeezebox), I'm wondering how much longer until somebody turns their attention to a truly slim SlimServer appliance. The QNAP thingy is close, but they still sell you the storage, and don't provide an open-source interface. The NSLU2/Kurobox set-up is slightly underpowered and _way_ too hacker-centric. What I'm thinking is, the 'home PC' as we know it today won't be here in 5 (3?) years; everything will be an 'appliance'*. Your TB of tunes will not likely be stuck on a mechanical go-round thing either. So, is there some technical limitation I don't understand that is preventing somebody from putting together a 'slim device' with an HTTP interface (like a router), with a UI that allows for upgrading of the code/plugins, etc just like we do now? Storage would easily interface via USB (or whatever comes next).
So I guess the questions are: a) can it be done? and b) how much longer until it is?

Nick

*handheld email/internet, game console, etc. The PC will truly become nothing more than 'office equipment', and how many people _really_ have a home office?

ps Hey it is Slim Device_s_ Inc. - they really should have more than one!

Mark Lanctot
2006-04-30, 16:22
I would think the main thing holding this back is market forces. Progressive seems to be doing well with the Qnap, but it is a gamble.

I'd think it would be fun to start my own business with something like that, but it requires a lot of startup capital and it's easier said than done...

nicketynick
2006-04-30, 17:03
Good point! But for a company that has already invested a tidy sum in creating a market, it seems like a rather natural extension, doesn't it? I noticed that Sonos is now available at Future Shop - can you imagine all the folks who will drop the cash without really knowing what they're buying, or what the alternatives might be? I just think that our favourite company is soon going to have a deep enough market penetration (I know that everybody who sees my SB says "wow, I didn't know you could do that - cool!") that folks will be clamouring for new hardware from them - I just thought I'd be among the first to suggest that a 'slim' server would be ideal. I know I am sure having a hard time justifying a PC purchase in order to have a dedicated server! I would even pay a premium for 'slim', rather than have a dedicated PC, especially since quiet (silent?) is an important consideration for me.

opaqueice
2006-04-30, 17:17
My girlfriend really loves my squeezebox (is it just me, or does that sentence sound a little strange?), but she doesn't have a PC at home. She has a laptop, but sometimes it stays at the office.

So she's thinking of buying a desktop for home just so she can buy a SB as well, which is really kind of overkill... so slim devices, get on the ball - we need some squeezestorage!

Wirrunna
2006-04-30, 17:29
Interesting points, as a first stage perhaps the community could specify the hardware for a server - chip, motherboard, hard disks, leave the case up to the builder and prepare a LINUX distribution that would install as a Slim SlimServer without the builder having to know a thing about LINUX.

Is this being too simple ?
Or could a low end Dell server be chosen and a LINUX distribution built? Or could the LINUX build handle a wide range of hardware?
Probably like others, I have ended up with a server dedicated to SlimServer running WinXP because I know nothing about LINUX.

opaqueice
2006-04-30, 17:37
Why not just have an external HD that the SB can plug into directly? If it has a USB/firewire connection, you could load music onto it that way, or maybe also over the net.

nicketynick
2006-04-30, 18:11
Why not just have an external HD that the SB can plug into directly? If it has a USB/firewire connection, you could load music onto it that way, or maybe also over the net.

Well, if you're going to have more than one SB (we've already agreed on a 2nd, and I might even be able to wiggle a 3rd!), you want the storage central, with your network switch/router, never mind the WAF issues.
USB external drives are pretty ubiquitous these days - a slim device with 'adequate' processor (certainly less than GHz), USB interface, and LINUX OS like wirruna describes would be ideal.
(Isn't this pretty much just a hopped up NSLU2, with a built-in 'configuration utility'?)

Michaelwagner
2006-04-30, 19:14
It's obvious to many of us that something like this necessary, but it's not getting done, so something or someone must be underestimating the problem (or underestimating the need).

Having seen the flac Paul got for his little box, I'm not sure it's a business I'd want to get into.

I liked the audiotron because it just went and got the music and I didn't need to fuss with it.

But the part of the audiotron that corresponds to Slimserver was a fixed size, and couldn't take advantage of newer technologies that came along. Bad for geeks, inconsequential for people who just want a music appliance.

I think someone would have to come up with a box about the size of a Buffalo linkstation, but with a serious processor and memory in it, room for 2 hard disks, small quiet fan or else finned case.

Bad news is, it probably can't cost more than a squeezebox.

opaqueice
2006-04-30, 19:22
I think someone would have to come up with a box about the size of a Buffalo linkstation, but with a serious processor and memory in it, room for 2 hard disks, small quiet fan or else finned case.

