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View Full Version : Cheap, low power PC for slimserver



Robin Bowes
2006-08-25, 05:59
I've just stumbled across this [1] device which, at first glance, looks
like it would make an ideal low power PC on which to run slimserver.

Throw in an external USB disk for music library storage and install
puppy linux or similar and you're off!

I might get one to play with ...

R.

[1] http://www.norhtec.com/products/mcjr/index.html

srasher
2006-08-25, 06:12
Looks nice at first glance. I just saw on the details page that it is based on a 166MHz processor, which means it's even got less performance than typical NAS devices. And I think even these are quickly reaching their performance limits as soon as you'd like to install more than a few plugins (maybe some transcoding stuff like AlienBBC etc.)...

Anyway, if you get one, I'd really like to read something about your experiences!

Cheers,
Sebastian

Mark Lanctot
2006-08-25, 06:14
Now that is cool! Cheap, fanless, comes with everything you need - just looking at the back I was going to say there'd be trouble with a primary + backup drive with only one USB port, but of course there are two ports in the front. 128 MB of RAM should be better than a lot of the NAS devices.

Bet they're going to sell a lot of "evaluation" units. ;-)

The size is pretty amazing - smaller than most external drive enclosures I've seen!

I wish they used an SD slot instead of CF. CF is on the decline now, while SD is becoming very popular and very cheap. 18 months ago I got a 512 MB SD for $85. Now I can get a 2 GB for $70 ($50 after rebate!) SD slots are also smaller of course.

Mark Lanctot
2006-08-25, 06:21
I just saw on the details page that it is based on a 166MHz processor, which means it's even got less performance than typical NAS devices.

Clock speed isn't everything...from a page on one of their other products, the MicroServer GP/GP+ (http://www.norhtec.com/products/gp/details.html):


NorhTec's first microservers are based on the SiS 55x SoC. The SiS 55x is a x86 MMX compatible CPU that offers superscaler execution and a pipelined floating point unit. The SIS 55x has three superpipelined Inter Units. This means that for a given clock cycle, the SiS 55x can execute more than one instruction. For example, at 100 Mhz, the SiS 55x offers the same computational power as a 233Mhz MMX.

So a 166 MHz processor of this type might be competitive with a processor in an average NAS, maybe more so.

They have other similar products, although more expensive, that would be suitable for running SlimServer.

Robin Bowes
2006-08-25, 06:27
I've sent them an email asking about buying one. I'm in the UK which
might be a bit of an issue.

Will report back if I get one.

Next job is to try slimserver on a Kuro-box/HG

R.

Mark Lanctot
2006-08-25, 06:38
Incidentally I never knew SiS made SoCs, nor did I know that SoCs could have x86 processors in them. The SoCs I'd heard of are ones used in routers which have a small processor + MAC chip, but the SoCs these devices use combine processor, northbridge, southbridge, video and sound chips.

mherger
2006-08-25, 06:45
> devices use combine processor, northbridge, southbridge, video and
> sound chips.

What about memory? Do you know wheterh it can be upgraded?

--

Michael

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

audiofi
2006-08-25, 06:55
I've sent them an email asking about buying one. I'm in the UK which
might be a bit of an issue.

Will report back if I get one.

Next job is to try slimserver on a Kuro-box/HG

R.

I've contacted them before about one of their other computers and they were happy to sell to the UK, ship it over etc.

Seemed very helpful so I don't think you should have any problems

Mark Lanctot
2006-08-25, 07:01
What about memory? Do you know wheterh it can be upgraded?

There are no internal shots of the MicroClient Junior, but there is one of the MicroServer GP/GP+:

http://www.norhtec.com/products/gp/gpinside.jpg

Look on the right - that looks very much like a SODIMM package and slot like that used by laptops. It's PC133 SDRAM. The SiS 55x SoCs can support up to 1 GB:

http://www.sis.com/products/sis55xfamily_features.htm

Hopefully the MicroClient Junior has the same slot and it isn't soldered-in.

Robin Bowes
2006-08-25, 07:22
Mark Lanctot wrote:
>
> Hopefully the MicroClient Junior has the same slot and it isn't
> soldered-in.

I seem to remember reading that the RAM *is* soldered to the MCJr board,
but I can't find where I read it.

