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AMD's Turion 64 on the Desktop 123

Toasty16 writes "SPCR has an overview of using an AMD Turion 64 mobile processor in a desktop system. There's a good bit of info about motherboard compatibility and power consumption as compared to a Pentium M processor. There's also links to articles from the Techreport and LaptopLogic on the same topic. If you've been thinking about building a low power HTPC or file server, mobile processor on desktop is an interesting option."
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AMD's Turion 64 on the Desktop

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  • ...or use a Via chip (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Paul Bristow ( 118584 ) <.ten.wotsirbluap. .ta. .luap.> on Monday February 20, 2006 @09:16AM (#14760661) Homepage
    I have used fanless Via C3 chips for several years now. One is running a Linux Fileserver at home, the other a DVB multi-tuner PVR.

    Last I saw they are on the C7 chip. Not so famous as AMD, but for certain tasks, get the job done nicely.

    • Via's Mini-ITX motherboards are best described as adequate. I built myself an M10000-based mini-desktop a while back and while it is useable for web browsing, word processing etc, it certainly doesn't blow me away.

      A desktop pc with a decent performance, but low power requirements, really appeals to me - the idea of cranking up a 3+GHz PC with half a gig or more of RAM just to write a letter or pick up email seems terribly wasteful.

    • Interesting. Do you think a Via chip could power a MythTV server?
      • Myth TV server

        Not if you want it to do encode/decode. It's a barely adequate media player. I use it for a DVB PVR where everything stays in digital bitstreams.

        For fileserving/streaming/proxy/asterix VoIP/webserver/VPN etc for SOHO it's absolutely fine.

        • I concur, partially. I've got an M10000 (modded fanless) which works fine for DVB but you'll need to invest in a hardware encoder. Decoding works just fine for every format I use, however :)

          P
      • A pure "backend only" server?

        Definately. Backend-only servers, if configured correctly, will use little to no CPU. (Unless you want to transcode from MPEG2 to MPEG4 at a lower bitrate after recording.) If recording MPEG2 from either a hardware MPEG encoder (Hauppauge PVR-150/250/350/500 for example) or an HDTV tuner card (pcHDTV HD-3000, AirStar HD5000, etc), all the system has to do is shuffle data between the card and hard drive. My PVR-350 used at most 1% of my Athlon XP 2800+ when recording, my PVR-
        • i'm pretty sure that in a 'modern' pc all video decoding is handled on the video card. that's why when you try to 'screen grab' you just get a pink or blue image all the decoding is being done by the video card. so as long as you have a gpu capable of decoding HD video, and a media player that supports hardware decoding, the cpu overhead should be pretty low.
          • Not true (Score:5, Informative)

            by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {cornell.edu}> on Monday February 20, 2006 @10:04AM (#14760923) Homepage
            Modern video cards accelerate a decent portion of MPEG-2 playback, but you still need a decent amount of CPU.

            I think with the most recent video cards, it's something like 50/50.

            Note: I'm not counting hardware resolution scaling here. Output scaling is one aspect of video playback that is historically EXTREMELY CPU-hungry, but has been supported in hardware on any video card made in the past decade or more. Even with hardware scaling, you need a 2-3 GHz+ CPU to play back high def MPEG-2, and additional HW acceleration (IDCT, MoComp) offloads 20-30% at best. VIA's video chipsets offload much more of MPEG-2 playback than most other video cards, but until the CN400 series, they were only able to offload standard def content. (90% of hardware MPEG decoders on the market only support MPEG-2 MP@ML, i.e. standard def content. MP@HL decoders for high def content are rare and expensive.)
            • well, even with a 50% reduction that does make playback more feasible on slower cpus. and you assertions on high def, are they '1080p' high def? or what? remember that there are a number of sets out there that don't even support 720p, and finding one that supports 1080p will cost an armload, and 720p is about 2x superior for 'action' video than 1080i, so all things considered, shouldn't we be considering what the processing requirements of decoding 720p video is? since realistically without breaking the ba
              • and might even be able to handle 1080i, although 1080p should be out of it's league...

                1080i and 1080p are equivalent in terms of computing requirements. 1080i is half the frame size but double the frames. 1080p is double the frame size but half the frames. If anything 1080i becomes more compute intensive when you try to de-interlace it and reconstruct full res frames.
                • well in that case all my calculations are all off, as i had assumed that interlaced video had the same frame rate as progressive video.

                  since initial dvd specs were 480i (720x480) that means i needlessly halved the number of pixels being processed... or if i got the pixels correct, but that progressive scan footage is really at 15 fps, instead of the 30 fps that interlaced video is at... then the processing requirement drops sharply for progressive scan, to being slightly below what interlaced video requires
            • You need a 2-3 GHz+ CPU to play back high def MPEG-2

              My Athlon 1800+ (1.5Ghz) seems to cope fine when playing back HD video. Am I missing something?