Bad news is, it probably can't cost more than a squeezebox.

Amazingly, you can buy a new Dell running Windows, with a DVD drive, monitor, keyboard, etc. and a 160 GB HD... for $320 - $20 more than a wireless SB.

bigjules
2006-04-30, 19:27
I'm an IT geek.. and have slim running on my server at home (yes I really do have a home office). Also comfortable fiddling with things.

but if there was one, I would buy a NAS product from slim devices that ran slimserver properly and didn't require fiddling.

Mark Lanctot
2006-04-30, 19:45
I noticed that Sonos is now available at Future Shop - can you imagine all the folks who will drop the cash without really knowing what they're buying, or what the alternatives might be?

LOL! They selling these next to the $90 "Quest" receivers?!?

mherger
2006-05-01, 00:42
> I noticed that Sonos is now available at Future Shop - can you
> imagine all the folks who will drop the cash without really knowing
> what they're buying, or what the alternatives might be?

But that's not what your first posting was about: Sonos an open solution?

> I know I am sure having a hard
> time justifying a PC purchase in order to have a dedicated server!

That's easier with Sonos: the device is your computer. And it costs at
least as much :-)

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------
Help translate SlimServer by using the
SlimString Translation Helper (http://www.herger.net/slim/)

mherger
2006-05-01, 01:18
> I would think the main thing holding this back is market forces.

Exactly. And it's not one market. We're talking about very different
markets:

- Simple & silent: the NAS solution
- Cheap: the "turn-my-PC-into-Slimserver" solution
- Hifi: the "I want a component sized slimserver" solution
- Integrated: MeSue's very personal "I want a Squeezebox boombox." solution

....only to name a few. All of them have been asked for many times before.
And all of them have pros and cons. You mentioned some of them yourself
(performance, noise, energy consumption, geekiness, money...).

When I was working on SlimCD and saw the interest in it (it has been
downloaded a few thousand times) I was thinking about extending it to be
the SlimLinux distribution, easily installed on any PC, possibly selling
it pre-installed on some silent, low power PC (mini itx). But I think
there's just no market for such a niche product, if you don't have other
products to sell in masses. SB imho is still a niche product. A Slimserver
hardware solution would be a niche product within a niche market. Paul is
selling NAS devices - selling a value added version with slimserver
installed is a plus compared to other NAS devices. But I'm sure hew
wouldn't sell that box if he didn't sell other NAS boxes, too.

I only see two possible solutions:

- Hifi or integrated: SD take the risk and sell a box for good money:
cheap just isn't an option if you have to earn money with little volume.
This will therefore be too expensive for most of us, and probably not as
open as you'd like.

- Cheap: The community creates some SlimLinux/SlimNAS distribution with an
easy installer, Samba and integrated web interface for PC based hardware.
That would be the open, cheap solution. But hey, somebody has to do this.
For free. Any volunteers? (Be warned: users want more than this. NFS will
be next. Why not add LinVDR?...)

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------
Help translate SlimServer by using the
SlimString Translation Helper (http://www.herger.net/slim/)

Paul_B
2006-05-01, 13:38
Okay fairly new to the whole MP3 and streaming game, although I have been IT for years. What I like about the Squeezebox is it doesn't look like a PC, it is a quality product that you can attach neatly to the wall. I have a Qnap NAS device which is fantastic. It is always on but is not a big bulky PC and attaches to by wireless ethernet bridge. I have decided that wired network points is still much better than wireless and will be installing cat 6 cable as I re-decorate.

My biggest issue is finding a small neat amp to partner the squeezebox and install some in-wall / in ceiling speakers. I think the solution will be the so called T-amps. I would like Squeezebox to offer this solution or provide quality active / powered speakers

azinck3
2006-05-01, 13:46
My biggest issue is finding a small neat amp to partner the squeezebox and install some in-wall / in ceiling speakers. I think the solution will be the so called T-amps. I would like Squeezebox to offer this solution or provide quality active / powered speakers

Have you been unable to find active speakers? Strikes me that it would be quite a challenge for Slim to ramp up a speaker business when there are already so many great products on the market. What would they have that the others don't?

Michaelwagner
2006-05-01, 14:08
What would they have that the others don't?
Brushed Aluminum face plates that say Slim Devices.

azinck3
2006-05-01, 14:15
Brushed Aluminum face plates that say Slim Devices.

I have to admit, that'd be quite sexy.

And props to slim on the logo design--it's one of my favorites.

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-01, 15:25
Brushed Aluminum face plates that say Slim Devices.

Sign me up for 5 pairs!

