I was aware of a few options out there, but I was very fortunately introduced to one spectacular little box...the Intel NUC!
The unboxing experience is nothing short of pure marketing genius!
The physical form factor of all models is identical:
- 4.6" x 4.4" x 1.6"
- 11.7cm x 11.2cm x 4.1cm
There are 3 different processor options:
And there are three different peripheral setups:
- HDMI 1.4a (x2) + USB 2.0 (x3) + Gigabit ethernet
- HDMI 1.4a (x1) + Thunderbolt supporting DisplayPort 1.1a (x1) + USB 2.0 (x3)
- HDMI 1.4a (x1) + Mini DisplayPort 1.1a (x2) + USB 2.0 (x2); USB 3.0 (x1)
I ended up buying 3 of these last week, and reworked my audio/video and baby monitoring setup in the house last week. I bought 2 of these (i3 + Ethernet) , and 1 of these (i3 + Thunderbolt)
Quite simply, I couldn't be happier with these little devices!
I used one of these to replace the dedicated audio/video PC (an x201 Thinkpad) hooked up in my theater. The x201 was a beefy machine, with plenty of CPU and video capability. But it was pretty bulky, rather noisy, and drew too much power.
And the other two are Baby-buntu baby monitors, as previously blogged here, replacing a real piece-of-crap Lenovo Q100 (Atom + SiS307DV and all the horror maligned with that sick chip set).
All 3 are now running Ubuntu 13.10, spectacularly I might add! All of the hardware cooperated perfectly.
Here are the two views that I really wanted Amazon to show me, as I was buying the device...what the inside looks like! You can see two mSATA ports and red/black WiFi antenna leads on the left, and two DDR3 slots on the right.
On the left, you can now see a 24GB mSATA SSD, and beneath it (not visible) is an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 WiFi adapter. On the right, I have two 8GB DDR3 memory modules.
Note, to get wireless working properly I did have to:
echo "options iwlwifi 11n_disable=1" | sudo tee -a /etc/modprobe.d/iwlwifi.conf
The BIOS is really super fancy :-) There's a mouse and everything. I made a few minor tweaks, to the boot order, assigned 512MB of memory to the display adapter, and configured it to power itself back on at any power loss.
Speaking of power, it sustains about 10 watts of power, at idle, which costs me about $11/year in electricity.
Some of you might be interested in some rough disk IO statistics...
kirkland@living:~⟫ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda /dev/sda: Timing cached reads: 11306 MB in 2.00 seconds = 5657.65 MB/sec Timing buffered disk reads: 1478 MB in 3.00 seconds = 492.32 MB/sec
And the lshw output...
description: Desktop Computer product: (To be filled by O.E.M.) width: 64 bits capabilities: smbios-2.7 dmi-2.7 vsyscall32 configuration: boot=normal chassis=desktop family=To be filled by O.E.M. sku=To be filled by O.E.M. uuid=[redacted] *-core description: Motherboard product: D33217CK vendor: Intel Corporation physical id: 0 version: G76541-300 serial: [redacted] *-firmware description: BIOS vendor: Intel Corp. physical id: 0 version: GKPPT10H.86A.0025.2012.1011.1534 date: 10/11/2012 size: 64KiB capacity: 6336KiB capabilities: pci upgrade shadowing cdboot bootselect socketedrom edd int13floppy1200 int13floppy720 int13floppy2880 int5printscreen int14serial int17printer acpi usb biosbootspecification uefi *-cache:0 width: 32 bits clock: 66MHz capabilities: storage msi pm ahci_1.0 bus_master cap_list configuration: driver=ahci latency=0 resources: irq:40 ioport:f0b0(size=8) ioport:f0a0(size=4) ioport:f090(size=8) ioport:f080(size=4) ioport:f060(size=32) memory:f6906000-f69067ff *-serial UNCLAIMED description: SMBus product: 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller vendor: Intel Corporation physical id: 1f.3 bus info: pci@0000:00:1f.3 version: 04 width: 64 bits clock: 33MHz configuration: latency=0 resources: memory:f6905000-f69050ff ioport:f040(size=32) *-scsi physical id: 1 logical name: scsi0 capabilities: emulated *-disk description: ATA Disk product: BP4 mSATA SSD physical id: 0.0.0 bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0 logical name: /dev/sda version: S8FM serial: [redacted] size: 29GiB (32GB) capabilities: gpt-1.00 partitioned partitioned:gpt configuration: ansiversion=5 guid=be0ab026-45c1-4bd5-a023-1182fe75194e sectorsize=512 *-volume:0 description: Windows FAT volume vendor: mkdosfs physical id: 1 bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0,1 logical name: /dev/sda1 logical name: /boot/efi version: FAT32 serial: 2252-bc3f size: 486MiB capacity: 486MiB capabilities: boot fat initialized configuration: FATs=2 filesystem=fat mount.fstype=vfat mount.options=rw,relatime,fmask=0022,dmask=0022,codepage=437,iocharset=iso8859-1,shortname=mixed,errors=remount-ro state=mounted *-volume:1 description: EXT4 volume vendor: Linux physical id: 2 bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0,2 logical name: /dev/sda2 logical name: / version: 1.0 serial: [redacted] size: 25GiB capabilities: journaled extended_attributes large_files huge_files dir_nlink recover extents ext4 ext2 initialized configuration: created=2013-11-06 13:01:57 filesystem=ext4 lastmountpoint=/ modified=2013-11-12 15:38:33 mount.fstype=ext4 mount.options=rw,relatime,errors=remount-ro,data=ordered mounted=2013-11-12 15:38:33 state=mounted *-volume:2 description: Linux swap volume vendor: Linux physical id: 3 bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0,3 logical name: /dev/sda3 version: 1 serial: [redacted] size: 3994MiB capacity: 3994MiB capabilities: nofs swap initialized configuration: filesystem=swap pagesize=4095
It also supports: virtualization technology, S3/S4/S5 sleep states, Wake-on-LAN, and PXE boot. Sadly, it does not support IPMI :-(
Finally, it's worth noting that I bought the model with the i3 for a specific purpose... These three machines all have full virtualization capabilities (KVM). Which means these little boxes, with their dual-core hyper-threaded CPUs and 16GB of RAM are about to become Nova compute nodes in my local OpenStack cluster ;-) That will be a separate blog post ;-)