EliteGroup Computer Systems has been selling a line of tiny desktop computers under the Liva brand since mid-2014. Now it looks like the company is getting ready to launch a new small form-factor computers.
The folks at Notebook Italia recently noticed that a device called the ECS SI mPC computer appeared on the FCC website recently.
The ECS SI mPC is an Intel NUC-like computer. It measures about 4.6″ x 4.2″x 2.2″ for a model with a hard drive, or 1.8″ high for a model without a 2.5 inch drive bay.
Either model features an Intel Celeron N2830 Bay Trail processor, a half-size mini PCIe slot with support for mSATA storage devices, and a DDR3L SODIMM slot for up to 8GB of RAM.
There are two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI ports, a headset jack, and an IR port for a remote control. The system comes with 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 support.
Most of this class of device is either too hardware-poor to make a usable desktop or too expensive to make some sort of IoT platform, or crap like an Edison board or Intel Compute Stick. There is a sweet spot and a market, but it isn’t HTPC/TV-Boxes or media servers, and it isn’t desktops. The Liva products fail because of UEFI and eMMC, limiting them to consumer OSs instead of something like Server Core. Microsoft doesn’t want to make that available for cheap anyway since they gave the “IoT Land Grant” to their dying ARM group, so one more foolish and shortsighted move by old Skeletor. When are they going to fire that guy out of a cannon?
Nobody cares about Microsoft os on this
Well, almost nobody I guess except for Microsoft and developers who prefer Microsoft OSs for whatever reasons. I guess this site is dominated by appliance operators though.
It has a sodimm slot. And some linux versions handle UEFI. I’m running Xubuntu 14.04 on EUFI right now. I had to do nothing to accommodate it. Just installed as usual.
They clearly are thinking of it as an htpc device with that IR port on there I think.
Unless it was dirt cheap though I’d go for something based on Haswell or Broadwell or, soon enough, Skylake.
Almost all low-end Intel small-form-factor boards in machines like these will allow you to set “UEFI” or “Legacy” boot mode in the BIOS setup. Yes, some distros have bowed-down before the Greedy Gods of Closed-Source and now support UEFI, but it really isn’t necessary. I think ECS may in-fact be supporting the SFF HTPC & STB market with a box like this. Hotel set-top-boxes are a huge market for-example, and those boxes invariably run Linux or xBSD. This ECS box with the proven Celeron N2830 probably fits in nicely there, especially coming from a trusted brand with at least some level of after-sale support (compared to none, which happens all too often with no-name brands).
I doubt it. These Liva boxes normally sell as “kits” requiring a little snap-together assembly, suggesting they are for enthusiast markets. And while you can set legacy boot the eMMC device becomes a waste-expense. Just leave it off and lower the price or put a small SSD in the package.
Not true, as long as you don’t run Windows on these minimally configured lower-end little boxes. The dual-core 2.1~2.4GHz Celeron N2830 is a decent performer for the money with as low as 2GB SDRAM and most any 32-bit Linux/Unix distro (not 64-bit with such little SDRAM). But it is getting a bit long in the tooth. The N2830 does support hardware H.264 accel & VT-x (if you have more SDRAM, 8GB is max.). The devil however lives in the details: Make sure your peripheral drivers are supported in Linux/Unix before buying. These chips vary by board/system manufacturer. But usually the manufacterers of boxes like these pay attention to things like that because they know these devices often do NOT run Windows.
I have N2820 NUC which I installed Xubuntu on. It ran horribly. Graphics driver was horrible that I couldn’t watch 1080p videos on it. I recently re-installed into Windows 10 and it runs unbelievably well. I mean, I was shocked. Like you said, the bottleneck is in the driver support. However, Windows 10 has been running well on a lot of machines lately. Linux, not so much.
Linux drivers just take longer and might never be as good. They typically become quite workable after a little time though. Linux lacks the centralized multi-billion dollar business incentive to make sure those drivers work decently. An affinity Microsoft and Intel share for each other.
The new Linux graphics installer from Intel at 01.org notes that Intel Atom N2600 and N2800 series integrated graphics are not supported. The installer is for *buntu 15.10 and Fedora 22 but I would imagine it means there isn’t a proper Linux driver for those. This has been the fastest turn-around time for a graphics installer from Intel. You just have to be extra vigilant about checking out supported hardware before spending your money when using Linux.
Windows has improved on lower performance machines since Vista, 2GB RAM isn’t a problem (sure, there will be things where more RAM is a benefit or even necessity, but running Linux don’t magically change that).
Liva models do not come with win 10 making them non competitive in price with similar options from other manufacturers.
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