Err, maybe not. ;-)

JJZolx
2006-05-01, 16:35
Slim Devices has been absolutely brilliant with the ultimate Slim client (Squeezebox), I'm wondering how much longer until somebody turns their attention to a truly slim SlimServer appliance. The QNAP thingy is close, but they still sell you the storage, and don't provide an open-source interface. The NSLU2/Kurobox set-up is slightly underpowered and _way_ too hacker-centric. What I'm thinking is, the 'home PC' as we know it today won't be here in 5 (3?) years; everything will be an 'appliance'*. Your TB of tunes will not likely be stuck on a mechanical go-round thing either. So, is there some technical limitation I don't understand that is preventing somebody from putting together a 'slim device' with an HTTP interface (like a router), with a UI that allows for upgrading of the code/plugins, etc just like we do now? Storage would easily interface via USB (or whatever comes next).
So I guess the questions are: a) can it be done? and b) how much longer until it is?
I think I've said in the past that someone would do well selling turnkey Slim Server machines. I think they still would, but it's a small market and one which is obviously broken up into people who want different things from their server.

First off, you can run Slim Server with pretty good success on your everyday desktop system. As Slim Server evolves, though, I think this will be less and less true. This is going to make it increasingly desirable for people to have a dedicated server.

Some of the varying goals:

Cheap. Just something to get Slim Server off of the desktop system.
Low power use. For the penny pinchers, environmentalists, and those people unfortunate enough to live where electricity is very expensive.
Low noise. For folks that insist on the server being located in the listening room. Or those that can't tolerate system noise when the server is located in an office or a bedroom.
High performance. Feeding many Squeezeboxes, or with several users using the web interface, or desiring very fast library scans of large music libraries.
Small size. Again, for those locating the server in the music room, living in small apartments, or wanting something they can stash in a nook somewhere.
Storage capacity. Able to house multiple hard drives for large libraries and future expansion needs.
Robustness. RAID disk subsystems, redundant PSUs, and other trappings of a 'real' 24x7 server.

Some of the conflicts here should be obvious. A server with RAID5 isn't likely to be cheap. If you want capacity and the ability house, say, five hard drives, it isn't going to be small, nor is it likely to be quiet due to cooling needs.

I like your idea of a web management interface, but see some of this as features that should eventually make it into Slim Server itself. Particularly the ability to install and manage plugins from the web UI.

nicketynick
2006-05-01, 18:54
I think I've said in the past that someone would do well selling turnkey Slim Server machines. I think they still would, but it's a small market and one which is obviously broken up into people who want different things from their server.

First off, you can run Slim Server with pretty good success on your everyday desktop system. As Slim Server evolves, though, I think this will be less and less true. This is going to make it increasingly desirable for people to have a dedicated server.

Some of the varying goals:

Cheap. Just something to get Slim Server off of the desktop system.
Low power use. For the penny pinchers, environmentalists, and those people unfortunate enough to live where electricity is very expensive.
Low noise. For folks that insist on the server being located in the listening room. Or those that can't tolerate system noise when the server is located in an office or a bedroom.
High performance. Feeding many Squeezeboxes, or with several users using the web interface, or desiring very fast library scans of large music libraries.
Small size. Again, for those locating the server in the music room, living in small apartments, or wanting something they can stash in a nook somewhere.
Storage capacity. Able to house multiple hard drives for large libraries and future expansion needs.
Robustness. RAID disk subsystems, redundant PSUs, and other trappings of a 'real' 24x7 server.

Some of the conflicts here should be obvious. A server with RAID5 isn't likely to be cheap. If you want capacity and the ability house, say, five hard drives, it isn't going to be small, nor is it likely to be quiet due to cooling needs.

I like your idea of a web management interface, but see some of this as features that should eventually make it into Slim Server itself. Particularly the ability to install and manage plugins from the web UI.

You've hit the nail on the head with the first five bullets, and I think they're all compatible. But I think you're a little off the mark when it comes to storage requirements. Storage is evolving so quickly, and becoming increasingly cheaper as we go - I don't see that it should be integrated into the 'server' at all - the server should just have the appropriate interfaces. USB2 is doing a good job right now - how much longer until we have 100 GB of 'flash' memory (or whatever they come up with next) through an even faster interface? Redundant systems will be a simple matter of plugging into a bunch of USB slots and pressing the button!
I'm glad you like the web management interface idea. As much as I'd like to become proficient in Linux (and perl for that matter), I just don't have the time, so it would be nice to have something that I can configure in a manner similar to the router without having to know all the Linux stuff that's making it happen!