              Rik

              • My Athlon 1800+ (1.5Ghz) seems to cope fine when playing back HD video. Am I missing something?

                Nope. VLC (all software decode, no hardware assist except YUV->RGB in the overlay) will playback 720/1080i mpeg2 just fine on that guy. Now WM9 or h.264, it is a whole different story. VLC on 2.3GHz Athlon just barely plays back WM9 1920x1080p material, skipping once every few minutes.

                • WMP10 plays back WM9 720p content with no skipped frames. CPU usage averages around 80%. My gfx card is a Radeon X800XL AGP. The resolution of the video I've been trying with is 1280x720.

                  1080p video means skipped frames: 1440x1080 is too much. My monitor's resolution is 1280x1024, so I'll be avoiding such demanding video.

                  VLC doesn't seem to want to play these videos - I suppose I'll need to update codecs or something equally exciting.

                  • VLC doesn't seem to want to play these videos - I suppose I'll need to update codecs or something equally exciting.

                    VLC won't play the copy-restricted stuff (you have to pay MS big bucks just to use MS's own DRM-enforcing codecs from your own software player (player binary has to be 'inspected' and crypto-signed by MS), there is no chance that MS would bless an independent implementation like VLC).

                    BTW, VLC's codecs are all pretty much self-contained, unlike the whole directx system in windows itself, so if
                    • Updating VLC got the WM9 video working. Interestingly, VLC uses around 90% CPU, vs. around 80% for WMP10. Thanks for the info!
              • Depends on your video card, depends on your exact playback configuration (type of deinterlacing desired/used, etc).

                A 1.7 GHz P4 won't cut it even with MoComp and IDCT. It doesn't even come close - I've tried.
                A 2 GHz P4 will barely do the job with MoComp and IDCT acceleration.
                If you want acceptable quality deinterlacing (The hardware deinterlacing offered by XvMC is awful, or at least it was a year ago), I haven't heard of anyone pulling it off with less than a 2.8 GHz P4 with HyperThreading.

                Of course, Athl
            • You're mostly right. But, especially in the VIA C3 world, there are more capable options. The VIA/S3 Unichrome video chips include full MPEG2 Decoders. So, it goes beyond the MPEG2 acceleration, and does almost all the MPEG2 processing in hardware.

              This can allow a very slow processor, like the VIA C3, to be used in a HDTV PVR, like MythTV.

              But, for the mainstream NVidia or ATI GPUs, you're right.. they do iDCT+MC offload, not full MPEG2 processing.
            • The DXR3 is a fun card to play with. Hardware accelerated MPEG-2 playback.
            • Even with hardware scaling, you need a 2-3 GHz+ CPU to play back high def MPEG-2,

              Well, maybe for Intel CPUs, or perhaps on Windows (which is a dog on video). My 1.66GHz Athlon (using MPlayer with -vo gl, GeForce 440mx) has no problem with 1080i/p MPEG-2, using up about 40% CPU-time. Whereas hardware decoding with XVMC takes up 30% CPU time. 1080 WMV9 with binary DLLs maxes out the CPU, and 1080 H.264 needs a few hundred MHz more than my system can give :-( but I believe optimizations to the codec will ma

              • They offload some of the processing, but they'll still take up a hefty chunk of CPU.

                I'm talking about 100% hardware MPEG decoders that take an MPEG stream in and give video out, such as the decoder on MyHD MDP-1x0 series cards. (Unfortunately not supported under Linux.) The only CPU those will use is that required to shift a stream from your hard drive to the card.
                • I'm talking about 100% hardware MPEG decoders that take an MPEG stream in and give video out, such as the decoder on MyHD MDP-1x0 series cards.

                  Then why, in the next sentence of the paragraph or so, do you talk about the CN400, which is an XVMC videocard card, and not a "100% hardware MPEG decoder"?
                  • Simple. The Via Unichromes go WAY beyond XvMC. They're not quite the "full blown" MPEG decoders that take an MPEG stream in and pipe video out, but unlike basic XvMC video cards (which accelerate IDCT, MoComp, and scaling, to the tune of 30-50% reduction in CPU load), they accelerate more MPEG functionality, in the end offloading 80-90% or more of the MPEG-2 decoding tasks.

