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MicroPC article, any comments?

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October 10, 2002 1:24:18 AM

I was simply astonished at how small it was. At first it simply looked fake, I couldn't beleive something more than half the width of my case could feature a high performance P4 system. Then they proved it was, with how you can simply carry it like a book.

Of course it was pretty obvious the P4 was chosen, even inside that, the temps must really be high, there's so little airflow space.
The results were rather low, I wonder how a 2.4 could suck against a 1.5GHZ Willy in even non-graphic intensive programs!
Then again if the possibility to use a Radeon 9700 Pro in the near future, comes for real, then I can just imagine how good that is. Only problem is the price. At 2000$, ouch.

Comments?

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October 10, 2002 1:42:25 AM

The integrated Sis graphics really hurt it. One day, Intel or AMD has to strike a deal for a decent integrated graphics for a micro pc.

Soon enough, Intel will make the i845s...imagine dual channel Sdram...*shudder*
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October 10, 2002 2:31:23 AM

My concern is temperature wise, is it going to stand the test of time. Ryan






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October 10, 2002 4:44:06 AM

Seriously make it one inch bigger and put a regular HD in that sucker. I understand why Laptops have small HDs but not something that doesn't have power requirements.

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October 10, 2002 4:50:42 AM

Kinda cool if the graphics were better. Imagine tucking your computer away (not an underpowered laptop) in your suitcase when travelling. Carrying your 21" monitor would be a pain though.

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October 10, 2002 10:07:23 AM

I fail to see what such a machine is good for.. Sure, you can carry it around, but each time you have to connect keyboard, mous, vga, lan, sound,... I'd much rather have a normal laptop then. And if I need the power of a desktop pc that I can take with me, I'd get a Shuttle with a decent AGP card. Weird box, this MicroPC.. now if they where to make an nForce2 based MicroPC, or even better, something with a decent AGP card, then I'd be interested (LAN parties !!)

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October 10, 2002 11:46:10 AM

Well they said they will include better graphics later.
About the transportation. Think about when you'd take your comp to the PC shop for repair, IF you do so, now that is often a hassle to carry over there. That PC can be taken and whoopty-do it's in your hands and theirs just like that, and can easily be connected anyways. It has more features than my huge case and mobo anyway!
And the 512MB is a major friendly thing, I really liked that.

I was thinking, since they are preparing LCD monitors that can fold as small as a pen, and be carried like this, who knows how the future may be for transportation or ease of use of comps?
They're slowly merging laptop and desktop.

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October 10, 2002 3:44:27 PM

>Think about when you'd take your comp to the PC shop for
>repair, IF you do so

IF indeed.. I've been working with computers since hmm.. 15 years or so, and I can only remember ONCE bringing a PC back to the shop, and that was a notebook btw..


>since they are preparing LCD monitors that can fold as
>small as a pen, and be carried like this, who knows how
>the future may be for transportation or ease of use of
>comps?

Hmm.. add a display, and you have a tablet PC.. and a keyboard, and you have a notebook. Add both to the mini pc reviewed here, and it makes me thing of an OLD 386 Toshiba "portable" computer with built-in monochrome CRT, and a detachable keyboard. NOthing new.. just a tad faster :-)

>They're slowly merging laptop and desktop.

Are they ? I see the exact opposite trend; PCs become more and more power hungry, big, heavy, hot.. and notebooks get their own specific hardisks, chipsets, even cpu's (think Banias, Crusoe, ..). What do I see, is a new market inbetween them. Think modded Xbox-s or PS2/3s, tablets, Mini-Shuttle PCs with wireless keyboards,.. computers you dont put on your desk, but that you can use in your living room. its not a "merger", its a new product family.

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October 10, 2002 4:11:17 PM

Honestly, I just don't get the obsession THG is having with miniature PCs. If making a perfectly good P4 2.4GHz perform like a P4 1.5GHz is the price of miniaturization, they can go fly a kite for all I care. And hell if I'm going to pay that much such a bad performance system at that, especially for one with almost nil upgradability.

Even a laptop is more upgradable than that, performs the same if not better, and has a battery to make it more portable!

What a bloody stupid concept that thing was!

