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How Neuros Built Their Nearly Silent HTPC

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the more-power-than-my-best-machine dept.

Hardware Hacking 199

JoeBorn writes "Neuros has a blog posting discussing how they created their latest 'thin' HTPC to be nearly silent. Instead of using a net-top architecture (Atom or the like) they used a full 2.7GHz CPU and put their effort into making that nearly silent. The article talks about their efforts on fan selection, placement, control, and vibration dampening. This route was chosen to 'give more headroom' for CPU-hungry apps (web and otherwise) including Adobe Flash. Their solution costs $279; is this an appropriate trade-off for a device powering your TV?"

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199 comments

Damping, not dampening. (5, Funny)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 4 years ago | (#31810964)

Vibrations may be damped. Vibrators may be dampened.

Re:Damping, not dampening. (2, Insightful)

j0hnyquest (1571815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811046)

i feel sorry for the poor lonely fool who voted this witty comment as 'offtopic'.

Re:Damping, not dampening. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811402)

way to take one for the team, JQ

Re:Damping, not dampening. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811090)

They once translated "inertial dampers" in one of the Star Trek movies into my native tongue as "inertial dampeners". In another movie, a different translator translated it as "inertial sordinos" - or is it "muffler" in English? (Not to mention the "overcoating/topcoating device", DS-9's "Bullet-head" starship, "rotating drive" and many other jewels...)

Re:Damping, not dampening. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811292)

And grammar nazis may be damned!

Re:Damping, not dampening. (5, Funny)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811360)

My good sir,

I request more information on these devices called "vibrators" and how they may become dampened. A quick search through the literature seems to suggest that the female of the human species uses it a kind of cleaning device. I give you my sincerest thanks in advance.

John C. Cluelessicus
Director of Research into the female sex,
Local Dungeons and Dragons fan club

Re:Damping, not dampening. (2, Funny)

Compuser (14899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811558)

Judging by the style of writing I expected the signature to read:

Dildongo Longo
Central sperm bank of Nigeria

Re:Damping, not dampening. (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811876)

Yeah, you don't get SPAM from them, you get something much less desirable.

Re:Damping, not dampening. (4, Funny)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811902)

Haha, cleaning device, what a douche bag.

interesting (0, Redundant)

j0hnyquest (1571815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31810992)

sounds like a cool technology

Is their website hosted on it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811016)

/. claims it's first Nearly Silent HTPC.

What about power? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811018)

An HTPC is likely to be left on 24/7 for recording, etc. Being power efficient is important under those circumstances.

what is the power use of a cable card tunner? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811066)

what is the power use of a cable card tuner?

Re:What about power? (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811100)

you can use a picoPSU that come in 90+ watt configurations. there are HTPC that are using only 60 watts at load but it of course depends on what you are using it for. I think a 90 watt picoPSU should be fine with a capture card but I don't capture on my HTPC and don't know first hand.

Re:What about power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811148)

They considered power. I actually RTFA, for once. It isn't very long and all on one page (because the article is the ad). They used a 45 W processor, iirc, and went on a bit about power generating heat and therefor need for more fanning, which leads to noise...

So, is this the sweet spot, considering noise, power and the need to run flash?

Re:What about power? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811808)

I would RTFA if it wasn't Slashdotted.

Neuros - Crappy UI/hardware products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811344)

Neuros is good with Open source - but products are shitty. I purchased one of their products - Neuros Media Center - and the marketing is so full of BS. The product lies in my junk pile waiting to be thrown out.

For starters - look at the product here in Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=bl_sr_electronics?ie=UTF8&search-alias=electronics&field-brandtextbin=NEUROS looks cool huh ? Did you know that the infra red port is on the side ? So the product cannot be aligned parallel to the tv it has to be perpendicular. Next - their crappy UI. The UI sucked!!

$250 down the drain.

I think neuros products are best for those looking to hack - nowhere close to mainstream usage!

Re:Neuros - Crappy UI/hardware products (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811812)

The product lies in my junk pile waiting to be thrown out.

Don't trash it, send it to me. I'm not "mainstream", and I like Neuros products.

Re:Neuros - Crappy UI/hardware products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31812212)

Would love to send it to you. Send the addy - and the price you wanna pay. I have space for the junk - and right now it serves a purpose warning me from buying crap.

silentpcreview (5, Informative)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811034)

silentpcreview.com is where users should go. the linked story isn't any different from the many forum posts describing silent systems people have made

Re:silentpcreview (2, Informative)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811074)

It's pretty easy to make any non-gaming system completely silent. Just get a giant heatsink, a 120mm Nexus or similar fan for it, and a fan controller, and put it in a nice vibration mitigating case like an Antec Solo. silentpcreview.com is definitely a great source of information for making it all work.

