At first glimpse, the Intel D410PT, codenamed “Packton,” is simply unimpressive, plain (yawn). The Intel D510MO, codenamed “Mount Olive,” is like the older sibling who, at the very least, plays on the varsity basketball team, but warms the bench most of the time—no one even knows the kid’s last name. We would pass over these two with glazed eyes, looking for something a little more exciting, like the tall brunette playing center. But, we should know better. Haven’t we heard the old saying, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts”? Well, very true with these motherboards. If we didn’t know for months already what Intel was planning with these boards, we wouldn’t be so excited. I have to say though, our excitement isn’t necessarily about these two particular boards. Just like any other Intel Mini-ITX mainboard, the features are minimal, the life-cycle is short (12~24 months), and the components are not industrial rated. But does Intel really care about that? No. And they shouldn’t. These boards sell themselves. For many applications, customers need little more than a video connection and some other basic I/O. These boards are inexpensive, meet typical computing requirements, and play host to the most important piece here: Intel’s processors.
Moving onto Intel’s next-generation Atom processors—the D510 and D410, codenamed “Pine View” with the full platform (processor + chipset) codenamed “Pine Trail” feature “integration of memory controller and graphics into the CPU, a first in the industry on x-86 chips.” According to Intel, what this means is that you have a smaller overall footprint from the chips on the mainboard, decreased production costs, and lower combined TDP. With a lower TDP, you have a dual core Atom processor with the ability to go fanless from the get-go (the dual core D510MO is fanless). The D410 is a single core Atom processor with a 12-watt total kit TDP including chipset and the D510 dual core Atom processor with a 15-watt total kit TDP including chipset. For us, the less power consumption you can get without greatly sacrificing performance, the better.
Off the back panel I/O, the D410PT features VGA, 4x USB ports, 10/100 LAN, 3x Audio jacks, and 2x PS2 ports. On the board, you have PCI, 2x USB pin headers for 4x USB ports, 2x RS-232 COM pin headers, 2 SATA (3 Gb/sec.) connectors, 1x Fan pin header, and your front panel pin headers. And, it has a 24-pin ATX connector and 2x DDR2 667/800 DIMM slots for up to 4 GB memory support. The D510MO has the same except it offers Gb LAN instead of 10/100, offers a PCIe Mini Card slot at the expense of one USB port via pin header, and has an LPT pin header, S/PDIF pin header, and Wireless activity LED pin header. Both boards feature the NM10 chipset and offer the GMA 3150 graphics. The GMA 3150 does not provide MPEG hardware acceleration, so we can look to the next-generation NVIDIA ION platform to satisfy the demand for improved video performance. However, it’s not clear what form the ION 2 will come in, so we’ll have to wait and see.
The potential is great for the next-generation Atom, but Intel’s entry-level motherboards, the Packton and Mount Olive, just skim the surface. Again, I don’t believe Intel was planning to do much more with these boards, and again, I don’t blame them. So, we must look to other mainboard manufacturer’s to give us a little more oomph. Jetway is poised to release an Intel Atom platform paired with the ICH8M chipset (both the D510 and ICH8M are on Intel’s embedded roadmap), so project customers with a slightly longer development cycle can look to this board to be around for 3+ years. We also hope to see some Pine Trail boards paired in some fashion with the ION 2.