jbm
2006-05-03, 10:31
2006-05-01-19:35:38 JJZolx:
> - Cheap. Just something to get Slim Server off of the desktop
> system.
> - Low power use. For the penny pinchers, environmentalists, and
> those people unfortunate enough to live where electricity is very
> expensive.
> - Low noise. For folks that insist on the server being located in
> the listening room. Or those that can't tolerate system noise when
> the server is located in an office or a bedroom.
> - High performance. Feeding many Squeezeboxes, or with several users
> using the web interface, or desiring very fast library scans of large
> music libraries.
> - Small size. Again, for those locating the server in the music
> room, living in small apartments, or wanting something they can stash
> in a nook somewhere.
> - Storage capacity. Able to house multiple hard drives for large
> libraries and future expansion needs.
> - Robustness. RAID disk subsystems, redundant PSUs, and other
> trappings of a 'real' 24x7 server.

As I'm sure most of you are aware, there's a device which hits a number
of these bullets:

- Cheap -- kinda, for its functionality, but maybe not enough for the
intent of the poster;

- Low power: yes, compared to general-purpose PCs with that much disk.

- Low noise: doesn't quite make it; certainly not for installation in
the listening room. But as I read it, one of the strengths of the
SlimServer model is that the server and its disk farm don't have to
be in the listening room...

- High performance: maybe middlin'. For small values of "many" or
"very fast" :-)

- Small size: approx. 8x5x9 inches, for something containing 2TB of
disk is pretty dense...

- Storage capacity: fully stuffed with 500GB disks, 1.4TB usable space
in RAID-5.

- Robustness: RAID yes, redundant power supplies no. But it does have
the ability to monitor the UPS it's connected to, if a sufficiently
mainstream model, so as to do a safe shutdown in the face of wall
power disappearing; and if you choose to stock a replacement power
supply and fan for it (both available as spares), you're ready for a
quick swap in the face of failures of either of those.

That device is the Infrant ReadyNAS NV.

http://www.infrant.com/

I'm using one, and am far more happy with it than not. Note that
(partly because I already had the other server configured, and partly
because I expect the plug-in on the NAS to run slower) I'm just using
the NAS for storage, connected via gigabit copper to a Linux box running
SlimServer; but Infrant support a SlimServer plugin which runs directly
on the NAS. [It might be best to upgrade the NV's RAM for decent
performance if it's to run SlimServer -- details are available on their
support and forum pages].

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-03, 13:31
Speaking of "slim", I'm wondering if it would be possible to install SlimServer on a gumstix computer!

http://www.gumstix.com/

I haven't played around with a gumstix. The 400 MHz CPU sounds like just enough, but the 16 MB ROM/64 MB RAM I'm seeing would be an issue.

You could use a CF-IDE adapter to get it to use a 250 - 500 GB drive for the music library.

I'm not sure if it's possible or if it would be responsive, but it'd be fun to play with. :-)

nicketynick
2006-05-03, 19:09
Speaking of "slim", I'm wondering if it would be possible to install SlimServer on a gumstix computer!

http://www.gumstix.com/

I haven't played around with a gumstix. The 400 MHz CPU sounds like just enough, but the 16 MB ROM/64 MB RAM I'm seeing would be an issue.

You could use a CF-IDE adapter to get it to use a 250 - 500 GB drive for the music library.

I'm not sure if it's possible or if it would be responsive, but it'd be fun to play with. :-)

Exactly what I was thinking after seeing your post in the other thread. I was hoping someone more knowledgable (like you!) would be able to enlighten the rest of us lurkers here! Guess we'll just have to wait and see......
I'm trying to figure out how to build a server box for SlimCD for $200 or so (NSLU2 without the hacking - its a challenge!), maybe one of these will make it possible?

Michaelwagner
2006-05-03, 19:18
I couldn't find a way to "stick" more memory in these, though.

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-03, 21:09
I couldn't find a way to "stick" more memory in these, though.

...that's the dealbreaker.

The device's RAM may be sufficient. 64 MB is what the Linkstation has. But the ROM is 16 MB - this has to house the Linux kernel and all its associated services. Trying to stick Perl and SlimServer on top of that wouldn't work.

If there was some way to install Perl and SS on the hard drive, then maybe.

Building a SlimServer server out of a gumstix platform would be fun, challenging and it could be cheap. It may not be practical - the 400 MHz CPU sounds barely OK, but keep in mind it's not an x86 processor, it's a RISC processor like those used in PocketPCs. It does meet the requirement for fanless/silent operation though, but its main advantage, incredibly small size, is largely wasted if you use a 3.5" drive for music storage that's 3X its width...

The ideal silent server is made of a fanless mini-ITX board. They have loads of computing power and use standard RAM and hard drives. They are pricey though.

