back to article Shuttle X27D

We had something of a downer on the Intel Atom 230 as the single-core 1.6GHz processor could barely pull the skin off a rice pudding. Our verdict was that "you can build an incredibly small and cheap PC around the D945GCLF mobo, but the Atom CPU is a severe disappointment on the desktop as it doesn’t have the grunt to do any …

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But Intel does not want this at all

But surely Intel does not want to encourage this sort of things at all, I suspect, and loves to find ways to keep Atom in its place. SCCs sell well as toys or gimmicks, but Intel would much rather see the people buying into its mid range processors. Seeing Atom processors cannabalise its midrange market gotta sting a little.

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So close...

Replace the 945 with G45 and they'll get a truckload of sales methinks. This thing would be nigh-on perfect as a media centre - pretty cheap to equip, very small, very quiet, low power. For those of us with plenty of other opportunities for network-attached storage, there's little more to ask for.

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Erm...

"..as most models use regular desktop parts. The tiny X27D chassis only measures 250 x 185 x 70mm and uses a laptop hard drive and optical drive.."

That'll be a regular desktop laptop hard drive then..

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Erm...

> the CPUs were only loaded to 50 per cent but playback was still jerky, presumably thanks to the Intel graphics

Being as it has that dual core processor that'll be one core at 100% then?

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How about?

Would anyone use this as a tiny Linux server or Linux NAS? If it really is nearly silent it could sit on the desk without disturbing you. Or is that pointless because it would end up costing a fortune?

@Gareth: yeah that'd be them :)

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@Gareth

Most models of Shuttle barebones use regular desktop parts. The X27 is smaller than XPC and uses a laptop hard drive instead of a desktop hard drive

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the reason it couldn't handle 720p playback...

The reason the "CPUs were loaded to 50 per cent but playback was still jerky" isn't the intel graphics. It's cos Quicktime is single-threaded for playback, and the OS is constantly switching between the two cores. If you changed the process affinity, you'd see it climb to 100% on a single core.

So you're still CPU limited for 720p playback in this particular case.

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Jon

HD video playback

> the CPUs were only loaded to 50 per cent but playback was still jerky

Oh, the joys of benchmarking multicore systems. 50% of one core? or 50% of 4 HT virtual CPUs? or 50% of 2 cores (with HT turned off)? If the latter, then this probably means you have a normal ("old-fashioned") single-threaded video decoder (which can only use 1 core), and the CPU was the bottleneck.

I'm not saying you're wrong to blame the graphics chip though - a better graphics chip would do more of the work, which means less work for the CPU to do. And special-purpose hardware in the GPU can decode video much more power-efficiently than a software decoder running on an x86.

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QuickTime 7.5.5 and CPU load

I had Task Manager running in Vista and saw all four virtual cores working away at about 50 percent while I was watching a 720p trailer on the Apple QuickTime trailer website

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Linux

I'm confused...

"but the Atom CPU is a severe disappointment on the desktop as it doesn’t have the grunt to do any useful work".

Hmm, I've got an Atom-powered netbook (single core) and I've successfully managed to use it for word processing, some spreadsheeting and presentations, internet browsing, instant messaging, played a good few MP3 albums and some MP4 encoded tv.

All of these worked fine, so I'm wondering what other tasks are qualified as the 'useful work' that the diddy single-core Atom is too weedy for? Okay, my Atom is running Linux (hence the icon) rather than that silicon pig Vista, but even so surely it shouldn't make that much difference...

Biggest objection I've got against the Shuttle is that Tranquil PC do (imho) better looking systems for just about the same money.

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did you try ht off?

Did you try disabling HT in the bios as I've heard this can help single threaded apps, this might make 720p work.

Also maybe XP instead of vista and vlc for playback?

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Boffin

CPU comparison graphs

Minor point: the Intel T2600 is actually a Core Duo, not a Core 2 Duo. Does make for a nice quiet desktop, though.

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@Robert - Linux vss. Vista

You've got it in one - if you run Linux then a single core Atom is fine but Windows Vista requires dual core for true loveliness. It's the reason that netbooks come with the choice of Linux or XP but not Vista.

I'm not suggesting that Vista is essential and I run XP on my personal PC (Tautology?) but anyone buying a shrink wrap OS for a new PC build is likely to buy Vissta

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Re: How about?

"Would anyone use this as a tiny Linux server or Linux NAS?"

I certainly would.

However, I could probably roll my own for a lot less than what Shuttle charge ...

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The Atom ...

all the disadvantages of x86 + all the disadvantages of in-order execution...

The only really great thing about it is its power consumption allowing really long life on devices like Eees. This ain't bad, it's pretty darn good but I would have preferred my Eee running a powerpc derivative of similar nick.

Apart from that if you expect any decent performance out of it, my God, even the instruction set is against you.

Would that the powers that be would junk x86 in all its guises .... and give us some other alternative.

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Anonymous Coward

4 cores at 50%?

4 cores at 50% still means you're cpu limited though, not graphics limited.

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Silver badge

That's a awful lot of money for little power...

Aimed at Apple clients maybe?

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The cube rocked!

" Hmm, where have we seen that before?"

The difference being the G4 cube is absolutely gorgeous, a work of modern art and at the time of release it was actually quite powerful. This on the other hand is ugly and seriously underpowered in comparison.

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And Apple buyers are Mactards?

Looking at one of Shuttle's resellers in the UK (Ambros Direct), they offer a Shuttle X27D Base Spec (1GB of DDR2 and a 160GB SATA2 drive) for GBP 449.50 (incl. VAT and delivery). For a whole 50p more, Apple will deliver a Mac Mini with a 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo instead of that wimpy Atom.

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Boffin

Some Other Alternative? But of course!

@ storng.bare.durid: "Would that the powers that be would junk x86 in all its guises .... and give us some other alternative."

Um, we were headed that way once upon a time. But Someone... Killed... It... ALl... D-E-A-D...

With the Motorola 68XXX processor and the custom-built "blitter" chip that to this day Intel is apparently unable or unwilling to reproduce on its own, the old multi-tasking o/s-equipped Amiga Personal Computer series R-O-C-K-E-D the world. (Remember?)

To this day, I dearly wish I had kept mine. Even though at 14 screaming MHz clock, the A500 is a slug by today's gigahertz-driven Intel standard. But you want cool operation? Then build it to be EFFICIENT!

I do miss both my original A1000 and the A500 that superseded it. I was only able to keep the video monitor as things sorted out. (It still works just fine; I still use it on the VCR/DVD test/repair bench.)

Sidebar: Yes, I still salvage, repair and re-home my made-serviceable VCRs. So deride me if needs be; my Old School viddy-buff friends just love it. (Not much cash there, but a GREAT bartering-chip, that.)

So bring back the Blitter Chip - and start doing Block Memory Transfers to the video display hardware all over again! Heck, with a blitter-chip on board one can blap entire screen-fulls of graphic content straight into one's face all at one gulp - at a full video frame per two or three clock cycles max - again! The x86 "chipset" is truly *incomplete* without it imho.

Commodore f***ed the Amiga right up. Intel did the rest and swore he Nevver Done Nuthin'.

Murderers.

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