Flexible, Solid State Computer for $299

Flexible, Solid State Computer for $299

Flexible, Solid State Computer for $299

Flexible, Solid State Computer for $299

SolidLogic JT01

SolidLogic JT01 Fanless System

As technology grows more standardized and commonplace, the pricey hardware relics of the past are no longer the only option for securing quality systems and components. Four years ago, I can remember selling digital cameras and customers asking for a decent choice for sub $100. That’s when I reached behind the counter and handed them a box that held a plastic digital camera inside wrapped up like a Barbie Doll. If you wanted the next step up, you moved into the 4 mega-pixel category with sub-par lenses and digital zoom. Not until you reached the $400~$500 range did you begin to see cameras that you would actually want to take pictures with. Nothing really existed in between. I would coach customers into buying something that met their minimal requirements and then tell them to wait for another year because what they held in their hands would be obsolete in twelve months and they would be able to get a camera twice as good for cheaper. Needless to say, I didn’t last very long as a salesperson.

This kind of low-end-to-quality hardware option delta also was evident when I arrived at Logic Supply three years ago. The ruggedized, high-end solid state (no moving parts) computer systems cost a customer over $1500 for a basic configuration around an embedded VIA processing platform. Forget about dual core. The jump from a non-fanless system to a fanless one was pretty steep. Customers were certainly willing to take the plunge two years ago because nothing else really existed and people had money to spend. If you needed it, you needed it. That’s certainly not the case anymore.

With the introduction of the Intel Atom processor and subsequently Intel’s first, entry-level Mini-ITX offering, the “Little Falls,” mainboard and system prices began to drastically shoot downward. Flash memory prices also continued to ebb and flow with the market, but recently we’ve seen a significant drop in the overall cost of these components, too. The point I’m making here is that customers can finally obtain a quality, completely solid state system with a basic configuration (512 RAM, 1 GB solid state storage) for a reasonable price. The disparity between high-end and cheap has narrowed. (And, yes, I’m going to promote one of our new products to back up my previous statement.) Our new JT01 Fanless Mini-ITX System bridges the gap; it is slim, solid, completely fanless, and well priced at a starting configuration price of $299.

This is good news for our project customers who are increasingly price sensitive but still require hardware that can withstand harsh environments, operate continuously over time without failures, and be rugged enough to be placed in publicly accessed areas. Consumers could certainly benefit from a thin, mountable system that operates silently and won’t get clogged with cat hair, dust, and pizza grease.

We have one version of the JT01, at the moment, designed around the Intel D945GSEJT “Johnstown” mainboard. This is a good solution for short life cycle projects (~8–12 months) that require a basic, fanless system to get a project up and running quickly and at a reasonable price-point. This first configuration looks like this:

  • Intel D945GSEJT “Johnstown” Mini-ITX Mainboard
  • Steel chassis with extruded aluminum top panel
  • 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor and 945GSE chipset
  • Front access to:
    • 2x RS-232 COM ports
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports
    • 2x Audio jacks: line-out, mic
  • Back panel access to:
    • 1x VGA port
    • 1x DVI-D port
    • 3x USB 2.0 ports
    • 1x Gb LAN port
    • 1x Audio jack: line-out
    • Power button
  • 12-volt DC power from mainboard onboard power source
  • Defaults to 512 MB RAM, 1 GB ATP eUSB Flash Storage Module, 60 W AC Adapter, Assembly and Testing

The second configuration, which will be available end of Q2, beginning of Q3, will be almost identical except that the mainboard for this system is Jetway’s Johnstown clone, the NF95. The major differences here are a 0°C~60°C operating temperature range as opposed to the 0°C~35°C on the Johnstown board, long life cycle support (5–7 years), and a 24-bit LVDS connector that works out of the box (Johnstown mainboard has an 18-bit LVDS connector, but it needs to be enabled and is really only for OEM use). The NF95 also features solid capacitors, which extends the longevity and reliability of the system. The system price will be slightly higher, but still very reasonable.

Wireless is an option with this system as well as the Broadcom Hardware Decoder, which enables 1080p playback and reduces CPU utilization. Only one can be installed though, because there is only one PCIe Mini Card slot on the mainboard. The JT01 also supports Windows XP, Windows 7, and Ubuntu Linux operating systems.

The case can be purchased separately, too, if you already have a Johnstown kicking around. Mounting brackets are included with both the system and the case and have a standard and DIN-rail mounting hole layout.

Of course, there are plenty of comparable options out there: Quanmax and MSI both make fanless systems designed around the Intel N270/945GSE processor-chipset combo. Priced a little higher, these systems come standard with 80 GB HDD, 1 GB RAM, and VESA mounting brackets.

 

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Comments (16)

  1. April 9, 2010

    “8-12 months”? So not something you’d recommend for a digital picture/media frame?

  2. Kristina Bond
    Kristina
    April 9, 2010

    Hi Ben,
    If you plan to use this system for personal use, then you don’t have to be concerned with the life cycle of the motherboard. I should probably clarify that the 8~12 months refers to how long you have to continue purchasing the D945GSEJT motherboard, not its functioning lifespan. We typically mention life cycle because many of our customers need to know that they can still get the components after they are completed the prototyping phase of their projects and are now ready to move into production. Many times prototyping takes 6 months to a year. We try to inform our project customers which components we carry are consumer/commercial.