I liked the shiny finish though. I'm not sure why anyone would even want a matt finish on such a cute little box. Maybe next they'd ask for it to be painted beige! :-p

I'm seriously beginning to think that some of the writers at THG just have absolutely no taste. Heh heh heh. ;) 

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October 10, 2002 4:12:58 PM

Quote:
The integrated Sis graphics really hurt it. One day, Intel or AMD has to strike a deal for a decent integrated graphics for a micro pc.

I'm kind of surprised that nVidia hasn't carried AMD into this market already. nVidia has really been short on integrated motherboard innovations lately. It's kind of sad.

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October 10, 2002 4:15:21 PM

Quote:
Seriously make it one inch bigger and put a regular HD in that sucker. I understand why Laptops have small HDs but not something that doesn't have power requirements.

I think the reason for a 2.5" drive wasn't so much for size or power as it was for portability. The laptop drives are a <b>lot</b> more forgiving of being jostled, bumped, and dropped. And with a little bugger like that, you can imagine it's going to suffer those kinds of experiences in the typical home. ... If it ever catches on.

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October 10, 2002 4:18:33 PM

Quote:
I was thinking, since they are preparing LCD monitors that can fold as small as a pen, and be carried like this, who knows how the future may be for transportation or ease of use of comps?
They're slowly merging laptop and desktop.

Personally, I'd <b>much</b> rather see a merging of PDA and laptop into a device more the size of a PDA than that of a laptop. I guess you could call it aiming for a micro-tablet PC. Heh heh.

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October 10, 2002 4:21:01 PM

Quote:
I see the exact opposite trend; PCs become more and more power hungry, big, heavy, hot.. and notebooks get their own specific hardisks, chipsets, even cpu's (think Banias, Crusoe, ..). What do I see, is a new market inbetween them. Think modded Xbox-s or PS2/3s, tablets, Mini-Shuttle PCs with wireless keyboards,.. computers you dont put on your desk, but that you can use in your living room. its not a "merger", its a new product family.

I agree. Ultimately, just an extension of the 'internet appliance' crossed with a game console.

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October 11, 2002 5:27:36 AM

I bring them home all the time-the shop I subcontract for doesn't do in-home repairs, I get whatever they can't fix.

They do on-site for businesses, but more than half their customers are home users.

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October 11, 2002 5:29:54 AM

All it is is an ever so slightly smaller version of the normal book-sized PC. But the normal book-sized PC has a full size hard drive.

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October 11, 2002 1:33:13 PM

Quote:
I'm kind of surprised that nVidia hasn't carried AMD into this market already. nVidia has really been short on integrated motherboard innovations lately. It's kind of sad.

What we really need isn't these crappy Geforce2 :frown: clones being spawned into the Nforce. It would have much greater potential if you could get a Geforce3 build in, or some other decent DirectX 8.x compliant chipset, and have the core and memory scale for pricing. Say, a cheapie version like an Nforce 220d replacing a Geforce2 Mx400 build in with a Geforce3 ti100 at like 175Mhz/300Mhz DDR, and a higher end version at higher clock speeds or integrating Geforce4 technology. Or even better, a build in with an Nv30 :cool: . What surprises me more is Ati only went as far as integrating a Radeon VE, which barely kept up with a Geforce2mx. They really have a lot more potential in the market. I myself would like to see the Radeon IGP320 grow to a better solution.

Soon enough, Intel will make the i845s...imagine dual channel Sdram...*shudder*
October 11, 2002 2:47:42 PM

I'm with you Quetzacoatl. We really need something with a bit more kick in an nForce.

I'm guessing that the problem is memory bandwidth though. I mean what's the point of a decent GPU when you have such slow RAM to use? So then to get decent performance, we'd need like 64MB of 3.3ns chips embedded directly onto the mobo, which would raise price.

And then you bring up the whole question of why even pay for an integrated memory solution when you could just have bought an AGP card. Heh heh.

So I'm not sure what a good solution from nVidia would be, but there should be an nForce mobo that will at least give us DX8+ compatability.

Of course, I'm still of the mind that nVidia (or someone!)should be making a GPU socket on the mobo much like the CPU socket. Then you get so much more flexability than an AGP slot because you can have GPU voltage regulators just like the CPU has. And better yet, your GPU is physically located much closer so you could in theory put in something like a Hyper Transport mechanism directly between the CPU and the GPU (or maybe route it through the northbridge still).