Re:silentpcreview (2, Informative)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811152)

Even gaming, if you aren't massively overclocking a good tower heatsink is good enough to run with little air flow. The main issue is the video card, however one would not hear the video card typically over sound unless the ambient temperature is high. There are of course aftermarket parts for the video card as well.

Another issue with any system, not only game systems is the sound of the hard drive. Many hard drives, especially older hard drives become loud over time. It doesn't matter how much you dampen the vibration. The best results depend on getting the right model (some Samsung and WD are popular right now if I'm up to date)

Re:silentpcreview (1)

pthisis (27352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811172)

Once you put a fan in it, it's not silent. Even underclocked 120 mm fans with good bearings make some noise.

When I built my htpc 9 years ago, finding a suitable fanless power supply and silent drives were the major hurdles. The second is easily solved without searching nowadays; the first still requires a bit of digging.

Re:silentpcreview (2, Interesting)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811220)

Technically yes, it's not silent, however most are aiming for quiet not so much perfect silence (good fans running in 800rpm are relatively quiet). It's possible to do silent, however you run up the price sometimes in aftermarket parts doing that. Once you get fanless then you notice the sound of the hard drive, so you put in an SSD instead, etc.

The ghetto method to do perfect silence is to put the computer in another room, for example in the closet of an adjoining room then run an hdmi cable (to the receiver) and usb (to a hub) through the wall (also optical/analog sound if the sound is not hdmi). It's what I do.

Re:silentpcreview (3, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811896)

There's silence and then there's silence. I've built a half-dozen system for my little project recording-studio and none of them register over 20dB. With a little baffling, they don't register at all anywhere near the microphones or audio monitors.

And they're really nothing fancy, built mainly in rack-mount server boxes with some additional soft stuff inside. I've got a new i7 system that has a lot of horsepower and it's still right around 20-25dB. SSDs were key because the loudest thing were the rumbling hard drives. Still pretty expensive, though.

On the other hand, my wife does fluid dynamics modeling (other side of the house) on an HP workstation that sounds like a '67 Harley Shovelhead in comparison. I'm going to have to get her a pair of those ear protectors the guys who work on airport runways use so she doesn't go deaf.

Re:silentpcreview (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811266)

This is true but the barely there air movement noise my Noctua 120mm's make when running for example is so slight that the high pitched squeel of a powered up electronic device is noisier.

Re:silentpcreview (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811388)

Sometimes home theater equipment has its own fans already, so they will make some noise, just like any fan will. They key is to make everything very quiet, so that it does not disturb you. That is very doable.

Re:silentpcreview (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811828)

Except your speakers, of course.

If you have a good speaker system, and a taste for Black Metal or similar, you should be able to use unmodified 1U servers, 15K RPM fans and all, as "comparatively silent" set-top hardware.

Re:silentpcreview (2, Interesting)

Latinhypercube (935707) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811538)

My thoughts exactly. Don't put a fan in a 'silent' pc. I am currently running an overclocked 3Ghz 4 core intel chip with PASSIVE cooling, so no noise. If that can run without a fan, I'm sure a media pc can run without a fan.

Re:silentpcreview (2, Informative)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811598)

Some HTPC cases are compact. With all the components in a limited space the temperature of the components can rise more than systems built into larger cases. The ambient temperature in your environment may also be lower than what other people are using their system in.

Re:silentpcreview (1)

blackpaw (240313) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811818)

It doesn't have to be silent, just quieter than the *ambient* noise. Most living rooms etc have enough noise to drown out a quiet PC. Once you start watching a programme you definitely can't hear it.

Re:silentpcreview (2, Insightful)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811846)

Going completely fanless is often overkill. A decent fan at minimum power will hardly make any noise.
If my computers much quieter than my TV, my Stereo system, and all my consoles, I really don't see the point in crapping out over a power supply.
DVD drives are the biggest problem, which is why I just always copy the DVD to a hard drive before playing it.

They've been Slash-dotted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811060)

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 10485760) (tried to allocate 4864 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/webform/webform.module on line 184

Re:They've been Slash-dotted. (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811068)

if you refresh it could load; not quite dead yet

Slashvertisement (4, Interesting)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811070)

"This is one slashvertisement I'd like to read", I thought to myself, but I was disappointed, because I expected lots of pictures and details, which I didn't get.

Re:Slashvertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811608)

Yeah I had exactly the same feeling...

And

>>So how quiet is the Phantom? 20 dB or less typically, but if that means nothing to you, put a different way, sitting on the couch 6 feet away, its probably less audible than the person next to you breathing.

I've got an up to 20dB rated CPU fan inside my case with a 12dB PSU and a case fan that's quieter than that (7 volted so I don't know it's real dB rating). This system net boots and has no other moving parts and I still find that CPU fan (that's inside the sealed case) annoyingly loud if I start doing anything intensive. So basically it's only quieter if that person is a panting mouth breather...