                    In the process of tying to "bite off" more of the MPEG-2 processing load, they are subject to the same restrictions as most of the ful
          • by Anonymous Coward
            No. You're thinking of overlays, which lets the card handle how the video gets put onto the screen and offers things like hardware accelerated stretching and colour conversion. There's no actual video decoding being done by the hardware, the card is just reading pixel data from its video memory and putting it on the screen. It's upto the rest of the system to decode that video into a format that the card can display.

            Just to confuse you even further, some cards do include hardware video decoders, usuall
          • That has to do with how the video is being placed on screen, not where it's being decoded. The video is processed seperately from regular video content, with some stuff being done by the video card, but the majority being done by the CPU. The image is then overlaid over the regular video as it is processed. That doesn't mean that the main CPU isn't the major processor being utilized.
          • BAD MODS! NO COOKIE!

            i'm pretty sure that in a 'modern' pc all video decoding is handled on the video card.

            Yes, well, you're an idiot for being so sure, even though you're COMPLETELY WRONG. Sorry, but that's the way it is.

            Many videocards now have MPEG-2 decoding built-in, but that's not computing-free at all... For instance, a 300MHz system wouldn't be able to playback 1080 MPEG-2 video, even with XVMC hardware acceleration.

            Plus, as I've been saying a lot lately, there is a cross-over point, where hardwar

        • You might as well just use a Turion =) They're quick, cheap, use hardly any power, and can use nearly any Socket 754 board.
    • Details? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bradleyland ( 798918 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @09:56AM (#14760882)
      Any chance of getting some part numbers or manufacturers for that system?

      The need for cooler running desktops has surpassed the need for faster desktops in the case of most of my customers. They like to browse the internet, write email, and play bridge online, but rarely render anything in 3D, encode much media, or play any games. They'd rather stuff the computer in a cabinet and not have to stare at it.

      In the latter part of last year, we replaced three Dells that cooked themselves inside a cabinet, and have at least three more where the customer complains of frequent crashes. We're almost certain that heat is the issue. All Dell will do is send us new case fans.

      We've tried cutting vent holes in the desks too. Short of an active fan based ventilation system, it appears that a fast system is not suited for life inside an enclosed cabinet. Enter the need for something not quite as fast, but cooler and quieter.
      • Re:Details? (Score:2, Informative)

        Have a look at www.mini-itx.com [mini-itx.com] - they tend to stock Via integrated motherboards. That might be a good jumping-off point.
        • Jumping off point indeed. They stock virtually all of VIA's mini-ITX parts. From what I read in this Tom's Hardware Mini-ITX roundup [tomshardware.com], I think that the newer C3 hardware should work just fine. I'm a bit concerned that the older stuff would have a hard time meeting my customer's needs. DVD playback is a kind of baseline for required performance IMO.

          I think I'll make a SP 130000 based system my next project. If the dollars and cents work out, this may find its way into my inventory.
          • Some of the boards have hardware acceleration for video work, and Via have released a version of Xine modified to take advantage of said hardware. If you're planning to use Linux have a look for the Via Enhanced Xine Player project on Sourceforge, with the caveat that I haven't tried compiling it myself and can't vouch for how well it works.
    • I have used fanless Via C3 chips for several years

      I used their Joshua and Samuel chips for a few weeks nearly became a praying man --
      waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

      Some of the prime95 type benchmarks for those ex-Cyrix chips ran 2 week tests at a
      20 year pace.

      For way cool, change the bus speed of a 866MHz P3 down to 100MHz or 66MHz.

    • I'm not sure why more people aren't interested in the VIA offerrings, unless it's the typical "I want something exotic and fast, but still low powered". If you want truly low power VIA is a better way to go. Sure the CPUs aren't as fast, but they're fast enough to play back MP3s and video. And if you're encoding video on your HTPC you're going to rely on the tuner/encoder card for that processing. To me it seems like a no-brainer.
      • I am writing this on a VIA C3 machine running at 866. While I suspect that my memory config may be sub-optimal (128+128+512, 512+512 would probably be better) this machine is *not* fast enough to play videos.
        It is quiet (passive cooling) but it is low powered in both senses.

        Still, for most other purposes it is plenty fast enough.

        What I don't understand with this Turion story is why AMD are not pushing desktop usage for this processor themselves. This is the one area AMD are really perceived as being behin
        • by default luser ( 529332 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @01:55PM (#14762572) Journal
          What I don't understand with this Turion story is why AMD are not pushing desktop usage for this processor themselves.

