Low-power HTPC etc (was: Re: AMD E-350)

Juergen Lock nox at jelal.kn-bremen.de
Mon Mar 28 21:00:38 UTC 2011

Some updates about my box for the archives...

On Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 07:54:39PM +0100, Juergen Lock wrote:
> In article <201103142030.p2EKU6rv087366 at lurza.secnetix.de> you write:
> >John Hein wrote:
> > > Some of this definitely pushing the envelope right now, so atom is
> > > likely more right for you.  But using arm for this space (and low
> > > single digit W instead of 10-ish) seems not that far away.
> >
> >Well, the Atom N330 has a TDP of only 8 W, which isn't
> >that bad for a 1.6 GHz 64bit 4-way processor (2 cores +
> >hyperthreading).
> >
> >Of course, ARM processors may certainly have even better
> >performance/watt ratio.  But I think I stay with i386-
> >compatible hardware for my particular case.
> Btw there's also the Celeron SU2300 which has a TDP of 10 W and is
> about twice as fast as the N330 Atom as you can see e.g. here:
> 	http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Processors-Benchmarklist.2436.0.html
> (even tho it only runs at 1.2 GHz.)
>  I know this because I had a similar problem as you and now I'm in
> the process of setting up this little box called "ZOTAC ZBOX HD-ND22":
> 	http://pden.zotac.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage_images.tpl&product_id=275&category_id=118&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1
> It was about EUR 200 without disk/RAM, and the only drawbacks I found
> so far are:
> a) its not fanless (although pretty silent),
> b) it only supports usb keyboards/mice,
> c) the bios seems to be a little buggy when booting from the internal
>    disk using FreeBSD's bootcode/loader (there's a long-ish delay
>    before loading each bootcode/kernel/kld and the usb keyboard
>    doesn't work in that case either until the kernel is started)
>    booting the install image from an usb flashkey was much faster
>    and the keyboard worked too.  I have yet to try putting grub2
>    on the internal disk and booting FreeBSD using that, or if that
>    doesn't improve things putting the boocode/kernel on a flashkey
>    - and
 Using grub2 fixed that indeed, this is the config snippet:

menuentry "FreeBSD -v" {
    insmod ufs2
    set root=(hd0,1)
    kfreebsd /boot/kernel/kernel -v
    kfreebsd_module_elf /boot/kernel/ahci.ko
# XXX doesn't work: ?????
#    kfreebsd_module_elf /boot/modules/nvidia.ko
    set kFreeBSD.vfs.root.mountfrom=ufs:/dev/ada0s1a
    set kFreeBSD.vfs.root.mountfrom.options=rw

 As you can see for some reason loading nvidia.ko from grub2 doesn't
work so I now do that from rc.local .

 (Btw I also got a suggestion to turn off ahci and its bios support
code in the box' bios because that helped for someone else on an ICH
controller, but it didn't help with this box that uses an nvidia.)

> d) at least 8.2 doesn't know the onboard Ralink RT2860/RT2890 wifi,
>    (I wanted wired anyway and the onboard nfe(4) seems to work)
 The wifi does seem to be detected on Linux btw (didn't really try
using it other than by doing an `iwlist scan'.)

> e) it doesn't have audio line in, only line/spdif out and mic in.
>    (of course you could connect an usb soundcard.)
 I also have a low hum on the (analog) line out, although that could
also just be a ground loop...  (not bothering about that too much
yet since this isn't the final location where I want to put the box.)

> BUT:
> - vdpau with xbmc etc works pretty well including for 1080i with
>   half temporal deinterlacing (no temporal spatial tho since this
>   seems to be the `old' ION),
 As was mentioned in another thread temporal is `supposed' to work
on the `old' ION too, but I get mixed results with that even on
Linux, sometimes it seems to work, sometimes video with a lot of
motion looks a little `jumpy'...  (not always easily noticeable

> - unlike on miwi's box the amd64 nvidia driver _does_ work with
>   8 GB RAM,
> - the cpu has vmx too so if you want you can even run vbox with
>   amd64 guests, and
 Tested that a little now too and found out vbox 4.0.4 needs to be
forced onto a single cpu or guests would fail to start with an

	 cpuset -l 1 VirtualBox

and the usb host code also seems to work less well than on my other
box, it even caused the usb mouse to misbehave once and I had to
kill vbox from another box via ssh.  (altough the reason I never
had that on the other box could also just be that it's mouse/kbd
are on ps2...)

> [...]


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