I believe there are other "computers on a board" that may be suitable. I'm thinking of embedded platforms that typically use AMD Geode processors. Google shows "SOM" (system-on-module) and PC/104 platforms. You can use more standard computer hardware with these, and one of the SOMs supports up to 512 MB of RAM...

Michaelwagner
2006-05-04, 03:07
Well, it might be possible, in Slimserver 7, when they break Slimserver up, to run the low level device interaction thread on one stick, and the higher level stuff on a second stick. Then a 2 stick multiprocessor might be big enough.

Michaelwagner
2006-05-04, 03:10
And if it's ready by next April, think of how much fun you could have writing your own press release, full of "stick-em up" humour.

(well, humor for the Americans)

Michaelwagner
2006-05-04, 03:22
64 MB is what the Linkstation has. But the ROM is 16 MB - this has to house the Linux kernel and all its associated services. Trying to stick Perl and SlimServer on top of that wouldn't work.

Why does all that have to be in ROM?

No one else's ROM does all that. Most "big" computers load the kernel off a hard disk, why couldn't this one?


If there was some way to install Perl and SS on the hard drive, then maybe.

Surely *some* way exists, since that's how every other computer does it.


Google shows "SOM" (system-on-module) and PC/104 platforms. You can use more standard computer hardware with these, and one of the SOMs supports up to 512 MB of RAM...
You're right, that might be easier. Certainly shoe-horning Slimserver into 64Mb would be a challenge at the moment, and there's no indication they're moving in the direction of a smaller RAM footprint.

mherger
2006-05-04, 03:25
> Well, it might be possible, in Slimserver 7, when they break Slimserver
> up, to run the low level device interaction thread on one stick, and
> the higher level stuff on a second stick. Then a 2 stick multiprocessor
> might be big enough.

I'd go with the 1 stick unit, keeping the database on that cheap-o remote
web server, sporting a 4GHz CPU ;-)

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------
Help translate SlimServer by using the
SlimString Translation Helper (http://www.herger.net/slim/)

Michaelwagner
2006-05-04, 04:00
All of which goes to prove that while "Breaking up (Slimserver) might be hard to do", ultimately it'll be worth it if we can scatter bits over several computing resources, possibly diverse.

Who knows, maybe my level 2 code will run in Switzerland :-)

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-04, 05:50
Well, it might be possible, in Slimserver 7, when they break Slimserver up, to run the low level device interaction thread on one stick, and the higher level stuff on a second stick. Then a 2 stick multiprocessor might be big enough.

LOL!

This is sounding like fun.

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-04, 05:59
Why does all that have to be in ROM?

It's a flash-based, embedded platform.



No one else's ROM does all that. Most "big" computers load the kernel off a hard disk, why couldn't this one?

It's like a PocketPC - all the programs are stored in ROM. There isn't supposed to be a hard drive.

However you do have CF slots with some of them. You can load bigger packages in CF and with a CF-IDE adapter I suppose you could tie it to a honkin' big 500 GB 3.5" HDD.

You're right, I see no reason why you can't have software installed on the CF (or CF-IDE).



Surely *some* way exists, since that's how every other computer does it.

Yes, I really ought to start playing with one of these things before I make statements like that. You just mount the CF/IDE drive using standard procedures for mounting a drive.



You're right, that might be easier. Certainly shoe-horning Slimserver into 64Mb would be a challenge at the moment, and there's no indication they're moving in the direction of a smaller RAM footprint.

And there's no way to increase the RAM. At least with the SOM/ PC/104 boards you can use standard RAM modules. The SOM / PC/104 gear isn't intended for consumers though, so it may be hard to get.

This is all sounding like a complicated solution for a relatively simple problem. It may just be easier and cheaper to hack a NAS box. But it wouldn't be as fun. ;-)

bill fumerola
2006-05-06, 18:03
On Wed, May 03, 2006 at 09:09:03PM -0700, Mark Lanctot wrote:
> The device's RAM may be sufficient. 64 MB is what the Linkstation has.
> But the ROM is 16 MB - this has to house the Linux kernel and all its
> associated services. Trying to stick Perl and SlimServer on top of
> that wouldn't work.

nope. the rom is bootstrap, loader, etc. you don't stick perl et al onto
the flash.

-- bill fumerola

bill fumerola
2006-05-06, 18:05
On Thu, May 04, 2006 at 05:59:40AM -0700, Mark Lanctot wrote:
> Michaelwagner Wrote:
> > Why does all that have to be in ROM?
>
> It's a flash-based, embedded platform.

at least for the terastation, it boots the majority off of a RAID-1
striped across the four disks.

if the linkstation is dramatically different, you could still put perl,
slimserver, etc onto a ramdisk or nfs mount or usb hdd. my linkstation
is on loan to someone or i'd look.

