What’s the future for “uninstalled mini-computers”? What I want is a miniature PC that looks good on my desk and I want it completely uninstalled, silent and cheap. Can there be such a thing? Michael Barnes, expert on the subject from NorhTec answers a few questions. One of their products is the MicroClient Jr seen below. So, lets get technical!

“NorhTec is focused on creating tomorrow’s computers today. Each generation of computers has been replaced with new computers which are smaller, more energy efficient and less expensive. NorhTec is delivering computers today that are smaller, more efficient and less expensive than anyone else.”


Q: What do you think? Would it be possible what I want to do in my article on a small miniature computer that is uninstalled?
A: What you want to do is becoming technically more feasible all the time. Most of the products shown on your page are based on technologies that are about four years old. That goes for the SiS550 chip used in the MicroClient Jr and it goes for all the VIA based platforms currently on the market.

Q: So what’s the next thing coming up?
A: In the next year, much is going to change. The first change will be that VIA is transitioning to their new C7 chip [MUL note: hey, I got one of those]. This chip will offer from 1Ghz to 2Ghz performance and allow devices to be built on small platforms that offer four times the performance of the previous technology.

In addition to this, there will be new Taiwanese chips that are based on now not protected x486 designs (as the patents expired on the 486 core). These chips will offer high clock speeds, low energy and low cost.

Q: What about the big guys over at AMD and Intel?
A: Both Intel and AMD will be releasing new chips. AMD bought out the Geode chipset from National. While the Geodes from National are aging technologies as well, AMD is rebranding Duron and Athelon Mobile chips as Geodes and these offer a competitive alternative to the VIA chipsets.

Intel promises to have 1Ghz processors that operate at the sub-5 watt level in the next few months.

Q: Ok, so that’s the hardware. What about the software to use?
A: Today, there are several options for running a cost effective office solution. If getting on the network and running AJAX or web based applications that is all that is required, then there are many options indeed.

Personally, I am a fan of Puppy Linux because it is very easy to install and provides an amazing amount of software.

Damn Small Linux is a very good starting point that is very easy to enhance.

Thanks Michael for answering my questions helping me to realize my plans!