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" A T O M - S M A S H E R " Developing a l"Chubby Client"

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February 23, 2010 8:49:02 PM

RE: " A T O M - S M A S H E R " Developing a low cost "Chubby Client" System Unit.

Note: This is an purely academic exercize, Please tend to "the needy" before playing at this thread.


So, I have this back-burner configuration project which I invite "The Bold" to ponder, with me.

Pre-Discussion: As most of you know, a "new" classification of computer category has entered the workforce IT nomenclature .... The "Thin Client", which, it seems to me, is intended as a "smart terminal" for corporate network, mainframe, and cloud access, with (apparently) enough "juice" to perform basic office processing on whatever data/records are being accessed. I'm just kinda guessing this sort of system is used at reception and nursing stations, as a dBase data entry and reporting node or, in meetings (conference rooms), to access agendas and distribute memoranda, etc. Hey, I may not understand the meaning of "Thin Client" and feel feel to correct me or to elaborate on how such systems are "really used".
Regardless, . . . Advertisements for Thin Clients usually list the beefier ATOM chipset and sometimes this is augmented with ION graphics.

In the home, the equivilent system would be some sort of "Net Top" system, like an Acer Revo..

And, here is what you get for ~$330 USD~ :

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Of course, folks like us (Ardent Tom's Forum Members) can look at the REVO and we can see, that we can do a custom " IONized ATOM " build, and get much more functionality, in the way of * more ports * more peripheral connect options * more case-space for "internals" * more standard memory. I see that the "Wall Wart" PSUs and passive cooling really help to reduce overall system cost, when it comes to ATOM based systems. Score one for ATOM (quiet with low heat and power). Here is an example of just one ATOM-ION mobo combo .

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

BUT ! We can also see, that by the time (expense) that we have "beefed up" a typical ATOM/ION config, we are well on our way (cost-wise) to having built a budget gaming and HTPC type (real) computeing platform.

So WHY am I typing this long description and hoping to loop contributors into this discussion ?

TWO main reasons ... First, I do not know that much about what (exacatacally) has happenned with/to the ATOM architecture, since the (venerable?) ATOM330+ION ... I do know that "we" blew through ATOM 4xx and are up to ATOM 5xx ... I do not know of any changes to ION since the ATOM330s .... And ... Second(ly), I really don't know much of anything about "bottom feeding" CPUs and chipsets (Especially on the AMD side) ... I mean, I have had Core2Duo notebooks but even thos are much higher on the chain than ATOMs.

We all ("regulars" here) know we can build some sort of cheapest gaming rig for $550 or to buy some crappy bundle/value system from "Office-x" or DELL for the same bux .. but ... Where does the sharpest knife really "cut the Jell-O(TM)" in this "Lo-end Soup".

So here are some (proposed) criteria and "limits" for the scope of this discussion and the associated configs which might "fall out" of it.

1) We want something that presents a clear cost/performance advantage over an ATOM system.

2) While we should not completely ignore "smart" ATOM builds, I am assuming (until taught otherwise) that ATOM is not the best "bang for our buttox"

3) As a general guideline, I would like each percent increase in cost to yeild (at least) TWO percent increase in performance.

4) I do not even know what games can be played on this class but I imagine that WoW and some popular "shooters" should be able to run effectively/enjoyably/competitively.

5) It absolutely MUST do 1080p streaming from sites like Hulu, uToob. FoxOnDemand, etc.

6) Must be capable of hosting a Blu-Ray player as a full-HD theater player. I prefer a dedicated player but we should assume many will want this feature.

7) Respectable home office functions. Home banking, Tax-Prep, Sheets, WP, "MS OFFICE" ...
... So we are talking Full MM/OLE type environment.

8) Host Live-Presence Teleconferencing and Chat (Like Gmail with Webcam, Skype, ( H D ! )

9) Finally (as far as I am concerned) ASSUME we have a RoadRunner Home connect (4-6Mbits?) and that we want to have up to 8 browser tabs running while we listen to MP3s, like I am doing on my 3.2GHz P4/Northwood/3.2c(two hyper-threads), at this moment.

10) YOU tell us what you think such a system "must do" to satisfy yourself, you family, and the masses.

11) Oh, yeah ... should bee 100% passive cooling (including PSU) ... So, if you were to run on SSD, the optical drive would include the only moving parts (other than switches). I am just saying, as long as it is a fairly cheap route to go, "passive solid state" would be nice.

OK, I think the only other thing I should say, about the scope of discussion, is that think "we" should mostly focus on mobo/CPU kits and combos as peripherals are all "personally elective" and confuse cost/performance comparisons (that is important ... to me) ... That mem, and drives and all that junk has nothing to do with where mony can be saved or where performance may be gained, in this (crowded?) tier, (of computing power and utility/$$$)

Ok. That is about it (whew!) ... If this has already been discussed (just lately), include those thread-links ... same for any articles.

