Lowest (idle) power x86 possible (<10 Watts AC ideal)?

Discussion in 'Processors and Motherboards' started by matt_garman, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. matt_garman

    matt_garman Active Member

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    I'm looking for the absolute least power x86-based cpu + motherboard to use as a firewall/gateway/nas server. Also needs to be a standard format (mini-ITX or micro ATX) to go in a rackmount enclosure.

    Right now I'm using a PCEngines Alix2d3 for this purpose. CPU is a 500 MHz AMD Geode LX800. I've measured this thing with my Kill-a-Watt, and it pulls about 5 Watts from the wall.

    While it works wonderfully, I'd like a little bit more capability. For one, it uses its own proprietary format; I'd prefer to have this in a rackmount chassis. Second, the only "hard drives" I can use are CompactFlash cards, via the built-in CF adapter; I'd like to have a SATA port and use a small SSD. Third, its only output is through a serial cable, which works fine, but VGA (or IP KVM) is nicer.

    I've done a little searching, and can't seem to find any AMD Geode-based boards that are in a standard form factor and have dual NICs. (Does AMD still manufacture the Geode CPUs?)

    Feature-wise, this Supermicro X7SPA-HF-D525 meets all my needs, but I suspect the power consumption wouldn't be all that great. Between the Atom CPU (not really as energy-efficient as Intel's marketing would have us believe), ICH9 chipset, plus VGA and IPMI... I'm guessing that has to pull over 20 Watts AC, even with an efficient PSU like the PicoPSU. Does anyone have experience with this board, and if so, have you ever measured power consumption? (I have a hunch that I could probably build a Sandy Bridge Pentium/Celeron-based system that had similar idle power consumption (and for not a whole lot more money).)

    It may not be possible to do what I want at under 10 Watts... but I thought I'd ask anyway!
     
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  2. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator
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    So the X7SPA-HF-D525 is basically the answer if you want IPMI 2.0. I do think it is closer to 20w but I have not been able to test this (but I really want to.)
     
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  3. matt_garman

    matt_garman Active Member

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    The IPMI isn't a hard requirement, but more of a "nice to have".

    The other problem I have with the X7SPA-HF-D525 is the price... It's around $220 (USD) which seems awfully high for an Atom. Whereas I could get an X9SCL for about $180, and MicroCenter has the Celeron G530 for $40. Total is $220, for a much more capable system. Idle power consumption is probably a wash between these two configs. (Although Supermicro's page on the X9SCL doesn't say anything about Celeron support... might not work. But the Pentium G620 is only another $20 more.)

    I guess I should have added another requirement: I want all this for less than $150. :)
     
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  4. mobilenvidia

    mobilenvidia Moderator

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    ASUS AT3IONT-I DELUXE

    8w max TDP, passive cooling to keep things quiet.
    1x PCIe 16x slot to plug in a LSI SAS card :)
    Everything is on this baby.

    No VT-x or VT-d though

    ASROCK A330ION

    Similar as above but not all the bells and whistles

    AMD version as reviewed here ASRock 350M1
    But it has a fan
     
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    Last edited: Nov 9, 2011
  5. matt_garman

    matt_garman Active Member

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    The IONs really aren't appropriate for what I want to do. A lot of people use those for media PCs. I've read a fair amount about folks' experiences with those on the MythTV mailing list, and generally their idle power consumption isn't all that great (around 20 Watts or so from memory). I want to basically use this as a layer 3 network device, so advanced nvidia video is kind of a waste. Plus none of the above have dual onboard NICs; I'd have to use the PCIe slot for the necessary 2nd NIC. I think I'd be better served by something like the Intel BOXD525MW and use the PCI slot for a 2nd network card.
     
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  6. mobilenvidia

    mobilenvidia Moderator

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    Hahaha, that will learn me for not reading entire post :D

    You need something like VIA CPU/mobo option then ?
    ARM solution ?

    Dual NICs will be a toughy and your other specs.

    The ION's can't draw anymore power than the max TDP, the idle power of the ION must not be all that great I take it, so the Motherboard and other devices are using up the rest, can't blame ION for that.
    More things included on more power used.

    I'd go for the Supermicro mobo.

    1KWhr here costs 20c, so a computer with 1kw power use costs $2.40/day
    A 20w computer would cost $0.12/day
    A 100w computer would cost $0.60/day

    No bank breaker if you end up using more than 20w, unless you want to run it off a AAA battery :)
     
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  7. somename

    somename New Member

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    MSI made some industrial boards with Geode. I have one that I once used with PFSense. It has a lot of nice features like dual LAN ports, IDE connector(no SATA though), CF slot, PCI slot, and it consumed 10W max. One negative is that the LAN ports are Realtek. Then I found a random industrial Via C3 ITX board off eBay. It had SATA ports, and it was much faster than Geode. It only had one LAN port(still Realtek), but I found a cheap dual 10/100 LAN Intel based NIC to put in. I think the setup pulled about 12W.

    Now I'm running MSI IM-945GSE for PFSense. It's absolutely perfect for PFSense. It's got dual Intel gigabit LAN, PCI slot, SATA, mini-PCIe, etc, and it pulls about 10W. It's got passive heatsink, and it does get pretty warm in my 1u case without fans. It's a pretty expensive board though, but you can find one used on eBay for under $100 every now and then. I've been watching for it for about 6 months before I found one cheap enough for me. Be careful though, there are at least 4 variations on the board, and you might not get what you want. There are couple variations with DC power input, and a couple with only one LAN port.
     
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  8. matt_garman

    matt_garman Active Member

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    First, looks like someone else on SPCR is looking for something similar. Someone there suggested one of the Soekris Engineering boards. But eek! they are expensive.

    Good find. Is this the (full price) retail version of what you're talking about? That looks to be about perfect, except for the price of course.
     
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  9. somename

    somename New Member

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    Soekris are more of an appliance vendor. They supposedly provide good support, so they might be worth it considering. They wouldn't be my first choice, frankly, for home use. And hey, I just realized you are a fellow SPCR user. You got me to buy Biostar 760G board one time :).

    That's the board I'm using right now. It really is just about ideal. It is expensive, but if you can afford to wait, you're bound to find one in your price range on eBay eventually. If you can't wait, Via C3 isn't a bad solution, especially if you can score a board with dual port LAN with Via chipset which is much better than Realtec ones. But even if you can't find one with Via LAN, Intel based dual port 10/100 PCI NIC should be plentiful. They only add a couple of watts typically from my experience.
     
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