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Old 07-08-2009, 08:18 PM   #1
MrMcGoo
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Choosing a low power CPU


Hello all,

Need some help in choosing a CPU for a project.

I am going to assemble a computer dedicated to internet surfing. It will run Tiny Core Linux entirely in RAM, booted from a USB memory stick. In addition to Xwindows, its only software will be the JWM window manager and a Firefox browser. No hard drive to be installed. Any files I would want to save would be FTP'd to a headless box where I store stuff. It would most likely have a laser printer installed. It will connect to the web through my lan, and will run 24/7. I would want low power consumption so as to keep the electric bill down and keep my room a little cooler this summer.

Am thinking about an older Celeron, the 566R socket 370 I think it's called. Then, as to AMD, I haven't a clue. I would think the Celeron or an AMD equivilent should be adequate for this simple use. I realize that this is older hardware, and that the BIOS may not boot from USB in which case I'd need to install a cd drive.

The board/CPU will be purchased on EBay. Thanks for any advise.
 
Old 07-08-2009, 08:25 PM   #2
stress_junkie
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One excellent source of Linux performance information on various hardware components is www.phoronix.com. One truly excellent web site!

Low power computers are becoming popular. I would consider getting a new or refurbished netbook for your project. You can always remove the disk drive and/or use Linux display power managment to save power.
 
Old 07-08-2009, 08:34 PM   #3
chickenlinux
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celeron sounds good, but i wouldn't use AMD. I've had problems with them. If you want something cheap, try a Pentium III. The celeron is fine tho.
 
Old 07-08-2009, 09:30 PM   #4
onebuck
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Hi,
Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenlinux View Post
celeron sounds good, but i wouldn't use AMD. I've had problems with them. If you want something cheap, try a Pentium III. The celeron is fine tho.
I would say the AMD series would work just as good as a Intel based system. Just because you may have had poor or bad performance with AMD doesn't mean everyone will experience the same. Either way MAX the memory.

As for BIOS support for booting a 'USB' the OP could look at using 'sbootmgr'. The OP should either leave or put a 1.44 floppy in his system. The load requirements would be negligible vs a cdrom. Or install both for utility. The OP could get the 'sbootmgr' on cdrom.
 
Old 07-08-2009, 11:48 PM   #5
elliott678
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Check out the new Intel Atom boards, they are a little more expensive, but will use a lot less power than an old Celeron chip. Old stuff just can't compete on efficiency.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Intel-D945GCLF2-...3%3A1|294%3A50
 
Old 07-09-2009, 07:38 AM   #6
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elliott678 View Post
Check out the new Intel Atom boards...
...just don't but one. The Atom processors themselves are decent -low power consumption, but not much computing power (still better than an 'old' celeron), but the system power consumption can be the same as a 'new' Pentium or Celeron, but the Pentium/Celeron (the core 2 duo derived parts, not the older generations) have rather higher processing power and the you can upgrade later, should you wish.

There will be upgraded chipsets along for the Atoms along sometime soon, and when those are available, there may be a case for atoms, but not now.

Also watch out that the Atom processor/boards can have high-ish prices, depending on spec, so that is a factor that might still put you off, depending on how the prices of the new boards come out.
 
Old 07-09-2009, 08:54 AM   #7
onebuck
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Hi,

I really think the OP was thinking along the lines of implementing older hardware. Not current processors or MB.
 
Old 07-09-2009, 11:41 PM   #8
MrMcGoo
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Thanks to all who replied to my question. I was away all day so couldn't get back til now.

I wish I had given more thought to the question before I presented it. A Wikipedia chart shows: Pentium II wattage as 18.8 thru 43.0 depending on model. Pentium III's run 25.3 - 34.5. Pentium IV's run as high as 115 watts. The lowest wattage Celeron seems to be 11.2 while wattage of the Celeron in one of my computers is 84. I found a low of .65 watts for the Atom. Then I read that MSI motherboards generally consume less power than ASUS boards, and it became apparent that the answer to my question, if there is one, is not so simple a matter.
 
Old 07-10-2009, 12:50 AM   #9
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An AMD Sempron relates to an Intel Celeron.