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811698)

An aside: the dB ratings from manufacturers are often false (ie outright lies)

Oops (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811080)

Fatal error: out of dynamic memory in yy_create_buffer() in Unknown on line 0

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 10747904) (tried to allocate 77824 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/webform/webform.module on line 1029

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 8650752) (tried to allocate 4864 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.module on line 779

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 11010048) (tried to allocate 77824 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/pathauto/pathauto.module on line 182

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 4718592) (tried to allocate 19456 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/img_assist/img_assist.module on line 730

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 10747904) (tried to allocate 2 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/webform/webform.module on line 688

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 262144) (tried to allocate 19456 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/cache.inc on line 151

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 524288) (tried to allocate 19456 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/path.inc on line 70

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 11272192) (tried to allocate 59 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/menu.inc on line 211

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 4456448) (tried to allocate 5 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/image/contrib/image_attach/image_attach.module on line 132

I gave up hitting refresh after so many memory errors.
Try the Coral Cache until their server comes back to life:
http://open.neurostechnology.com.nyud.net/content/Silent_HTPC [nyud.net]

Re:Oops (3, Funny)

sgbett (739519) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811218)

Hah, the coral cache has cached the error!

Re:Oops (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811274)

Posting anon:

A Silent HTPC
Tue, 04/06/2010 - 22:13 -- Joe

We've just released a practically silent Neuros LINK v1.2 [neurostechnology.com] (codenamed "Phantom") and figured some of you would be interested in the process.

Of course, there are easier ways to create a silent computer, the easiest being a net-top solution, with an Atom processor or the like. We've decided not to go that route with the LINK simply because we didn't want to make the sacrifice on CPU horsepower. Sadly, as we all know, there are still plenty of web apps and inefficient video streams that require CPU cycles. Instead, we architected a full power PC to be silent (or silent to an excellent approximation anyway) Click more to see what it took, or if you just want to buy, go here: [neurostechnology.com] we're good with that too.

1. Low power components: (45W CPU, no optical drive or HDD, nothing extra) less power means less heat generated in the first place, thus less for fans to need to remove. Although its a 2.7GHz CPU, the Sempron 140 still only consumes 45W, so we felt that was a nice tradeoff between performance and a manageable amount of heat.

2. Better Fans: We employed large, expensive, 120mm fluid dynamic bearing fans that are about as quiet as computer fans get. In fact they are pretty much silent save for the air they move.

3. vibration dampening neoprene mounts dampen any vibration before it causes noise. Vibrating sheet metal is a great source of very annoying noise and strategically placed vibration dampeners are very important.

4. Intelligent Fan control: We implemented the PWM (pulse width modulation) scheme to control fan speed throughout the system so that the fans would spin down (in a coordinated way) under normal use and only spin up when needed under heavy load (or in a closed cabinet where airflow is limited).

5. Elimination of most moving parts in addition to reducing power (and heat), the elimination of optical drives and harddrives means the elimination of the noise they generate. The flash drive used on the LINK is obviously silent (certainly to the unaided ear anyway)

6. Intelligent fluid dynamics of the entire system. One of the obvious benefits of controlling the whole system is that we have access to architect all the assembled parts when together, not just individual pieces. Thus we were able to replace the 70mm CPU fan with a larger, quieter 120mm fan that generates enough excess airflow that it can be used, in conjunction with a well placed power supply fan, to draw air to cool the north and south bridge chipsets of the motherboard well. If you open the case of the LINK, you'll find the components form a carefully developed airflow channel that covers the CPU, GPU, memory and power supply. Although the power supply is capable of running passively without a fan at all (it only operates at maximum ~40% of capacity in the LINK) we placed another fluid dynamic bearing fan to draw air into the power supply because it aided in creating the airflow channel needed. It also gives more headroom in case you do want to expand the LINK.

Although not obvious at first glance, there are a host of important details that were necessary to reduce noise levels to the level you'll find in the LINK. As one example, open the LINK case and you may notice there are standoffs that separate the main fan from the case by 10.5mm This distance was arrived at through careful research and testing. Place the fan too close to the case vents and turbulence is created that generates audible noise, too close to the heat sink or other components and you disrupt the airflow channel and not only generate noise, but also adversely affect the cooling.

So how quiet is the Phantom? 20 dB or less typically, but if that means nothing to you, put a different way, sitting on the couch 6 feet away, its probably less audible than the person next to you breathing. While it is possible to go entirely passive cooling with no fans at all, the current arrangement is very very quiet and gives head room in case you do want to add a harddrive or optical drive.

To our minds the Phantom strikes a compelling balance providing real HTPC power and expansion capacity with the extremely quiet operation of a netbook.

