Google’s ChromeBox Challenged by AMD and Linux

FitPC3 comes with much more connectivity options and better productivity software

By on May 31st, 2012 09:22 GMT
Embedded computing specialist, Israeli company Compulab, together with the Linux experts from Linux Mint, is preparing to launch the FitPC3 minicomputer to take on the newly-announced Google ChromeBox.

Unlike Google’s new SFF, the FitPC3 is built around AMD’s Brazos platform, with the embedded T40N and T56N APUs providing the computing power.

Software-wise, Compulab’s FitPC3 is coming with a Debian-derivative operating system. It is called Linux Mint, and it will be a highly-optimized version 13 called “Maya,” featuring MATE 1.2 desktop environment and the popular XBMC media center.

The Compulab’s FitPC3 connectivity is well-endowed with six USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 connectors and two eSATA ports.

There’s also a pair of HDMI and DisplayPort display outputs along with stereo audio, Gigabit Ethernet, Wirless N and Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity.

The two eSATA ports offer much more functionality than any of ChromeBox’ six USB 2.0 ports.

Inside the unit we find a 2.5” hard drive, AMD’s A55 FCH and up to 8 GB of DDR3-1066 memory.

HD audio in 7.1 implementation is also in there.

AMD’s T40N and T56N APUs both come with an integrated graphics processing unit (iGPU) with 80 shader cores.

The difference is that the T40N runs its iGPU at a low 280 Mhz frequency, calling it Radeon HD 6290, while the T56N APU runs its iGPU at a low 500 Mhz frequency, calling it Radeon HD 6310.

T40N’s main frequency is a modest 1000 MHz that will allow the dual-core processor to stay below the maximum TDP of just 9 watts.

The T56N APU works at a much higher 1600 MHz, but it comes with a maximum TDP of 18 watts.

Both APUs feature a single DDR3 memory channel with a width of 64 bits, and that will be enough to face any Atom-powered nettop.

The FitPC3 will most likely be better priced than Samsung’s ChromeBox and the additional USB 3.0 and double eSATA connectivity will provide much better productivity.

On the performance side, we must make it clear that this is mainly an Atom competitor, as it can’t compete with Intel’s Sandy Bridge inside the latest ChromeBox.

On the iGPU side, maybe, but on the CPU side, a 1900 MHz dual-core Sandy Bridge Celeron will likely trounce the 1600 MHz Brazos.

If power consumption is the main issue, then AMD’s T40N and T56N APUs have the upper hand, as they consume a maximum of just 9W and 18W, respectively.
Also, it is important to mention that FitPC3 will be completely fanless.

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