          They already are. Did you even read the review? Turion processors are low-voltage Athlon 64 processors. They run at 1.35v for the ML line at full speed, 1.2v for the MT line at full speed, and 0.9v at 800 MHz idle.

          The "Newcastle" core they compared the Turion to is VERY OLD, 0.13 micron, with an operating voltage of 1.5v. The Turions are based on a second-generation, highly refined 0.09 micron process. So are all of AMD's current desktop processors.

          Modern desktop Socket 939 Athlon 64 single-core processors use the Venice and San Diego cores, which are based on the same process as the Turions, and are VERY LOW POWER. Venice chips run at 1.35v, the same as the Turion ML, and with Cool 'n Quiet enabled, they idle at 1GHz with 1.1v, for a power usage of ~ 4w. So, expect equivilantly-clocked Athlon 64s to use the same power as Turion MLs.

          I thought this review was a stupid waste of time, and here is why:

          1. They originally stated they did the review because Socket 754 motherboards could be found cheap, and thus you could make a cheap, powerful and low-power box. But the MSI RS482M-IL they settled on sells for more in the $70-80 range. Socket 939 boards can be had for that.

          2. The Turion ML is no lower-power than its desktop counterparts (except in idle, but the difference is so small it only matters to a notebook), but it has a price premium of about $80 for the same performance level. For example (from Pricewatch), the Socket 939 3200+ sells for around $140, and the Turion ML-40 (its performance equivilant) sells for around $230. The MT-40 has an even higher premium, costing an additional $40 over the ML-40.

          Oh, and a few quick answers to your questions:

          They can't just sell everyone Turion MTs. Those cores are cherry-picked for low-voltage operation, and they are in much shorter supply than the ML / desktop voltage chips.

          And the single memory channel on the Turion was the obvious choice. Dual memory channels would require every Turion notebook to ship with two sticks of DDR1. As I have mentioned earlier, the DDR2 used on the Pentium M platform is a lot lower power than DDR1. Thus, with a single channel, AMD has encouraged manufacturers to use only a single stick. Later this year, when AMD moves to DDR2, expect to see dual-channel memory on the Turions.
        • I am writing this on a VIA C3 machine running at 866. While I suspect that my memory config may be sub-optimal (128+128+512, 512+512 would probably be better) this machine is *not* fast enough to play videos.

          Really? I was able to play back video on my K6-III 450 MHz system. What video chipset are you using? Does it have hardware assisted MPEG playback?
    • Last I saw they are on the C7 chip. Not so famous as AMD, but for certain tasks, get the job done nicely.

      For certain tasks, I can't argue with you.

      The nice thing about a low-power Pentium-M or AMD Turion CPU on an ATX or mini-ATX MB is expandability (a.k.a., PCI slots) and form factor (a.k.a., easily fits in an ATX case).

      For example, if you're building a RAID file server, you can easily install an ATX MB into a tower case, plug-in a PCI raid card and drives and you're good to go. Plenty of room and good ve
      • The nice thing about a low-power Pentium-M or AMD Turion CPU on an ATX or mini-ATX MB is expandability (a.k.a., PCI slots) and form factor (a.k.a., easily fits in an ATX case).

        Absolutely. The C3's I have are on standard ATX mobos for exactly this reason - I used to use a Crusoe but it died. I love to see elegant design, and low-power chips for those who aren't running Quake4 are a great idea.

        My desktop PC for home is an AMD64x2, and I am very impressed how quiet that is and how cool it stays in id
    • I've been wondering about the Via C3 chip. How well does it benchmark on MySQL.

      I'm starting to learn the database and want to run it for personal use (single user) and there would eventually be a 'large' number of records say 100,000+. Would a C3 with a Gig of RAM run this quite well. For one, I like the fact that its fanless.
  • Enjoying it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I have been using a turion based PC for a little while. For what I do (no gaming) it has been brilliant. Its good to see that there are other people writing articles about using Mobile chips on their desktop.
  • XP-M (Score:4, Informative)

    by imboboage0 ( 876812 ) <imboboage0@gmail.com> on Monday February 20, 2006 @09:22AM (#14760689) Homepage
    I've been using Mobile Athlon XPs for a couple years now. Picked it up on the premise that they ran cooler, on lower voltages, and didn't have a multiplier cap. Worked wonders for hitting an 800MHz overclock on air (2.0 to 2.8). They also seem to work in all the mobos i tried, although some needed a BIOS flash.
    • Me too!