    Thanks!
    Kristina

  3. Bruce Schaller
    April 13, 2010

    Your company has great posts! Please keep em coming! I want to implement ideas which you discuss in your posts! In a few months, I will hopefully be able to, as a controls eng =)

  4. Carl
    April 26, 2010

    Kristina:
    You have the Jetway NF95A in stock. How soon will you have the JT01 ready for it? Will you be using the stock heat sinks on the NF95A or will you require a change to a heat pipe (if so, will it be included with the chassis)?
    This looks like it could be my project board, especially with its long life and expanded temperature range combined with this chassis.
    Thanks,
    Carl

  5. Tony Fiset
    tony f.
    April 29, 2010

    Hi Carl,

    The Johnstown and NF95 have very different types of heat sink mounting, so we will need to redesign the copper-core heat pipe for the NF95/NF95A. Additionally, the I/O is actually just different enough that the DC input on the NF95 won’t line up properly with this case (the tolerances on our prototype were off just enough that we thought they would be interchangeable). Because of these issues we will probably push back development of the NF95 version until early Q4. That being said, if you have a project with sufficient volume, please contact our Technical Sales department – we could accelerate that schedule dramatically if we had a customer driving the demand.

  6. Josh G.
    May 13, 2010

    I’m looking forward to the NF95 as well. I’ll give it more consideration when I get to research form-factors as a summer task. Just glancing at it, I’d prefer to remove the 2x RS-232 COM ports, at least from the “front”, as I don’t need them and would like to use that space to brand the units. For aesthetics its a jarring look. 😉

    If that red button on the back is the power that’d be a concern as well. I don’t like how it sticks out and would prefer something more flush to prevent an accidental power down.

  7. June 17, 2010

    We build dispatch consoles and need to run a windows based operating system and a program approx 6.0 mb, do you have a product that will fit this application, all we need is usb and ethernet, audio is controlled by our own control board via usb, maybe a serial port for touchscreen monitors that use serial rather than usb, can you help?

  8. Kristina Bond
    Kristina
    June 17, 2010

    Hi Andy,
    We’d love to help! I’ll have someone from our technical team get in touch with you.

    Kristina

  9. David Evans
    December 28, 2010

    Hi Kristina,
    I am wondering if these would be the best computers to use on a yacht in small spaces to run the functions such as the monitoring and alarm systems and satellite comms programs (dos based progs)? Currently the fan computers give out a lot of noise and heat and obviously are much bigger. I would also be looking at more longevity from the units but like the com ports – we have many peripherals!
    Thanks
    Dai Evans

  10. Kristina Bond
    Kristina
    December 28, 2010

    Hi Dai,
    These systems are fairly low powered and don’t generate too much heat. We have a customer who puts these in police cars, so I assume the space requirements would be similar. As for supported applications, I’m not sure what the compatibility of this system would be. I recommend contacting one of our technical sales associates for more information on those specifics. If you would like me to pass your information onto someone here, I will be more than happy to do that.

    Longevity is definitely an issue with the D945GSEJT mainboard. We should begin to see this board phase out later this coming year (2011). The Jetway NF95A would be the better option for you, but the backplane of this case is designed for the D945GSEJT and would need to be modified.

    I hope this information helps! Let me know if you would like someone here to contact you or you can go here to fill out an online form and request additional information.

    Thanks!
    Kristina

  11. EC
    March 23, 2011

    I need a pc to handle and withstand the severe conditions resident on a sailboat pounding through 15v foot seas exposed to sea/salt air( not drenched,just atmospheric salty humidity, bouncing around in a sever sea). Any ideas what could survive this environment and support nav software ( maptech, nobletech) and sirius weather,AIS.?????

  12. Tony Fiset
    Tony
    March 24, 2011

    Hi EC,

    We’ll be developing our GW-01 IP67-rated fanless case for use with both an Atom D525 and (probably) the T56N Fusion processor. I’m not sure if either of these have enough horsepower for your specific applications, but they will both be tremendous improvements from the current Via C7 and Atom N270 options we have.

    If that isn’t enough processing power, you’d be best served with either our PT901 or AU912 with a conformal coating to protect against humidity, condensation, and corrosion. Unfortunately, conformal coating is pretty expensive, not only because of the coating itself, but the warranty implications of supporting a coated product (you can’t repair the motherboard once it’s coated).

  13. June 2, 2011

    Where can I buy these computers??
    Flexible, Solid State Computer for $299

  14. June 8, 2011

    We would like to order one of your Flexible, Solid State Computer for $299.
    We will test the product before we need additional units.
    Tank you
    Gerhard Gross
    IT – Assistant . Cuddledown.com
    207-761-0201, 283 .
    gogross@cuddledown.com
    Like us on Facebook . Follow us on Twitter . Read our blog: thebeddingsnob.com

  15. Tony Fiset
    Tony
    June 8, 2011

    Hi Mark, Gerhard,

    As I’m sure you are aware, this post is over a year old and the options and prices have changed quite a bit since it was posted. Thanks to your renewed interest, we’ve reconfigured it to come much closer to the original in price and specification – it is now $309.95.

    You can purchase them directly on our website, or contact our sales team for volume pricing.

  16. April 1, 2014

    I have been running linux on one of these hosting a website, DNS, mail, vpn, and lots more continuously for about 3 years. I got it because it was silent and low power. Nice product.

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