R.

blackbear
2006-08-25, 10:12
Interesting piece of hardware.
Is that cpu really sufficient to do on-the-fly transcoding in order to support formats not native to our beloved SB? I once tried FLAC-to-MP3 transcoding and that ate up about 30% of a 1.2 GHz Athlon cpu.

Also, how can they say it is ideal for use as a firewall, when it only has one ethernet connection?

Robin Bowes
2006-08-25, 10:29
blackbear wrote:
> Interesting piece of hardware.
> Is that cpu really sufficient to do on-the-fly transcoding in order to
> support formats not native to our beloved SB? I once tried FLAC-to-MP3
> transcoding and that ate up about 30% of a 1.2 GHz Athlon cpu.

Flac->Wav is a relatively lightweight operation. In fact, most decoding
is fairly lightweight compared to encoding. So, there's always .wav to
fall back on if you haven't got the grunt to encode to mp3.

> Also, how can they say it is ideal for use as a firewall, when it only
> has one ethernet connection?

One of the optional extras is a second ethernet connection.

R.

blackbear
2006-08-25, 11:06
blackbear wrote:
> Interesting piece of hardware.
> Is that cpu really sufficient to do on-the-fly transcoding in order to
> support formats not native to our beloved SB? I once tried FLAC-to-MP3
> transcoding and that ate up about 30% of a 1.2 GHz Athlon cpu.

Flac->Wav is a relatively lightweight operation. In fact, most decoding
is fairly lightweight compared to encoding. So, there's always .wav to
fall back on if you haven't got the grunt to encode to mp3.

> Also, how can they say it is ideal for use as a firewall, when it only
> has one ethernet connection?

One of the optional extras is a second ethernet connection.

R.

How did you do that nice quoting in blue?

I merely tried the flac->mp3 transcoding in order to test streaming to a remote location. As for a lan, you are obviously correct in that transcoding to .wav (for the formats the need transcoding) is the way to go, for several reasons.

A second ethernet connection is indeed an option. I have no idea how I missed that. Thanks for pointing it out!

While the MicroClient Jr. certainly looks cute, the cuteness will be somewhat compromised by the external disk needed for user as a Slimserver box, in my opinion. Looking at NorhTec's site, there are some other nice fanless machines there, that are also very modestly priced, and that have room for an internal disk.

Robin Bowes
2006-08-25, 12:55
blackbear wrote:
> Robin Bowes;131036 Wrote:
>> blackbear wrote:
>>> Interesting piece of hardware.
>>> Is that cpu really sufficient to do on-the-fly transcoding in order
>> to
>>> support formats not native to our beloved SB? I once tried
>> FLAC-to-MP3
>>> transcoding and that ate up about 30% of a 1.2 GHz Athlon cpu.
>> Flac->Wav is a relatively lightweight operation. In fact, most
>> decoding
>> is fairly lightweight compared to encoding. So, there's always .wav to
>> fall back on if you haven't got the grunt to encode to mp3.
>>
>>> Also, how can they say it is ideal for use as a firewall, when it
>> only
>>> has one ethernet connection?
>> One of the optional extras is a second ethernet connection.
>>
>> R.
>
> How did you do that nice quoting in blue?

I didn't do anything - it's either your mail reader or news reader or
the forum software, depending on how you're reading the msgs.

> I merely tried the flac->mp3 transcoding in order to test streaming to
> a remote location. As for a lan, you are obviously correct in that
> transcoding to .wav (for the formats the need transcoding) is the way
> to go, for several reasons.
>
> A second ethernet connection is indeed an option. I have no idea how I
> missed that. Thanks for pointing it out!
>
> While the MicroClient Jr. certainly looks cute, the cuteness will be
> somewhat compromised by the external disk needed for user as a
> Slimserver box, in my opinion. Looking at NorhTec's site, there are
> some other nice fanless machines there, that are also very modestly
> priced, and that have room for an internal disk.


They're not all that cheap, and mostly only have space for a 2.5" disk.

R.

blackbear
2006-08-27, 06:57
...
One of the optional extras is a second ethernet connection.

R.

This is slightly off-topic in a Slimserver context, but the supposed, optional second ethernet interface that was listed on the Norhtec site, turned out to an error that has since been corrected.