Be careful looking at TDP. Both AMD and Intel states TDP differently. The best way when finding a computer at the lowest power consumption is testing the computer based on total power consumption. The processor is not the only part that is consuming energy. The chipset, memory, NIC, sound, video card, USB, optical drive, several others also consumes power.

I doubt the rumors that MSI motherboards consumes less power than ASUS or the other way around. Again it is about total power consumption. The brand has nothing to do with it.

USB flash disk is not reliable as a hard drive. A notebook hard drive can be used.

The easiest way is buy a netbook like the ASUS N10 series and vista a free WiFi hot spot that is air conditioned. This will be the cheapest way.

A good project is solar cells and/or wind power.

To keep the electricity bill low, invest an AC mister and/or think about venting the house to move heat up and out the house.
 
Old 07-10-2009, 02:38 AM   #10
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For the type of machine you are talking about you may want to look at non standard power supplies. One of the more popular ones is:

http://www.mini-box.com/s.nl/it.A/id.417/.f

and its other members from the same stable.The system you have described should be well below 50watts (total) and very few other power supplies are efficient at these low wattage levels.

Despite the chipset issues (chipset uses more power than cpu, by far), I would look at the atom 330. Motherboards (including cpu) are about $80(or less if you hunt). Slap in 2GB of ram, choose a case (using the pico psu you can use almost anything). While a usb/SDcard is not as reliable as a HD, they are much cheaper(8gb for $30, 4GB for $15). With those kinds of prices, even if they only last two years, it is a pretty good deal.
 
Old 07-10-2009, 03:48 AM   #11
elliott678
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazlow View Post
and its other members from the same stable.The system you have described should be well below 50watts (total) and very few other power supplies are efficient at these low wattage levels.

Despite the chipset issues (chipset uses more power than cpu, by far), I would look at the atom 330. Motherboards (including cpu) are about $80(or less if you hunt).
I think he would be looking at around 20 watts or less for a full system with an Atom board. I know my Asus Eee 901's power brick is rated at 36 watts and it only comes close to that when it is charging the battery and running the computer at the same time.

EDIT: I'm not sure how accurate Intel's PowerTOP is, but right now, under normal usage with wireless, it is estimating I am using 9.5 watts. This is a system with a single core 1.6Ghz Atom, a Intel 945 chipset, a 4 and a 16GB SSD and Intel 3945 wireless.

Last edited by elliott678; 07-10-2009 at 04:00 AM.
 
Old 07-10-2009, 04:06 PM   #12
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Sure an Intel Atom based motherboard costs around $80, but they are limited. If decoding videos, performance will suffer because of the Intel chipset. I suggest to keep power consumption low and provide good performance even during HD playback, an nVidia Ion with Atom based motherboard is better.

AMD systems provides better bang for performance than Intel systems. Still Adobe has not improve the performance of their Flash plug-in for Linux, so I suggest invest in a faster processor.
 
Old 07-10-2009, 07:34 PM   #13
jefro
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You can't have low power and high expectations.

Almost all the older stuff will consume more power than the newest ultra low power boards and be much slower in all cases. See the mini itx boards for ideas. At least the atoms have much faster fsb than any old 586 or below. (except rambus boards.)
 
Old 07-10-2009, 07:44 PM   #14
chickenlinux
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BTW, wouldn't seamonkey possibly be a better choice for a lighter machine? It's like firefox, just lighter...
 
Old 07-10-2009, 07:49 PM   #15
elliott678
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Electro View Post
Sure an Intel Atom based motherboard costs around $80, but they are limited. If decoding videos, performance will suffer because of the Intel chipset. I suggest to keep power consumption low and provide good performance even during HD playback, an nVidia Ion with Atom based motherboard is better.

AMD systems provides better bang for performance than Intel systems. Still Adobe has not improve the performance of their Flash plug-in for Linux, so I suggest invest in a faster processor.
He was talking about a 566Mhz socket 370 Celeron from nearly 10 years ago, I don't think he had any plans of HD playback or anything like that. As long as you aren't playing HD through Flash, the Atom isn't bad, my Asus 901 plays 720p without an issue. If PowerTOP is right, my entire system uses less power than that Celeron chip does alone and is at least 5x as powerful.
 
  


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