-- bill fumerola

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-06, 18:11
On Thu, May 04, 2006 at 05:59:40AM -0700, Mark Lanctot wrote:
> Michaelwagner Wrote:
> > Why does all that have to be in ROM?
>
> It's a flash-based, embedded platform.

at least for the terastation, it boots the majority off of a RAID-1
striped across the four disks.


I was referring to the gumstix, not the TeraStation.

Michaelwagner
2006-05-06, 18:15
but since you'd need to have a disk in order to make a gumstick into a slim server platform, why not put linux and perl on the disk?

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-06, 19:23
but since you'd need to have a disk in order to make a gumstick into a slim server platform, why not put linux and perl on the disk?

Linux is already in the ROM. Yes, I'd put Perl and SlimServer on the disk.

Although I'm beginning to think it's more of a Rube Goldberg device. :-)

Michaelwagner
2006-05-07, 04:21
I'm beginning to think it's more of a Rube Goldberg device. :-)
Surely you're not old enough to remember Rube Goldberg ...

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-07, 07:42
Surely you're not old enough to remember Rube Goldberg ...

No but I have heard about what his machines did. :-)

It's kind of hard to justify it when I can get a motherboard with an AMD XP-M 2800+ onboard for $117 CDN: http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=18005&promoid=1068

nicketynick
2006-05-07, 07:51
No but I have heard about what his machines did. :-)

It's kind of hard to justify it when I can get a motherboard with an AMD XP-M 2800+ onboard for $117 CDN: http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=18005&promoid=1068

Yeah, but now you're sliding away from low power and quiet, key criteria for a slim Slimserver! But I'm beginning to resign myself to the fact that its about the best that can be done (for now).

EnochLight
2006-05-07, 08:05
...What I'm thinking is, the 'home PC' as we know it today won't be here in 5 (3?) years; everything will be an 'appliance'*...

I personally feel this statement is inaccurate. The 'home PC' as we know it will change very little in the next 3 to 5 years, aside from OS, interface standards (HDMI, DisplayPort, etc), and hardware advances (CPU, HD-DVD or Blue-Ray for optical drives, hard drive technology advances, memory advances, etc).

The 'home PC' industry is a billion dollar market in peripheral sales; it's unlikely an appliance-based evolution will occur as quickly as you speculate. Just my 2 cents.

nicketynick
2006-05-07, 08:39
I personally feel this statement is inaccurate. The 'home PC' as we know it will change very little in the next 3 to 5 years, aside from OS, interface standards (HDMI, DisplayPort, etc), and hardware advances (CPU, HD-DVD or Blue-Ray for optical drives, hard drive technology advances, memory advances, etc).

The 'home PC' industry is a billion dollar market in peripheral sales; it's unlikely an appliance-based evolution will occur as quickly as you speculate. Just my 2 cents.

We're almost saying the same thing from different sides - the billion dollar peripheral market is exactly the 'appliances' I'm talking about, and some are already here. For example, printers that will print directly from your camera - no messing about with the PC required.

EnochLight
2006-05-07, 09:02
I think I understand what you're saying. Yet you must agree, the Dells, HP's, Alienware, Macs, etc, of the desktop world are going to be here pretty much in their current form for at least the next 5 years (and more).

nicketynick
2006-05-07, 09:04
Oh, absolutely. But I think they'll be taking a backseat to the appliance/peripheral market. You can already see the change in emphasis in Dell's advertising.

EnochLight
2006-05-07, 09:24
A backseat? I'll believe it when it happens. A typical desktop PC/Mac has so much more versatility and power than a single "appliance" based peripheal. Printers that can be hooked up to your camera and monitors with TV-tuners are fine and dandy for some, but most will still prefer a monitor, keyboard, and mouse for their window into the Internet and the ability to:


Surf the web, email, word processing, etc
Video gaming
Record and edit movies (home, commercial, TV, etc)
Record and edit music (production, DAW's, etc)
Photo editing and picture library management
Media servers (Squeezeboxes, Rokus, movies, whatever)


...I could go on forever. Specialized appliances have been around for a very long time; we still have desktop/laptop computers in the foreground though...

But... don't get me wrong: I agree that "appliance" based periph's will gain in popularity. Windows Vista and Mac's next flavor will keep the deskstop/laptop market strong though. In the foreground, no doubt.

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-07, 13:57
Ehh, "appliances" were supposed to take over computers ~5 years ago. Remember WebTV?

EnochLight
2006-05-07, 15:22
Remember WebTV?

LOL - exactly!