Slashdotted (0, Redundant)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811086)

Fatal error: out of dynamic memory in yy_create_buffer() in Unknown on line 0
Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 11010048) (tried to allocate 77824 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/pathauto/pathauto.module on line 182
Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 11796480) (tried to allocate 16 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/menu.inc on line 211
Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 8650752) (tried to allocate 4864 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.module on line 767
Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 12058624) (tried to allocate 35 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/menu.inc on line 1224
Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 9175040) (tried to allocate 192 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/tinymce/tinymce.module on line 242

etc, etc.

If we push it just a little bit harder, their web server will catch fire and then stop completely. THAT will really be a silent PC!

The Full Article (5, Informative)

theY4Kman (1519023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811092)

We've just released a practically silent Neuros LINK v1.2 [neurostechnology.com] (codenamed "Phantom") and figured some of you would be interested in the process.

Of course, there are easier ways to create a silent computer, the easiest being a net-top solution, with an Atom processor or the like. We've decided not to go that route with the LINK simply because we didn't want to make the sacrifice on CPU horsepower. Sadly, as we all know, there are still plenty of web apps and inefficient video streams that require CPU cycles. Instead, we architected a full power PC to be silent (or silent to an excellent approximation anyway) Click more to see what it took, or if you just want to buy, go here: [neurostechnology.com] we're good with that too.

1. Low power components: (45W CPU, no optical drive or HDD, nothing extra) less power means less heat generated in the first place, thus less for fans to need to remove. Although its a 2.7GHz CPU, the Sempron 140 still only consumes 45W, so we felt that was a nice tradeoff between performance and a manageable amount of heat.

2. Better Fans: We employed large, expensive, 120mm fluid dynamic bearing fans that are about as quiet as computer fans get. In fact they are pretty much silent save for the air they move.

3. vibration dampening neoprene mounts dampen any vibration before it causes noise. Vibrating sheet metal is a great source of very annoying noise and strategically placed vibration dampeners are very important.

4. Intelligent Fan control: We implemented the PWM (pulse width modulation) scheme to control fan speed throughout the system so that the fans would spin down (in a coordinated way) under normal use and only spin up when needed under heavy load (or in a closed cabinet where airflow is limited).

5. Elimination of most moving parts in addition to reducing power (and heat), the elimination of optical drives and harddrives means the elimination of the noise they generate. The flash drive used on the LINK is obviously silent (certainly to the unaided ear anyway)

6. Intelligent fluid dynamics of the entire system. One of the obvious benefits of controlling the whole system is that we have access to architect all the assembled parts when together, not just individual pieces. Thus we were able to replace the 70mm CPU fan with a larger, quieter 120mm fan that generates enough excess airflow that it can be used, in conjunction with a well placed power supply fan, to draw air to cool the north and south bridge chipsets of the motherboard well. If you open the case of the LINK, you'll find the components form a carefully developed airflow channel that covers the CPU, GPU, memory and power supply. Although the power supply is capable of running passively without a fan at all (it only operates at maximum ~40% of capacity in the LINK) we placed another fluid dynamic bearing fan to draw air into the power supply because it aided in creating the airflow channel needed. It also gives more headroom in case you do want to expand the LINK.

Although not obvious at first glance, there are a host of important details that were necessary to reduce noise levels to the level you'll find in the LINK. As one example, open the LINK case and you may notice there are standoffs that separate the main fan from the case by 10.5mm This distance was arrived at through careful research and testing. Place the fan too close to the case vents and turbulence is created that generates audible noise, too close to the heat sink or other components and you disrupt the airflow channel and not only generate noise, but also adversely affect the cooling.

So how quiet is the Phantom? 20 dB or less typically, but if that means nothing to you, put a different way, sitting on the couch 6 feet away, its probably less audible than the person next to you breathing. While it is possible to go entirely passive cooling with no fans at all, the current arrangement is very very quiet and gives head room in case you do want to add a harddrive or optical drive.

To our minds the Phantom strikes a compelling balance providing real HTPC power and expansion capacity with the extremely quiet operation of a netbook.

Mod Parent Up (1)

Sensible Clod (771142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811278)

Has most of the relevant points, and a non-slashdotted link (no pun intended)..

Re:The Full Article (1)

Pyrus.mg (1152215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811436)

The Phantom? Isn't that the game console that Duke Nukem' Forever is going to launch on? Someday. In a parallel universe.

Re:The Full Article (1)

theY4Kman (1519023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811532)

Uh, I don't know if you guys realize, but that's just a direct copy and paste from the article. The site isn't loading very well, so I grabbed what I could and put it up here.

Re:The Full Article (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811604)

in 2005 linux journal beat them to it.... http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/8292 [linuxjournal.com] Silent(yes, no movement at all) so i guess the only noise would be from high frequency electronics.

silent HTPC and silent site (4, Funny)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811170)

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 12058624) (tried to allocate 35 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/menu.inc on line 1224 ...
Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 1048576) (tried to allocate 4864 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/theme.inc on line 890 ...