      I have been using a barton cope Athlon XP-M on a Via KT266A motherboard for over a year. My motherboard had no bios update to support greater than 13x multiplier.
      So Instead I wire wrapped a few pins on the CPU to force a 16x multiplier. Overclock is very stable and as the previous poster said, runs very power frugal (low voltage, low heat).
      • I had to do the same thing! My Biostar M7NCD Pro wouldnt let me go past 12.5x, so i just put in some really small wires between the pin holes on the mobo. worked wonders. Definitely made an excellent budget overclocker.
  • neato-keen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eekygeeky ( 777557 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @09:22AM (#14760692)
    I love the idea of low power, high-concept CPUs on desktop machines.

    I love the fact that these chips are 754 pin and thus compatible with an existing socket- motherboard manufacturers won't have to ramp up any new hardware to start selling boards for these in every color of the rainbow.

    Turion Shuttles/insert small FF MB here/, anyone?

    and there are loads of legacy boards available. Socket 754 boards are dirt cheap. here's a handy list of compatibles from the article:

    http://angelfall.s39.xrea.com/area2ch/turion-e.htm l [xrea.com]

    I would have jumped all over the P M, except there was no desktop gear for it; unless I bought a notebook PC and did some expensive hacking, which, ad publicae geekio, is a contradiction in terms.

    score +one for AMD.
    • Re:neato-keen (Score:3, Interesting)

      by j-cloth ( 862412 )
      I had no idead they would have make the Turions compatible with older 754 MBs. Back to the laptop world here, I have a Compaq (R3000z) with what is basically a desktop Athlon 64 chip (Clawhammer 3200+). Any theories on possible gains from swapping in a Turion?

      The possibility of cutting CPU power by 75% while gaining SSE3 support, VMware 64bit guest compatibility and possibly some performance seems like a good reason to pull out the screwdriver.

      Thoughts?
      • Re:neato-keen (Score:3, Informative)

        by eekygeeky ( 777557 )
        That's a good question- unless that Compaq board was designed by a far-thinking engineer, it probably won't support the CPU automatically. if it diod, our you can find a BIOS update, then I'd expect you'd cut your CPU chip power consumption in half and heat transfer energy costs correspondingly. that's a $250 experiment, though, and getting it out of the notebook might be a challenge- the heatsink is integral to the case/motherboard and often glued on to the core. disassemble methodically and carefully.
      • I also have an R3000Z and it is absolutely merciless on the battery when I've got to use it as a laptop (rather than as a desktop replacement). It's a very powerful and relatively cheap laptop though. If such an upgrade was possible, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

    • I would have jumped all over the P M, except there was no desktop gear for it; unless I bought a notebook PC and did some expensive hacking...

      If by "P M" you meant Pentium M, then there definitely are desktop motherboards, barebones, and complete desktop systems for this platform. The selection is small compared to the apparent selection of Socket 754/Turion solutions, but the Pentium M desktop gear is definitely there.

      Examples:

      • When the first, as you correctly assumed, Pentium M chips hit the market, there were not compatible desktop boards-that came later. PMs came in OEM notebooks and were, I feel, a stealth way of Intel apologizing for ditching the veddy nice PIII architecture. but they certainly didn't come ready to go for Sock370 or 462 or anything.

        consumer/builder options for the chip were non-existant, so I kind of crossed it of my list, you know? there is a socket converter that allows you you to hack a P M to some socket
    • The reason these chips are pin-for-pin compatible is because they aren't any different. Turion is just a marketing name. You're getting a regular Venice (or whatever) core and so of course it comes in the regular package.

      I do think making desktops from laptop processors is a good idea, but in this case, you're not actually doing anything different, just using different words for the same thing.

      Intel currently does have separate desktop (P4) and laptop (P-M/Core Duo) processors, but they're about to switch t
  • by PoconoPCDoctor ( 912001 ) <jpclyons@gmail.com> on Monday February 20, 2006 @09:28AM (#14760720) Homepage Journal

    Speaking just to the power-savings benefit of using a mobile CPU in a home system, unless you are running a home server, the best way to conserve power in any PC would be to turn it off.

    This link notes one person's cost [codinghorror.com] of leaving systems powered up, a little more than $23.00 USD per month.

    So boot it up each morning, make the coffee and toast, and by the time you sit back down in front of Unbuntu, Mandriva, BSD, SUSE or that friendly chair-throwing group from Redmond, you can feel better about not burning up more oil to play solitaire (YOU'RE FIRED).