Jacob Potter
2006-05-07, 16:00
On 5/7/06, nicketynick
<nicketynick.27fztn1147013701 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:
> Yeah, but now you're sliding away from low power and quiet, key
> criteria for a slim Slimserver! But I'm beginning to resign myself to
> the fact that its about the best that can be done (for now).

Quiet?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16835185001

You won't even need the fan with that procesor and some slight underclocking...

nicketynick
2006-05-07, 18:45
I guess I'm losing this argument, but consider how things such as cell phones, Black Berries, Xbox, Playstation, iPod and Tivo are used today. There is a whole generation growing up now that will use a PC at work, and won't look at one outside of work. Heck, now that I have SB3, I don't even go to the computer for the weather forecast, I just look at my SB3!

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-07, 19:34
I guess I'm losing this argument, but consider how things such as cell phones, Black Berries, Xbox, Playstation, iPod and Tivo are used today. There is a whole generation growing up now that will use a PC at work, and won't look at one outside of work. Heck, now that I have SB3, I don't even go to the computer for the weather forecast, I just look at my SB3!

I don't necessarily think you're losing the argument. :-) It's just that when "appliances" first came into being ~5 years ago and analysts predicted the demise of the PC, technology was different. Appliances back then were truly dumb devices.

Today's "appliance" has almost as much computing power as a conventional PC and could only be called an appliance due to its OS or external connectivity. Take a look at the PocketPC. This is no organizer of yesteryear. As the gumstix shows, you can run Linux off that processor.

Appliances as they were first pictured died off because their use was too limited while their cost was too high. WebTV could only browse the web and send/receive e-mail, yet it cost 1/2 (?) of what a computer did at the time. Totally impractical.

So an appliance today is really a PC.

nicketynick
2006-05-07, 20:16
I don't necessarily think you're losing the argument. :-) It's just that when "appliances" first came into being ~5 years ago and analysts predicted the demise of the PC, technology was different. Appliances back then were truly dumb devices.

Today's "appliance" has almost as much computing power as a conventional PC and could only be called an appliance due to its OS or external connectivity. Take a look at the PocketPC. This is no organizer of yesteryear. As the gumstix shows, you can run Linux off that processor.

Appliances as they were first pictured died off because their use was too limited while their cost was too high. WebTV could only browse the web and send/receive e-mail, yet it cost 1/2 (?) of what a computer did at the time. Totally impractical.

So an appliance today is really a PC.

I guess that's what I've been saying. I'm unencumbered by the historical definition of appliance you're referring to. Yes, today's and tomorrow's appliances have processing power similar to a PC from last year, and that's my point (heck, I remember when 64kB gave you an unimaginable amount of processing power!). Clever people have realized that they can sell a PC (Xbox) as an appliance, and even more specialized items like SB3 & BlackBerry are getting bigger chunks of the market. Which gets me back to where I started - when do we get a slim Slimserver? Speaking of PocketPCs, it can't be too much longer until it will be possible to run Slimserver on one of them (or is there one here already?) Perhaps 'SlimCD' on a memory card, with firewire to a HD? You never know what some genius is going to come up with.... I just know I'll be the first one in line to buy it when I can get a Slimserver that sits there innocuously like the modem & the router!

Edit: heck, about the only thing you need today's processing power for is 3D rendering (Xbox is eating up that market), and high-end modelling (climate models, etc.) How many people even come close to 'working' their processors? (well, except for when Windoze screws things up!)

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-07, 20:27
Perhaps what's holding back such devices is storage.

SD/CF capacities are growing but are still nowhere near what's required for a sizeable lossless library.

Microdrives are bigger but nowhere near big enough.

You still need a 3.5" HDD to store that 100 GB+ worth of data. And for some, one HDD isn't enough. 500 GB drives are the practical maximum now, although 750 GB drives have been released. However some want 1 TB+. You just can't fit that much storage into a small device, not even one 3.5" HDD right now.

...yet!

I keep hearing persistent rumours of holographic storage media that may make this possible, but so far it's vapourware.

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-07, 20:31
Edit: heck, about the only thing you need today's processing power for is 3D rendering (Xbox is eating up that market), and high-end modelling (climate models, etc.) How many people even come close to 'working' their processors? (well, except for when Windoze screws things up!)

Yes, the only time you really need your processor in the SlimServer world is for FLAC/MP3 encoding as you rip. That's when you use every ounce of its power.

For running SS, it's mostly just cruising along. In the "how big is your library" thread note snarlydwarf is using a 400 MHz PII.

EnochLight
2006-05-07, 20:56
...heck, about the only thing you need today's processing power for is 3D rendering (Xbox is eating up that market), and high-end modelling (climate models, etc.) How many people even come close to 'working' their processors? (well, except for when Windoze screws things up!)