- it's so silent, nobody can hear it scream.

Re:silent HTPC and silent site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31812310)

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 11796480) (tried to allocate 16 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/menu.inc on line 2

One Big Bitch, Then Another (0, Offtopic)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811174)

i use a quad core2, 4 gigs ddr2, ati 5570 - 1gig ddr3, in an antec box w/ a viewsonic 37" 720p and the ati usb 650 tv/fm recorder but my bitch is w/ the 3000 series wireless ms keyboard and mouse. anything approaching 6' and performance just dies. i thought of trying some logitech stuff but i'm running vista ultimate and, another bitch, after 5 years plus of HTPC is the hardware&drivers have to tie in well w/ the OS. i'll probably build a new box w/ new usb, sata, pci standards but then all my peripherals will probably be hooped. i don't think the upgrade path is practical w/ HTPC and a closely scrutinized system build approach is necessary.

just my loose change

Re:One Big Bitch, Then Another (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811270)

yes, many of the wireless keyboard and mouse are design to work well with a reciver within several feet. Logitech isn't any better. It's important to check how good the RF reception is or go with an alternative technology such as bluetooth.

Re:One Big Bitch, Then Another (2, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811286)

my bitch is w/ the 3000 series wireless ms keyboard and mouse. anything approaching 6' and performance just dies.

This is a problem which could be solved through the use of something called a "wire". There's no reason why your wireless receiver needs to be buried inside your computer.

Re:One Big Bitch, Then Another (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811318)

Even then, as he said beyond 5-6 feet many wireless keyboard mouse stop functioning well. I had previously used a Logitech Wave plugged into a USB hub extended as close to the seating as possible and it was still malfunctioning.

Re:One Big Bitch, Then Another (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811508)

This is a problem which could be solved through the use of something called a "wire".

Or through use of an actual remote control and an adapted UI... I run an MS media center remote with XBMC (on a PC, not a stupid console!), and it just works.

Re:One Big Bitch, Then Another (1)

zwede (1478355) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811792)

I've been pleased with my Logitech DiNovo. It uses bluetooth instead of RF and works fine from my couch 14 feet from the HTPC.

Re:One Big Bitch, Then Another (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811796)

What do your wireless keyboard problems have to do with a article on silent HTPCs?

An HTPC with no drives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811176)

Without a DVD drive, how do you play DVDs with it? Without a hard drive, how does it record and play back TV, downloaded content, etc? I know they have a flash drive for storage, but there's no way they can get the necessary capacity. I have a 1TB HD for my DVR and need a second. It costs thousands of dollars to get that kind of capacity in SSD form. Eliminating rotating storage to reduce noise seems like it's throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

dom

Re:An HTPC with no drives? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811298)

My understanding, from reading the specs, is that HDD and DVDROM are optional(ie. there is room in the case, ports on the motherboard, and a bit of headroom on the PSU, and the supplied OS will respond appropriately if you add them).

If you do so, you will presumably need to choose the correct components to minimize noise. Luckily, for a fairly undemanding application(in IOPS terms) your bog-standard cheap 5400RPM drive will fit the bill nicely.

Or, because this is the sort of thing that geeks are likely to buy, an SMB/NFS link to your Arbitrarily Large NAS, which can be humming away somewhere you aren't, is silent and offers plenty of capacity.

Optical drives are still an arguable one, since there is a lot of value to being able to just shove in a disk and go, even if somebody just brought it 3 minutes ago, and it hasn't had time to rip to your gigantic NAS yet; but the quest to cram large amounts of HDD storage into a set top box, while actually pretty doable(modern low-RPM drives with fluid bearings are quite quiet, and don't need much airflow at all to stay cool) is increasingly pointless. Gigabit ethernet is nearly free with most motherboards. Wireless N is cheap and getting cheaper. Unless the device has to be completely usable, out of the box, no assumptions about what else is on the LAN, by somebody who is tech-clueless, the correct solution is, almost always, "put them somewhere else".

Re:An HTPC with no drives? (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811328)

Without a hard drive, how does it record and play back TV, downloaded content, etc?

Perhaps they are using something radical called a "network interface". I have heard that people at MIT are doing some radical stuff with what they call "ethernet" which would allow you to access files on one computer from another one which could be hundreds of metres away.

Another approach involves writing "recorded TV, downloaded content, etc" onto flash memory itself. You don't need spinning discs for storage.

flash storage is bad for video a ram disk is to gi (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811622)

flash storage is bad for video a ram disk is to give a box a small live tv buffer / vod buffer with out a HDD but a SDD is to high cost / may burn out.

Re:flash storage is bad for video a ram disk is to (1)

bluesatin (1350681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811908)

I doubt a good SDD will burn out anytime soon:
http://www.storagesearch.com/ssdmyths-endurance.html [storagesearch.com]

I'll sum it up for you, a 64GB drive constantly being written to at 80MB/s will burn out in approximately 51 years.