    • Speaking just to the power-savings benefit of using a mobile CPU in a home system, unless you are running a home server, the best way to conserve power in any PC would be to turn it off.

      And to get just slightly off-topic, it enhances your PC's security. Kind of hard to use a PC for a botnet if it's off.

    • For those who have a domain name and IP bound to there home systems, they're probably running 365/7. Minimizing the power consumption with a mobile CPU is a good start, as the article points out. There are other avenues for power reduction: do you really need that GeForce 7800? If so, can it be powered off when not in use? How about those 15000rpm mirrored disks? Perhaps 4200rpm is a bit slow, so you have to make tradeoffs. There are plenty of compromises that can be made in building such a system.

      • That's why the parent post said "unless you're running a home server."
      • they're probably running 365/7.

        What?

        ...

        What????

      • What would be interesting is if someone would build into the next generation of graphics cards a power-saving mode, much like AMD's badly-named "Cool-n-Quiet," so it consumes much less power when not needed. This would be especially beneficial for machines that aren't used for 3D gaming (many home computers and most business machines).

        I usually have my machine at home on while I'm at work, and while I sleep, as it's generally downloading something from somewhere; turning it off isn't usually an option.
        • This already exists. Modern Nvidia cards reduce their core clcok speed and voltage when not doing 3D, and ATI cards reduce both their core and memory clock & voltages when not doing 3D.

          For example, my 6600 GT runs at 500 MHz during 3D games, but it clocks down to 300 MHz and a reduced voltage in 2D operation. The power consumption is reduced by half in 2D.

          These are technologies adapted from their mobile chips, although they're not as aggressive as the power saving modes of those mobile chips. I do wo
          • I think it'd be interesting to see a really aggressive version of that. Does the computer know when the monitor is off? If it does, let the graphics card power down completely. If your computer is downloading something overnight or whatever, just shut the whole graphics bit down and let the rest of the computer do its thing. This may be possible with other devices in the machine, too - audio card off if speakers are off and no headphones plugged in, etc. We've definitely not seen a big push for energy effic
    • The problem is that people running home servers are becoming more and more common.

      These CPUs would be great for machines such as home mail servers and MythTV backends, except for the fact that many such home server machines have lots of HD storage, and the power usage of the CPUs becomes small at idle compared to the power usage of the HDs.
    • I recall being taught that most of the wear on a power supply happens when you turn it on or turn it off. So factor in the energy used to make the new power supplies you'll need more often. Lessee, how many watt-seconds does it take to turn ore into a pound of copper wire?

      (Joking: I've been wishing that a couple of boxes would produce *more* heat last weekend, when we had 2F at 30mph hitting that northside room they're in. Hey, resistance heat is 100% efficient. Guess I should install SETI@Home or fold
    • I don't agree with the $23/month figure.

      My power bill is split into two parts, HVAC and everything else. "Everything else" includes two computers running, lights, TV, monitor, refrigerator, stove, microwave, toaster oven, various battery chargers, DVR, laser printer, etc. (The computers run full time, the laser only runs when I need it, and everything else has a fairly normal usage pattern.) That part of my bill is always $22 or $23 per month. When I started running the second computer continuously, I l
    • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @10:53AM (#14761239)
      I was running two very old machines for fileservering and routing/firewall duties. My estimate put these machines at about ~$30-40/mo to run depending on what I was doing. I was able to drop this down by about half moving to a mini ITX board with the via C3 processor, and it only cost about $150. I could have spent less, but I upgraded the power supplies as well.

      You can easily measure how much power your computer draws with a multimeter from the hardware store - last time I was there I saw them for about $10. Put the meter on the AC amps scale, make sure the wires are plugged into the amp reading ports, and then wire it in series with your computer.

      I guarantee you'll be suprised. I was.
      • You can easily measure how much power your computer draws with a multimeter from the hardware store - last time I was there I saw them for about $10. Put the meter on the AC amps scale, make sure the wires are plugged into the amp reading ports, and then wire it in series with your computer.

        Yieks, that's about as bright as sticking a fork in the electric socket for most people. For crying out loud, buy something like this [ahernstore.com] and don't kill yourself, thank you.

      • by drgould ( 24404 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @12:00PM (#14761754)
        You can easily measure how much power your computer draws with a multimeter from the hardware store - last time I was there I saw them for about $10. Put the meter on the AC amps scale, make sure the wires are plugged into the amp reading ports, and then wire it in series with your computer.