I'd see it as basically turning the GPU into a secondary processor instead of just an expansion card. It would be kind of like how we've heard rumor of AMD using a dualie system with one AXP and one Hammer, only it would be a GPU and a CPU. I think it'd make the system a lot more interesting anyway.

The socket would probably have to have integrated RAM on it, maybe like the old Slot-based processors. Though I would more hope that instead of that, it could actually end up with the integration of an L3 cache. The L3 would be primarily be for the GPU of course (since normal RAM is way too slow), but really it could be used by either the CPU or the GPU just as readily.

I think the idea system would be to have the GPU and CPU work in concert like in a dualie system instead of through an AGP bus. There would be a seperate memory controller for each 'processor' involved, and each memory controller would have it's own dedicated L3 cache. Since the GPU wouldn't need much RAM (128MB is the current max?) then a 256MB L3 cache for each controller would allow the GPU's memory interfacing to exist only at the L3 level, since the GPU would never need to access more than the size of the L3, and thus never have to write to and read from the main system memory.

Of course, I'm also probably insane. But it honestly surprises me that I haven't seen any innovations like this in the graphics market yet to shift people from thinking of the graphics system as a specialized processor instead of just another expansion card.

Of course, I'm also surprised that a specialized processor that combines 3D sound and 3D graphics in the same processing system hasn't been invented yet. I mean imagine how easy it would be then to have the 3D sound model based on the visual rendering of the 3D scene. It'd be like almost completely resource-free processing of 3D sound since the 3D visual processing could do most of the work.

But hey, then again I'm still surprised that with the ever-decreasing cost of fiber-optics and the availability of fiber-optics in both LAN and storage controllers and cables, that motherboards haven't started using optical chanels directly in the PCB to cut down on problems like signal noise.

So maybe I'm just nuts.

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October 11, 2002 4:14:58 PM

Quote:
I'm guessing that the problem is memory bandwidth though. I mean what's the point of a decent GPU when you have such slow RAM to use? So then to get decent performance, we'd need like 64MB of 3.3ns chips embedded directly onto the mobo, which would raise price.

Using the Nforce as an example, 2 64-bit DDR channels merged into a single 128-bit channel, would that provide adequate memory bandwidth and latency as compared to onboard memory? I'm still confused as to why Nvidia limited the frequency of the Nforce Geforce to the Mx400 level of 1500Mb/s (Pc-190 roughly standard, right?) at 6x AGP? Kinda goofy setting. I think it would be better ran synchronously with Dual Channel DDR at like 4200Mb/s at Pc-400 at AGP 8x standard. Better yet, upgrade it to Dual Channel DDR Pc-333 at 5400Mb/s. That's approaching a Ti200 specifications for memory.

Quote:
Of course, I'm still of the mind that nVidia (or someone!)should be making a GPU socket on the mobo much like the CPU socket. Then you get so much more flexability than an AGP slot because you can have GPU voltage regulators just like the CPU has. And better yet, your GPU is physically located much closer so you could in theory put in something like a Hyper Transport mechanism directly between the CPU and the GPU (or maybe route it through the northbridge still).

I kinda lost you on this concept...it would seem to me it's approaching the point where the cost efficiency is just too low for it to have any real advantages of an AGP video card. Sure it would be a heck of a lot faster, but at what price? As well as compatability problems, memory issues, and power requirements.

Quote:
I think the idea system would be to have the GPU and CPU work in concert like in a dualie system instead of through an AGP bus. There would be a seperate memory controller for each 'processor' involved, and each memory controller would have it's own dedicated L3 cache. Since the GPU wouldn't need much RAM (128MB is the current max?) then a 256MB L3 cache for each controller would allow the GPU's memory interfacing to exist only at the L3 level, since the GPU would never need to access more than the size of the L3, and thus never have to write to and read from the main system memory.

This is really confusing...alright, so you want a dedicated memory bus JUST for the video card/controller? Please explain, you lost me completely here.

Soon enough, Intel will make the i845s...imagine dual channel Sdram...*shudder*
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