Wow - I'm practically speechless by this comment. But before I continue, don't take offense nicketynick; I just think that your use of your personal computer is highly under utilized.

I own a Playstation and an Xbox; although I enjoy gaming on them, my computer offers gaming that both of those platforms cannot touch. In fact, I have been doing high-definition gaming on my PC since the late 90's, as most desktop gamers have been doing at greater than 1024 x 768 resolution. It's only been with the XBox 360 released just several months ago and the soon-to-be released PS3 that Hi-Def gaming comes to the typical home user.

Great that the consoles finally caught up!

Further more, high-end modelling might be popular in workstations and computers used at your local weather station or science lab, but the typical home user it busy:


Importing their photos from their digital camera and editing them in Photoshop (or other software) which eats up CPU cycles like no tomorrow
Sync'ing their iPod and managing their music library (or Squeezebox).. ;-)
Importing, recording, and/or editing movies (whether it be home-made or commercial)
Burning DVD's, software, CD's, etc
Gaming (ofcourse), right down to simple stuff like Solitaire


...and that's just "typical" home user stuff. More specialized areas include music production (every Hollywood-associated producer worth their weight in silicon has digital audio/video workstation software installed on their laptops), education, your typical PowerPoint presentation for the office - where does it stop?

No, I think that the personal computer/desktop/laptop and the need for more powerful processors will be around for *SOME* time to come, even though more specialized appliances might steal some of the limelight.

I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. ;-)

mherger
2006-05-07, 23:30
> SD/CF capacities are growing but are still nowhere near what's required
> for a sizeable lossless library.
> Microdrives are bigger but nowhere near big enough.
> You still need a 3.5" HDD to store that 100 GB+ worth of data.

You name the perfect example to prove that appliances are entering our
homes: Network Attached Storage - NAS. They're everywhere. They won't
replace the PC, but they will take over some specialized tasks.

> some, one HDD isn't enough. 500 GB drives are the practical maximum
> now, although 750 GB drives have been released. However some want 1
> TB+. You just can't fit that much storage into a small device, not
> even one 3.5" HDD right now.

A Terastation is still an appliance, even though it's larger than your MP3
player.

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------
Help translate SlimServer by using the
SlimString Translation Helper (http://www.herger.net/slim/)

peter
2006-05-08, 00:09
On Mon, 08 May 2006 08:30:34 +0200, "Michael Herger" <slim (AT) herger (DOT) net>
said:
> > SD/CF capacities are growing but are still nowhere near what's required
> > for a sizeable lossless library.
> > Microdrives are bigger but nowhere near big enough.
> > You still need a 3.5" HDD to store that 100 GB+ worth of data.
>
> You name the perfect example to prove that appliances are entering our
> homes: Network Attached Storage - NAS. They're everywhere. They won't
> replace the PC, but they will take over some specialized tasks.

The fact that many people are desperately trying to mod their NASes to
get them to run all kinds of server software (like slimserver) proves
that people really want servers. They're just in denial... ;)

> > some, one HDD isn't enough. 500 GB drives are the practical maximum
> > now, although 750 GB drives have been released. However some want 1
> > TB+. You just can't fit that much storage into a small device, not
> > even one 3.5" HDD right now.
>
> A Terastation is still an appliance, even though it's larger than your
> MP3
> player.

Nope, it's a castrated server, just like the Tivo...

That's why so many people are attempting to (re)attach balls to these
'appliances':

http://www.terastation.org/wiki/Hacking
http://www.keegan.org/jeff/tivo/hackingtivo.html

Regards,
Peter

nicketynick
2006-05-08, 07:41
What is a Media Center PC but a big powerful appliance. Hook it up to the TV, operate it with the remote......

EnochLight
2006-05-08, 16:36
What is a Media Center PC but a big powerful appliance. Hook it up to the TV, operate it with the remote......

Well of course, but if you want to play with words then you can consider any home desktop/laptop computer as an "appliance" as well.

In that regard, then the "appliances" have already become standard in most households. ;-)

dean
2006-05-08, 22:34
On May 7, 2006, at 1:57 PM, Mark Lanctot wrote:
> Ehh, "applicances" were supposed to take over computers ~5 years ago.
> Remember WebTV?

Very well. :)

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-09, 05:46
On May 7, 2006, at 1:57 PM, Mark Lanctot wrote:
> Ehh, "applicances" were supposed to take over computers ~5 years ago.
> Remember WebTV?

Very well. :)

oh yeah, you were one of the developers. <blush>

http://www.potaroo.net/ietf/all-ids/draft-blackketter-lid-00.txt