        Don't forget, what you're measuring is apparent power [wikipedia.org], which is really volt-amps [wikipedia.org]. Computer power supplies have a significant power factor [wikipedia.org], so what you really want to do is measure the corrected real power which is in watts [wikipedia.org].

        Go to ThinkGeek and pick up a Kill-A-Watt [thinkgeek.com], which will not only tell you how many watts your computer actually consumes, but also things like power-factor and kilowatt-hours [wikipedia.org], which is a much more accurate measure of power consumption.
        • Most switching power supplies are very efficient and take power factor into consideration. There are some high-end units that approach ~0.99+. I would imagine most to be around ~0.85.

          My point being for $10 you can get an acceptable measure of your computer's power draw. Do be careful, though. :)
          • Most switching power supplies are very efficient and take power factor into consideration. There are some high-end units that approach ~0.99+. I would imagine most to be around ~0.85.

            Beware of assumptions!

            Remeasuring the power consumption of my (2 year old) Pentium IV in an Antec case w/Antec SmartPower PS, I read a PF of about 0.7, 120 watts and 180 volt-amps.

            Measuring an old, old AMD system with a generic case and PS shows a PF of about 0.63, 90 watts and 135 volt-amps.

            I'd bet that your "two very old mach

            • I'd bet that your "two very old machines" don't have a PF anywhere near 0.85.


              Nope, that's why they're in the inductor donor bin. :)

              I agree with you, but I'm just saying a cheap meter is good enough for an indication one way or the other - for example, what's the difference between folding@home and idle. The $30 meter ends up being a lot more for someone like me who isn't in a major center OR the USA.

            • I just wanted to point out that a significant portion of newer PSUs are designed to European standards which dictates how much Distortion and PF a device can have, rather than US where Utilities dictate the acceptable levels at point of common coupling. The short of it is that several companies have Switchmode PSU's that are low harmonic pollution and can have a PF >= 1 Pretty neat.
        • For those of you that want to purchase a Kill-A-Watt for less than what ThinkGeek is charging, and from someone that has it in stock, check out Froogle [google.com]
      • If you consider a system with a constant draw of 300 watts for 24 hours and 30 days (since your bill is most likely covers only 30) you get 216 kilowatthours a bill. At 7.1 cents (Department of Energies average cost per kwh) you get $15.33. That is a huge system with a high load and constant usage, so these numbers are very pessimistic. When considering average usage of a system that is less efficient but also less expensive, I can't see where you are saving any money in a in home scenario.
        • Maybe the grandparent poster lives in a country where electrical energy is more expensive than in the US. It sure is in my country - about $0.25 per kWh these days, and likely to increase. Most of that is energy tax, designed to make us consume less energy (and milk some money out of us). Still has to be payed, though.
          This will lead to at least tripling (sp?) the energy cost, and then the savings becomes substantial.

          Even if the savings is just $10 per month, this will let you amortize a couple of hundred bu
    • Here is the problem as I understand it. Things should turn on and off based on various conditions.

      This problem matches the fundamental function of digital electronics. Your contention that I should do something is silly. The task at hand is easy, yet tedious. You described a design flaw that has an obvious electronic solution. A machine should do it.
    • Bittorrent..
    • Speaking just to the power-savings benefit of using a mobile CPU in a home system, unless you are running a home server, the best way to conserve power in any PC would be to turn it off.

      First of all, there are a great many things that need to be always-on. Even if you make a habbit of turning your computer off, there will always be numerous times that a large slow download or something else will require you to leave your system running. Many people also have computers set-up as DVRs now, which can't be sh

      • Digital Video Recorders may not be able to be completely switched off but they can be hibernated until needed. I run GBPVR under winxp on a AthlonXP2500+ powered Shuttle box.

        This hibernates itself if it is not doing anytihng for 5mins and then wakes itself up the next time some comes on to be recorded.

        t

  • by BigTimOBrien ( 203674 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @09:44AM (#14760808) Homepage
    I've had a great experience with Turion 64 chips in a laptop. High frame rate on graphics-intensive applications and, in general, good responsiveness even when running a whole boat load of RAM and CPU-heavy apps like Eclipse and Server JVM. I've used these chips from the ML-26 to the ML-44, and the cost/benefit analysis of AMD Turions versus the alternative just makes more sense. For the dollar, it seems like I can get 30% more performance in the apps I care to run.

    But, Turion 64 on a desktop, not quite so fast, if performance is important to you, why go to all the trouble to install a mobile CPU? Either turn the thing off at night or drive less.
    • But, Turion 64 on a desktop, not quite so fast, if performance is important to you, why go to all the trouble to install a mobile CPU?

