When Intel announced their new Atom processor architecture this April, they predicted that there would appear new class of devices called network computers (netbooks and nettops) and spread widely real fast. We are already very well familiar with the first type of devices like that: ASUS Eee PC is a typical example of a netbook solution. These solutions and similar thin and light notebooks with little computational power but long battery life turned out very demanded and quickly became very popular. Nettops haven’t yet invaded the market so aggressively. Nevertheless, these small, power-efficient, inexpensive personal computers intended primarily for work with different Internet-services look very promising.
Although they started talking about nettops only now, this is not a principally new concept. For the last few years VIA have been developing low-power processors and miniature platforms. The results of their engineering efforts are currently available under EPIA brand name. These solutions are the actual forefathers of the new economical platforms formation.
However, the situation has become favorable for nettops acceptance only now. That is why Intel started popularizing this concept aggressively. Most users no longer have to leave their browser while working on their computer thanks to increasing popularity of social networks, Internet applications and on-line gaming. This user group is simply perfect for nettop concept. Especially, since these solutions usually feature very “homey” design making them look more like a consumer electronics device, are very small and have quiet cooling system, which makes them fit even for living-room environment.
There are currently several platforms in the market that can be used for nettop systems. Of course, they include Intel Atom processors, namely Diamondville type, and several solutions from VIA Technologies that have been working on power-efficient platforms like that for a few years now. Today we are going to compare all contemporary hardware configurations for nettop systems from theoretical and practical standpoints. Besides we will also learn if today’s special power-efficient processors can offer better combination of power consumption and performance than the already existing solutions.