Re:flash storage is bad for video a ram disk is to (1)

raynet (51803) | more than 4 years ago | (#31812308)

The article is assuming you rewrite the whole drive but there is a faster way to destroy a SSD. What I have seen is that a 64GB SSD drive usually has 64GB available to the user, not 64GiB (this is how much it actually has flash memory). The difference in sizes is used for write leveling and reallocating faulty cells. So the fastest way to destroy this kind of flash is first write 64GB to it and then keep rewriting the same small area continously. The write leveling cannot use already allocated 64GB area, so the writes all go to the area between 64GB and 64GiB (4.719GB or 4719476736B). This can be used up much faster than 51 years. At 80MB/s writes, you reach 100.000 rewrites to all of the cells in 68 days and million rewrites in two years. And SSDs are faster then 80MB/s nowadays so maybe you can kill your SSD in a month to a year. Ofcourse this is obviously not even close to a realistic "normal" usage on a SSD.

uhhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811182)

Uhhh, not really seeing what the big deal is here. I made something similar about a year ago for about the same price. E5200 proc on a mATX board, booting off a USB thumbdrive, all housed in an Antec Fusion case. It's got the low-power components, PWM fans, vibration damping, etc etc etc. Guess I shoulda put some up for sale. I coulda had some free advertising from Slashdot for the "miracle" I pulled off by thinking about things a little bit.

Re:uhhhh (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811448)

Most don't bother reading the article anyway. It's an opportunity to talk about quiet/silent computing

Atom (4, Interesting)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811222)

I know I've posted this on every single discussion involving the Atom ... but I have to say it again:

The Atom processor is amazingly powerful. The Atom 330/510 are dual core, 2 threads per core processors @ 1.6ghz. They are fucking amazing. And if your apps are well developed, and they can take advantage of multicore machines, it's a very powerful platform. I've seen some netbooks (based on Atom 270, single core, 2 threads) with windows that just crawl at doing just about anything but basic web browsing. But that's because windows sucks, not because Atom sucks. Try getting an Intel mini-atx Atom 510 based mobo and put 4 gb of ram in there. Using the embedded GMA intel card, I can run compiz at full speed @ 1990x1200 with all visual effects turned on, plus chrome with 30 open tabs, while gcc is compiling something on the background and still have a great performance. One of the appliances I develop (security) is based on an Atom 330, and we can run 16 ffmpegs encoding MPEG4 video @ 720x576 just fine. And you can run the 510 essentially fan-less by just adding a slightly better heatsink. It uses very little power, it runs very well, and completely quiet. For a completely silent machine, all you need to do is get one of this mobos in their 12v version, add an external laptop power brick, remove the fan and add a better heatsink. Or just use the 270 version (single core, 2 threads) that is completely fanless out of the box.

Noone needs a fucking 2.8Ghz dual core processor just to run flash video, all you need is a better OS and a little optimization.

BTW: This Intel mobos I'm mentioning are mini-atx and retail for ~$80, processor and everything. That is, mobo+cpu for 80 bucks. Nothing beats the Atom.

Re:Atom (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811356)

The other point is that there are decent GPU including onboard designed for HTPC which will hardware accelerate and diminish the need for CPU.

Re:Atom (1)

djrogers (153854) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811374)

"Noone needs a fscking 2.8Ghz dual core processor just to run flash video, all you need is a better OS and a little optimization." An Atom alone is fine for the 360/480p YouTube stuff, and low res hulu, but try watching some 720/1080p flash on that n270 and you'll learn what a slideshow is.

Re:Atom (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811626)

get that broadcom crystal HD mini-pci card thingy, flash can offload to that for the decode.

Re:Atom (2, Interesting)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811974)

I am playing back 8 720x576 channels at qmin 1 qmax 1 on that machine. How about that?

Re:Atom (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811420)

The trouble is, if you want to, say, run Flash video, you don't really get to choose how much optimization the producer of that particular video did.

If you look at Neuros' previous product in the same vein, it was a totally silent, totally fanless, passive-cooled-in-a-plastic-box type of affair, based on some embedded ARM media SoiC. Why did they switch to an x86 board whose processor sucks down more power than their entire previous design?

Because, being a fairly small outfit, they can't control the media market. If you are huge, or your product is vastly compelling in other respects, or you are building an embedded system of some sort, where you define the use cases, you can get away with specialized solutions. In the case of your security appliance, you choose what to encode, and thus what you'll have to decode. When Apple decided to ditch flash on their mobile devices, they got Google to spin them their very own youtube substitute, with a variety of other video outfits following suit.

If you are Neuros, though, your only hope of shifting units is pretty much supporting whatever crazy media your customers want. An x86 core fast enough to do HD Flash video, along with the full codec support of a desktop Linux distribution(complete with compatibility with the various questionably licit guides to installing proprietary x86 decoder dlls) is pretty much the only way to do that, as technically crude as it is.