      One word.

      Silence.

      Having that damn box stop buzzing whatever the situation is, and be it winter or summer, not hearing it, shutting it up altogether while keeping acceptable (or even good) performances.

      Not even knowing whether the computer is on or off without watching the leds.

      Silence in a computer, it's an endless quest, and it's addictive. Once you start lowering the

      • I've been looking for this holy grail for quite some time and finally found the mCubed [mcubed-tech.com].

        Cheaper than a hush (read: affordable).
        Athlon64/Turion or Pentium-M on standard ATX or MicroATX boards.
        Fanless.

        I can only recommend it to anyone looking for total silence.

        You should obviously not run your uber-highend 3d card in it (well not without spending some more bucks on extra heatpipes - or adding a fan, which kinda defeats the purpose) but other than that it performs pretty darn well for a system that you cannot h
    • Question. I'm interested in laptops, but one of my top priorities is low heat production during normal usage. I actually use laptops as literal laptops, so it's a big deal to me.

      How's the heat on your machine?

      (It's surprisingly difficult to get this information. People are starting to care but you still will only hear about heat production in a laptop if it's extremely high, leaving the entire range between "extremely low" and "high" uncovered. Unless someone can point me at a good source of info?)

      I'm OK wi
    • But, Turion 64 on a desktop, not quite so fast
      The politically correct term is "Turiano 64"
  • I was wondering why SPCR wasn't working.
  • They placed a huge hunk of copper with a large noisy fan on that chip. That doesn't make for a Silent PC.

    I would have liked to see some testing with a fanless heat sink.

    I've got a 800Mhz via mini-itx board that i use for a mythbox. I didn't buy it for low-power, i bought it for silent operation. Nobody wants a noisy PC in their lounge when they're chatting with friends. And your friends certainly dont appreciate the noise the next morning sleeping in the lounge with a hangover.

    The C3 chip is pleanty power
  • by ponos ( 122721 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @12:59PM (#14762206)
    I'm currently running my Athlon64 3200+ at 1GHz (VCore also lowered by a significant amount). The clock frequency never jumps above 1000 while I'm writing text, browsing, listening to MP3s (or all of these together). As a matter of fact, you need to really pound the machine to force it to go above 1GHz. The power consumption is very very low and the CPU temperature is almost equal to the case temperature (should be less than 40C for the CPU right now).

    Installing and running cpufreq is relatively easy and the savings are considerable. For newbie linux users I have an explanatory step-by-step post http://pkt3141592.blogspot.com/2005/07/fun-with-li nux-cpufreq-driver.html [blogspot.com] on the subject in my (almost abandoned) blog.

    Running a Turion is a hard-core option, but PowerNow should be enabled in ALL Athlon64 desktops.

    P.

    • Right, this "test" was pointless. Turion ML cores use the exact same voltage as desktop processors at load, and use about 1 watt less at idle (but for that, you also only get 800 MHz operation at idle, versus the desktop Athlon 64 at 1 GHz).

      The lack of compatibility with older Socket 754 boards means this is of limited utility for upgraders. I mean, what's the point of "upgrading" when your board can't activate PowerNOW! on the Turion? It will use less power under load, but use more under idle than a New
  • I went out and bought my Athlon 64 3200+ when they first came out. It's the original Socket 754 variet. AMD has long since moved on from that socket, and have stopped upgrading those chips.

    So, the Socket 754 mobile chips might be another upgrade path for those of us that don't want to swap out the whole motherboard.

    They would have the added benefit of lower power/heat characteristics. This would be nice, since I'm using my current A64 in a MythTV HTPC.
  • by sm8000 ( 780163 )
    Without having RTFA or the replies, I present the above question. Venice doesn't consume more than 30 watts from what I read. See this thread: http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid =29&threadid=1780053&enterthread=y [anandtech.com]
    • There is no advantage over ML cores, and hell, we've known the Athlon 64 desktop can operate under 30w full-load since the release of the Winchester core. In fact, I bought a Winchester core when they were released because of the low power consumption.

      Here is an early test of the Winchester's DC power consumption. [tomshardware.com] Note that these cores have even lower power consumption than the Turions tested because they use a smaller cache (512k versus 1MB).

      The MT cores have a slight advantage over desktop processors, b
  • If you're looking for low power firewall machine, you should really look at Soekris: http://soekris.com/ [soekris.com]

    They are fantastic small machines/boards that are perfect for that kind of job and they works great with *BSD and Linux.

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