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Saturday·26·July·2008

MicroClient Sr. //at 01:16 //by abe

from the *WANT* dept.

About a year ago, I bought a Norhtec MicroClient Jr., a complete 200 MHz MMX-compatible SoC (“Vortex86”) PC so small that it fits into your hand or onto VESA mountings. Althought thought as thin client, the machine has 128 MB RAM and runs Debian from either netboot, USB stick, CF card or 2.5” harddisk without problems and not even that slow.

Later last year, we needed more MicroClient Jrs. at work and since the MicroClient JrSX had a 300 MHz 486SX-compatible SoC processor (“Vortex86SX”) from MSTi and 128 MB DDR RAM instead of SD RAM, we expected them at least in the same performance range and bought a few for ETH and I also bought one for myself. Well, they were about three times slower, since the FPU is missing, not all programs from Debian Etch work fine, e.g. X doesn’t work without patching and recompiling (with Sid, X works, but not the kernel anymore – Update, 26-Jul-2008: See #454776 for a solution for this problem)…

BTW: I had both machines with me at FOSDEM ‘08 at the Debian booth and the MMX-compatible machine also at Chemnitzer Linux-Tage (CLT) at the Symlink booth and in Kurt Gramlich’s talk about ecological computers. So if you saw them there, just imagine the same case, with a twice to three times faster CPU and four times the amount of RAM, but with roughly the same carbon foot-print!

For our thin client purposes at work we now use ALIX boards from PC Engines (Mini-ITX format) with 500 MHz AMD Geode processors. They’re much faster than the MicroClient Jr. and need even less power.

Today, while surfing around on some Mini-ITX shops, I found some computer in obviously MicroClient Jr. case, but with 500 MHz VIA Eden processor and 512 MB of RAM. I first couldn’t believe it. They are selling it as eTC-2500. Since eTC-2300 was one of the brandings of the MicroClient Jr. which is called eBox-2300 officially by the manufacturer DM&P, I searched for eBox-2500, but didn’t find anything useful. Then I looked at the manufacturer’s product page at CompactPC.com.tw and found the eBox-4300 — so it’s really true, they managed to fit a board with 500 MHz VIA processor and half a Gig of RAM into the already fscking small space inside the MicroClient Jr. case, and even without needing more power: Still 15W from the power adaptor. Next stop was Norhtec’s Website. And yes, they also have a new MicroClient product: The MicroClient Sr.. I really need to have one of those for my MicroClient collection! ;-)

Comments

Re: MicroClient Sr.

Posted by: Thomas
Website: 
Time: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 11:28

Please write a short review if you get one... Sounds interesting!

Reply

Re: MicroClient Sr.

Posted by: Michael C Barnes
Website: http://www.norhtec.com/
Time: Wed, 16 Apr 2008 07:55

I read your post. I wanted to provide some additional information. NorhTec works with DMP, which provides boards and sometimes systems to us. Our focus it is to integrate these boards into more complex solutions. We recently built rack mounts for the Jr/Sr. We have also built kiosks around these form factors and in some cases, we build our own cases and integrate the systems with battery operated power suppliers.

The Jr is based on the Vortex86 which is also known as the SiS550. This CPU has been around for several years. Despite its age, it has been quite unique as it is one of the very few Systems on Chip (SOC) available. Most solutions available are two or three chip solutions.

Later this year, DMP will release an upgraded version of the Vortex86SX that will incorporate floating point. The speed of the CPU will be increased by more than 3 times. The process will be based on 90 nanometer process. The new Vortex86DX will be a System on Chip for headless (no graphics) solutions. A graphics chip will be required for thin clients.

Our expectation is that this new CPU will be the ideal thin client platform.

I have often talked about the sweet spot for low cost / energy efficient computers as being $100.00, 1 watt and 1 Ghz. Today, we are half way there -- $200, 500 Mhz and 2 watts.

Reply

Re: MicroClient Sr.

Posted by: james
Website: http://keno-game.freehost.lt/
Time: Sat, 03 May 2008 12:58

Cooks' Cottage (also known as Captain Cook's Cottage) is located in the Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne, Australia. The cottage was constructed in 1755 in the English village of Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, by the parents of Captain James Cook, James and Grace Cook. It is a point of conjecture among historians whether James Cook, the famous navigator, ever lived in the house, but almost certainly he visited his parents at the house. keno game

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This is the blog or weblog of Axel Stefan Beckert (aka abe or XTaran) who thought, he would never start blogging... (He also once thought, that there is no reason to switch to this new ugly Netscape thing because Mosaïc works fine. That was about 1996.) Well, times change...

He was born 1975 at Villingen-Schwenningen, made his Abitur at Schwäbisch Hall, studied Computer Science with minor Biology at University of Saarland at Saarbrücken (Germany) and now lives in Zürich (Switzerland), working at the Network Security Group (NSG) of the Central IT Services (Informatikdienste) at ETH Zurich.

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