Re:Atom (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811460)

I don't know how much CPU is still utilized but the current flash betas are GPU accelerated.

Re:Atom (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811556)

In all probability, then, if GPU accelerated Flash is fully baked by the time they start shipping these as a full commercial product(rather than the current "gamma" geek/prerelease stuff), they'll take advantage of having a socketed board, and just stuff it with a cheaper, slower, lower-power CPU.

My understanding is that this product has been in development a while, and that GPU accelerated flash has been, at best, a roadmap item for much of its history.

Re:Atom (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811610)

That said, the GPU acceleration is at the moment only for video and requires a GPU that supports DXVA. Eventually GPU acceleration will apply to more software. For example, firefox and Internet Explorer will soon have GPU acceleration of their rendering.

Re:Atom (2, Informative)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811450)

For MY personal PVR needs, an Atom just isnt going to cut it. My HTPC server uses alot of CPU power to detect and edit out commercials as well as compress the video into various formats. An Atom would choke on that workload. Also, encoding is the wrong word to use there, you are NOT encoding 16 streams, you are merely laying down 16 data tracks. Thats about as impressive as saying you have 16 torrents going at once.

Re:Atom (4, Interesting)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811962)

No, I used the right word, I am encoding.

I use a card with 8 SAA7134 chips that deliver 25 FPS (PAL) @ 720x576. That's 8 V4L devices delivering MJPEG video. I do motion detection on all 8 channels, and re-encode that as both Theora AND FLV at the same time. So I have 16 motherfucking ffmpegs doing encoding. The motion detecting daemon delivers raw video to all 16 ffmpegs, 8 output Theora and 8 output FLV. So, yes, I am encoding 16 videos at a time.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811580)

Yeah, I know this is Slashdot, but it would be really great if you actually knew even a little about what you're talking about.

Just about all of the Intel Atom 510-based mini- ITX systems already have fanless heatsinks.

http://www.intel.com/products/desktop/motherboards/D510MO/D510MO-overview.htm

If this mobo is properly enclosed, no fans are needed at all if you are using a picoPSU type DC power supply.

http://www.mini-box.com/DC-DC

The previous generation Atom, the 330, required a fan, but not for the CPU: Intel shipped their 330-based boards with the relatively energy-inefficient 945 chipset, and that did require active cooling, although some modders replaced the horrendously noisy stock cheapass fan with either better fans (ie quieter) or with big heatsinks in order to avoid the use of a fan at all.

The Atom 330 is actually a truly excellent little system, if you can live with the noise of the stock fan, or are willing to replace it with something better. (Meaning just about any other fan available on the market - THANKS, INTEL!!!)

The Atom 510-based systems are better in that, while not a huge improvement CPU-wise, the new NM10 chipset used in place of the older 945 is vastly superior. Total power consumption of these 510 mobos is miniscule.

If your primary concern is a bleeding eyeball HTPC system the ION-based mini-ITX/Atom mobos are still the better choice, but for almost anything else (general use, or server/firewall/gateway, or remote solar-powered systems, etc), the Atom 510 is hard to beat. Even the Atom 330 is more than good enough: the 945 chipset maybe be inefficient when compared against the 510, but it's still far better than that used by most other mobos.

Re:Atom (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811834)

The Atom processor is amazingly powerful. The Atom 330/510 are dual core, 2 threads per core processors @ 1.6ghz.

And each core is about four times slower than my 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo. No thanks!

Re:Atom (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811894)

Noone needs a fucking 2.8Ghz dual core processor just to run flash video, all you need is a better OS and a little optimization.

Hehe... I need a 3.5ghz quad-core. But I actually encode H.264 in realtime from time to time.

Those Atom 330's and D510's really are affordable, and quite powerful. They come close to Pentium D's in performance, but without the 100+ watts power consumption.

A lightweight OS with efficient multiple-core usage (*cough* Linux) can make good use of them. They're a tad weak in Vista/Win7, but still better than anything single-core.

P.S. Did you mean 1920x1200?

Re:Atom (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811912)

Actually, it's 1980x1200.

Fan = not silent. (2, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811232)

Its quiet, not silent. Last silent system I built is carved out of a solid chunk of aluminium. No fans, no moving parts at all.

Re:Fan = not silent. (1)

g00ey (1494205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811384)

Even a fan-less system is not silent, you have to put up with the humming 60Hz noise coming from the power supply unit.

Re:Fan = not silent. (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811634)

just move the PSU outside the computer, and then the computer is silent :P, that brick used to power it on the other hand...

Re:Fan = not silent. (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811906)

Err... no thanks. I'd take an internal PSU with a bit of moving air before one of those humming laptop power bricks.

