Monday, October 15, 2007

Computer Mobility For Fixed, And/Or Rolling, Assets

The Fit-PC is a fully self-contained PC, complete with hard drive, that’s less than five inches square. Image Credit: ExtremeTech

Computer Mobility For Fixed, And/Or Rolling, Assets

Embedded computer power becomes inexpensive, small, and packaged for inclusion in any data capture, communication, security, and computer processing application.

An Israel based company, CompuLab, has come up with a better computer mousetrap. Named the “fit-PC”, this computer can be made to fit nearly anywhere because it is not only small in size, it only requires 3.5 watts of total power to operate.

The fit-PC offers two USB 2.0 ports, dual fast Ethernet (10/100) ports, a VGA connector, audio jacks, and an RJ-11 jack. The RJ-11 jack isn't a modem, but subs in as a dumbed-down RS-232 port. Two audio jacks are also built in. Image Credit: ExtremeTech

This excerpted and edited from ExtremeTech –

Fit PC—A Tiny Linux PC that Fits Anywhere
By Loyd Case – ExtremeTech – October 12, 2007

Fit-PC is the brainchild of the Israeli company CompuLab, a manufacturer of embedded, low power systems. In fact, if you check out CompuLab's web site, you'll find the ENC-iGLX, which is essentially the fit-PC without the operating system.

Although the fit-PC web site mentions that it's shipped with Gentoo Linux, the system arrived on our doorstep with Ubuntu Feisty Fawn (7.04) installed. You can also download Windows XP drivers from the fit-PC web site, but you'll need to install Windows yourself.
The Fit-PC includes a 2.5-inch, 40GB hard drive. Image Credit: ExtremeTech

The CPU used in the fit-PC is an AMD Geode LX800, which is a fully self-contained System-on-a-Chip (SoC). The memory controller, graphics processor, and I/O are all self-contained inside the LX800, which clocks at 500MHz. The entire system, including hard drive and 256MB of main memory, uses 3-5W of total power. The built-in graphics can drive displays up to 1920x1440, but it's noticeably more responsive at 1280x1024 or less.

Since it's so tiny, it can fit into a myriad of locations that even a mini-ITX system wouldn't work. Of course, a display, keyboard and mouse take up room, but you can always control it via a network connection once you get it set up. The fit-PC is also useful as a small dedicated box. Since it has two Ethernet ports, it can be used as a Linux-based firewall or router.

Alternatively, it can be used as a shared web browsing and email station where space is at a premium.

The fit-PC in Action

We connected the fit-PC to a 17-inch LCD display, attached a USB keyboard and mouse, piped in Ethernet, and fired it up. After logging in, we were greeted with the main Ubuntu screen, and prompted to download and install 122MB of updates.

Since this tiny system is based on a 500MHz SoC, we didn't bother with running any standard benchmarks—it would just make the system look bad. The point of the fit-PC is not to be blazingly fast, but to do one or two things well enough to be usable.

We fired up Firefox and spent some time browsing the web. Some Flash-intensive web sites rendered slowly, but most web browsing seemed no worse than running on an older laptop with integrated graphics. We also loaded up OpenOffice apps to check them out. After we had six windows (and six apps) running, the system definitely became sluggish—this is not a strong multitasking system.

Final Thoughts: A Good Fit?

If you need anything that requires even moderately demanding CPU or graphics horsepower, the fit-PC isn't the right solution. Performance is not the point of this system—form factor and cost are the main factors.

The fit-PC is priced at $285, which includes the hard drive and pre-loaded Linux OS. While you can build a PC that's nearly as inexpensive, or buy a used laptop for not much more, the fit-PC's unique form factor gives it an edge in any environment where space is at a premium.

Also, its extremely low power usage means you can keep the system running all the time. In any application that requires always-on usage and a light duty applications mix, the fit-PC may indeed be an ideal fit.
Reference Here>>

For dedicated business applications (warehousing, access control & biometrics, RFID, route accounting, and etc.) that require some computing power and programs to run, this small (25 square inches), power thrifty (3.5 watts) handles up to be a tidy, embedded package.

No comments: