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Cisco Moderro IEC/IEP-4650/4660 series managed smart displays

Work in progress, but will describe the IEC4650 and 4660 machines in detail...
Note: the IEC4610/4632 machines are too old to be worthy of consideration.

Welcome to the short and succinct guide to the Cisco/Moderro IEC/IEP 4650/4660 series of managed smart displays

So why should you care (as a home labber)?


It's a small-ish thin client, roughly 185mm W x 188mm H x 48 mm D , ~1.66 Liters.
The IEP-4650 was released in Q1 2015, general availability in Q4 2015.
The IEP-4660 was released in Q2 2018, general availability in Q3 2018.

Both machines are low wattage, passively cooled thin-client/interactive display boxes that packs either a 15w/Ultrabook class Broadwell i3 (4650) or a Kaby Lake i3 (4660) along with RAM, M2 storage and an Intel i210/i217 network controller into a metallic enclosure.

How much CPU and GPU firepower can I expect from one?

For the 4650:
The i3-5010U has a CPU configuration of 2 cores, 2 threads on a 14nm lithography process. The performance is comparable to the i5-4250U used in the 2013 Macbook Air 11"

For the 4660:
The i3-7100U has a CPU configuration of 2 cores, 2 threads on a 14nm lithography process. The performance is comparable to the AMD FX7600p/RX427BB on the t730 thin client.

TDP for both is at a very respectable 15w.

As for the GPU prowess -
The i3-5010U on the 4650 uses the Broadwell GT2 (HD Graphics 5500) which supports hardware decode for HEVC, VP8 and VP9. The GPU is around 60-70% the performance of the Vega 3 found on AMD Ryzen+ APUs.

The i3-7100U on the 4650 uses the Kaby Lake GT2 (HD Graphics 620) which supports hardware decode and decode for HEVC, VP8 and VP9. Performance is roughly 80-90% of the Vega 3 found on AMD Ryzen+ APUs.

As for RAM -

Base configuration as shipped on the 4650 is 4GB of RAM in a single DDR3 SODIMM, 2 slots available for up to 32GB of RAM max (16GB being economical limit)

Base configuration as shipped on the 4660 s 4GB of RAM in a single DDR4 SODIMM, 2 slots available for up to 64GB of RAM max (64GB being economical limit)

Base OS is Cisco Moderro's IEP Linux, which is a version of Ubuntu 16.04LTS. Wipe it. it's useless for homelabbers.

What’s my path to expandability?

On the Cisco IEC/IEP4650:

• 2 DDR3 SODIMM/Notebook RAM slots - officially supporting up 32 GB via a pair of 16GB DDR3 SODIMMs.

• 1 M.2 slot -
- Key B+M (SATA or NVMe - note: will not boot Sandisk Mothim SD7 cards like the HP x40 thin clients), limited to M.2 2260 (won't take 2280 cards)

• 2 miniPCIe slots -
- Small one on top, larger one on the bottom. The default on top holds an Azurewave 802.11ac+BT4 adapter

• 4 USB3 ports - 2 in the back, 2 on the right.
• 1 USB2 port on the starscream USB breakout board up front.

On the Moderro IEC/IEP4660:

• 2 DDR4 SODIMM Notebook RAM slots - officially supporting up 32 GB via a pair of 16GB DDR4 DIMMs, but 64GB (via a pair of 32GB SODIMMs) should also work.

• 1 M.2 slot -
- Key B+M (SATA or NVMe - note: will not boot Sandisk Mothim SD7 cards like the HP x40 thin clients), limited to M.2 2260 (won't take 2280 cards)

• 4 USB3 ports - 2 in the back, 2 on the right.
• 1 USB2 port on the starscream USB breakout board up front.

Upgrade Compatibility amongst the line
  • RAM: Nope
  • M.2 (SATA+NVMe): Works fine
  • MiniPCIe: the 4660 does not have MiniPCIe or M.2 slot for the wireless option. It looks like the IEC4660W machines have a soldered down LGA1216 Wireless NIC.
Is there a guide to working inside the chassis?

Check the article

OS Compatibility

The following bas been tested and known to work:


Windows 10 IoT/Pro
Debian Linux 10
VMWare ESXi 7.0 U1

What's a fair price for one?

As of Q2 2021, about 60-80 for a 4650, and around 80 to 125 fo a 4660.

Advantages
  • More performant than the t630 or t730, and good as an ultra-low hypervisor (17w max)
  • Silent with no moving parts, and very heat resilient
  • M.2 SATA/NVMe upgradeability
  • 2 MiniPCIe slots on the 4660.
  • Came be made to consume parts pulled from EOL laptops
  • Both models uses the Intel i211/217 NICs, which are supported by VMWare ESXi 7.
Disadvantages

• No IPMI, and no VPro
• No PCIe slot (so it preludes quite a number of usess)
• Kaby Lake i3 is somewhat limited in terms of performance.

So, what can I do with it?

- Run a “more powerful” firewall (on the 4650, as long as it’s gigabit and only require 2 ports, or if you like the idea of USB3 based NICs).
There are USB 3.1 Gen2 ports for nBaseT networking, but that’s rather expensive.

- Low-medium performance expandable hypervisor.

Yeah, it’s more powerful than the RX427BB of the outgoing t730, and SVM/RVI/AMDV-i is enabled. As long as you are comfortable with only 2 GigE ports in total, you could in theory load up a few VMs (with 32 to 64GB of RAM) and do some useful stuff with it. That being said, one M.2 NVMe card and potential Gigabit iSCSI is not your avenue to mind-blowing performance.

- Use it as an HTPC or as a living room PC.

It's very slightly smaller than the 2019 Mac mini, but on the 4650 you get expandable RAM (2 DDR4 SODIMM slots), storage (a single m.2 slot) and Gigabit fiber/wireless+bluetooh connectivity. It can play h264/h265/VP9 and any older format just fine.

- You can do some light gaming on it.
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