A good PSU is more power efficient, too. My NAS uses 2006 hardware(Via C7-M), but barely consumes 40w even with all those HDDs.

Re:Fan = not silent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811878)

DC to DC power and a battery bank...

I am not impressed. (2, Interesting)

trum4n (982031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811312)

I, a 22 year old nerd, have been building fanless, high performance machines that are silent since the 90's. My first PC I built when I was 12 was silent. A fanless gaming machine. Rubber o-rings kept the loudest part, the hard drive, from making noise. The power supply fan was removed, and the case slotted to allow passive convection cooling. This is a really unimpressive "break through." My 2 cents.

Re:I am not impressed. (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811510)

I, a 22 year old nerd, have been building fanless, high performance machines that are silent since the 90's. My first PC I built when I was 12 was silent.

Ok, but you left out one important detail. They are silent, but did they actually ever work?

Otherwise, my parents have an Apple II that has been silent since the 80's. Now beat that!

Re:I am not impressed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811570)

Posting AC from my fone. Yes they all worked. Gaming even.

Re:I am not impressed. (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811638)

There are power supplies designed to be fanless. In addition, you can use laptop HDs and CPUs; for the latter you generally need a specialized motherboard (usually Mini-ITX), but it's a great way to save power and hence cooling requirements.

"Laptop" CPUs are pretty much the same as their "desktop" counterparts, except they are the best picks of the lot to allow lower voltages, and you can usually undervolt them further.

Re:I am not impressed. (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811666)

My tabulating machine doesn't have any fans. The relays and card punch solenoids make an awful racket though.

Re:I am not impressed. (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811760)

I, a 22 year old nerd, have been building fanless, high performance machines that are silent since the 90's. My first PC I built when I was 12 was silent.

You're 22 now, you built your first PC at 12; it's 2010, that makes your first build 1999 at the very earliest. I'm not sure if that *really* qualifies for "since the 90s".

What the fuck is a HTPC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811494)

How are we supposed to know what to make of "How Neuros Built Their Nearly Silent HTPC" when you use acronyms that almost nobody knows?

Re:What the fuck is a HTPC? (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811692)

Home Theater PC. Always thought it was a stupid name myself. Mostly because "home theater" is an oxymoron in general. TVputer is what I usually call mine.

Re:What the fuck is a HTPC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31811772)

You do realize that 'HTPC' in the article summary is a link to Wikipedia which explains just what an HTPC is, right? I realize that basic literacy is a problem nowadays, but sweet fucking jesus.

Comparison to other systems? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811804)

I am already using a "Mac mini" for my HTPC solution and it is pretty much silent. While I don't claim this to be the yard stick to measure by, I would be interested in seeing how quiet this computer is in comparison and how other HTPC oriented solutions compare, especially ones with non-netbook processors. I did look at buying the Shuttle X27D a while back, but it ended up being about the same price as the mini for the same, or reduced, features. I also looked at putting my own together with a mini-itx motherboard and a case designed for fanless computing, but I often found the cases were out of my budget.

Re:Comparison to other systems? (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811938)

The idle fan speed (idle or load) and coil whine reported on some units is maybe not up to the standard of quiet enthusiasts but relative to other systems it's good. If it doesn't bother you and there's no coil whine then there's nothing to worry about.

Wasted money on fluid bearing fans (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811824)

I find fans with ball or "fluid" bearings to be noisier than sleeve/bushing bearings with more noticeable tonals than broadband noise. They are only preferred because they outlive the cheap sleeve type fans. If you compare fans across a given size, you'll find that the noise level is proportional to the cfm/rpm irregardless of the brand.

So the important thing for a quiet fan is go big and go slow. Or for silent, go fanless. Use a heat pipe to channel the heat out to a heatsink on the back of the chassis. There are standard PC power supplies out there that do just this. There are passive cases which pull the heat from the CPU into the chassis. I don't see where this setup is anything special, myself.

Re:Wasted money on fluid bearing fans (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811892)

this is oversimplifying considering all the fans that have comparable cfm/rpm yet have characteristics which makes them loud/annoying

I don't get it. (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811898)

Why does it have to be silent? Sure quiet is nice but you're watching LOTR with the 7.1 Surround sound and you're worried about 30dB coming from your HTPC.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31811978)

First, even loud movies have quiet moments and the ideal for those users is to not hear the hum of a computer at any point. Second, the fact that there is a movie making sound doesn't necessarily prevent one from also hearing the sound of a computer.

Re:I don't get it. (2, Insightful)

JackSpratts (660957) | more than 4 years ago | (#31812170)

a box like this can easily become the primary way to play your stored music. if i had one that's what i'd use it for. i may watch a few movies a week - but music runs all day every day at my place, often very quietly, streamed off several external hard drives attached to a computer in an upstairs closet. silent yes, but impractical to control, and as for remote access, forget it.
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