More Intel Atom Goodies From Overseas

In keeping with the trend of Intel Atom-based product announcements coming from Europe and Asia, U.K.-based Tranquil PC has announced yet more Atom-based products: The T7-HSAi and the T2-WHS-A3i--updates to Tranquil PC's fanless chassis-based Microsoft Windows Home Servers--both powered by 1.6GHz Atom 230 processors.

Tranquil PC is pitching improved performance and low power consumption as the major benefits to switching its designs over to Atom processors. As servers are always-on devices and energy prices keep rising, power consumption is a legitimate concern for many users. Tranquil PC claims that the new Atom-based designs can save a minimum of £32.00 ($63 U.S.) per year in electricity costs, "when compared to other Home Server appliances."

The T7-HSAi is an "ultra compact" home server, designed to be placed in out-of-the-way areas, such as closets; and it can even be wall mounted. It's price starts at £278 ($551 U.S.) with 512MB of memory and a 500GB hard drive; it can be configured with up to 1GB of RAM and 1TB of internal hard disk storage space. Four USB 2.0 ports allow for additional external storage.

The T2WHS-A3i can also be wall-mounted or stored out of sight, but its more refined design with a black satin finish and blue LEDs is intended for a more visible installation, such as mounted in a 19-inch media rack. It's price starts at £299 ($592 U.S.) with 512MB of memory and a 500GB hard drive; it can be configured with up to 1GB of RAM and 2TB of internal hard disk storage space. As with the T7-HSAi, the T2WHS-A3i also has four USB 2.0 ports for additional external storage. However, the T2WHS-A3i also includes two PCI slots, which can be configured with up to two eSATA controller cards with support for up to an additional eight eSATA drives.

The amount of processing power needed to support data backups, shared storage, and remote access is not terribly taxing. Using a low-power processor such as the Atom, which can help minimize energy consumption, and reduce heat and noise, is a smart implementation of Intel's new chip. Tranquil PC claims that its two media servers generate only 17dBA or 21dBA in noise, depending on how they are configured. The company also claims that the base configuration of both units consumes only 29 watts of power.

Windows Home Servers have not caught on much in terms of popularity yet, and so far appeal to only a niche market. The only major players to date in the U.S. who sell pre-configured Windows Home Servers are HP and Velocity Micro. HP's current implementation is powered by a 1.8GHz AMD Sempron 3100+, and Velocity Micro's uses a 1.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2140 processor. The 3100+ consumes 62 watts of power, while the E2140 consumes 65 watts. The Atom 230 consumes only 4 watts. If Windows Home Servers in fact become more popular, manufacturers would be wise to consider powering them with the Atom.
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