I am really interested w/regard to any benchmarks that might add clarity to $$$/performance

Again ... focus on mobos/cpu combos (plus cpu and PSU cooling) rather than options (think "GUTZ")

Feel free to comment ... say anything you want, I was just trying to limit to a useful scope.

= Alvin Smith =

More about : developing chubby client

February 24, 2010 3:31:37 PM

You're going to hate me for this, but I don't have time to do a full build right now. I would expect that you'd want to go i3, H55, and SSD, but I don't know enough about the H55 integrated graphics to say if it will play games (even WoW) at all. I would like to keep an eye on this thread and come back to it when I have some time.

And technically, thin client is old hat and it's just being recycled. Last time it rolled around the IT industry was in the late 90s, early 2000s. And of course, before that, the original thin clients were terminals that connected to remote servers back in the 60s & 70s.
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February 24, 2010 9:46:38 PM

Cold: Yeah, I remember the WYSE Smart Terminals (Floppy too ! )

Short Stuff: Thanks ... didn't expect any responses after watching this "gay" thread drop like a rock ... I had decided (early) not to bump it ...

What I like best about your solution is the socket! LOTS of room to grow, there.

Yeah, I should have just asked "How can I kick an ATOM/ION'S ass, without paying "that" much ??

Also, I see the CPU you suggested has GMA aboard, I'm guessing those articles might address the graphics but the question, at this point is :

And, How can I run rings around ION graphics while spending least poss $$$ ?

= Thanks ! =

PS: My Northwood P4(3.2c)HT with a 6800 O.C. is pretty snappy ... I'd love to see how it benchmarks against ATOM/ION .... Hmmmmm ?

February 25, 2010 8:39:48 PM

Now, here is an interesting thought (on topic) . . .
. . . I am typing this post on a . . .

* Socket 478 Northwood P4(3.2c) ... Last "pre-prescott" P4 iteration
* 2GB DDR400(PC3200)x2CH (two open mem slots)
* BFG/nVidia 7600GS AGP8X 512MB (Fact. O.C.)
* 70GB Raptor SATA-I Boot & Apps (60% full) + 300GB 7200 RPM Seagate SATA-I
* SIGMA 3x Firewire Card * Creative Extigy * Plextor DVD-R
* LG5250 52" 120Hz 1080P LCD HDTV * Viewsonic 22" (2ms) 1080P LCD HDTV
* KRK ROKit RP8+S10 Powered 2.1 Studio Monitors (thru Mackie Mixer)
* Mobo is an MSI / INTEL ICHxR O.C. currently running at "stock-clock".
* CoolerMaster Cooler (manual variable knob) * New 600W PSU.
* Currently "sucking air" with a Cricket 3G/USB2.0 "connection" (hate att & tw!)
* Currently Running XP-Pro/SP3 + all rollouts and updates to date.

. . . I have a $300 Budget (what an ATOM/ION sys unit costs) . . .

. . . Could this (my P4) system smash an ATOM/ION ? (any ATOM/ION ?) ? . . .

This is a Dual Thread (HT) single core, running at 3.2 GHz .. That ain't awful.
The GPU is no slouch but IDK if it is anywhere near suturating AGP8X BUS.

But .. lookie here ...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

There are a few ways to go, to make the most of what I have ... I really do not know how much to spend but another 2GB DDR2-400(PC3200) is a "no brainer". . .

So I will have the max 4GB Total (tho XP 32-bit only can see 3.2GB(+?) ...

I am wondering a few things, which I will need to (have) answer(ed) before I can move on, but with your help, I can answer these (and more) questions and explore the various costs and contingincies.

Right now ...

1) Should I go with my (listed above) legacy MSI/PCI mobo or step up to PCIe ?

2) Is my older DDR2 PC3200 compatible w/the new BioStar mobo ?

3) Is my current GPU capable of (or "is it") saturating my AGP bus?

4) Is my current AGP slot 4X ? . . . 8X ? . . . or AGP-Pro ??? I don't even know the exact mobo model ... I did get into sys-info/dev-mngr but the "properties" of the interface were "chineese" to me and I could not tell anything about the bandwidth.
... I CAN tell you that the CARD is a 4X/8X card. I could not find any diags or tests in the nVidia ctrl-panel ... all I see is "device is working properly".
... There are newer Ati AGP cards with 1GB DDR3 available from $84 to $124 but I would need to know that there would be a significant advantage. A PCIe card (lo-end) would surely be much sweeter and better for 1080PHD, and my DV-25(SD) editing backlog.

5) Atom supports 64bit ... my P4 does not. Wondering what that really means as far as compatibility and perceptable computing experience.

6) Will Win7-Pro32 run on my old or "new" mobo/cpu and will drivers be @ issue?
... asking because Intel is "bailing" on XP in July and won't be doing security updates ... at least, that's what I understand from what I've read. True? How would XP users protect themselves from the Bot-o-the-Month ?

... That's enough, for now.

I welcome any further comments, suggestions, opinions. Otherwise, I'll just sit in the dark.

= thanks =

!