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Dell spins dual-core thin client

Oct 31, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 15 views

Dell has announced a device billed as the company's first-ever thin client design. The Optiplex FX160 has single-core Atom 230 or dual-core Atom 330 processors, up to 4GB of RAM, an optional 2.5-inch hard disk drive, gigabit Ethernet port, and available 802.11b/g wireless networking, says Dell.

(Click here for a larger view of Dell's Optiplex FX160)

Though Dell's claim that its new Optiplex FX160 is its first thin client seems hard to credit, the company explains that its previous offerings in this area were either third-party products, or standard desktop PCs that simply had their hard disks removed. The FX160, in contrast, was designed from scratch to be a thin client device, says the company.

The device's compact box weighs from four to 4.6 pounds (1.8 to 2.1kg), depending on configuration, and measures 9 x 8.9 x 2.1 inches (23 x 22.5 x 5.4cm), not including the stand and optional antenna shown at right. Inside, there's a choice of either Intel's 1.6GHz, single-core Atom 230 processor, or the newer, dual-core Atom 330, according to Dell.

Like other devices that rely on these 45nm “nettop” processors, the Optiplex FX160 also employs Intel's 945GC chipset, i.e. the 82945GC northbridge and 82801GB southbridge. Second-level cache is 512MB for the Atom 230, and 1GB for the Atom 330, Dell confirms.

Dell says its thin client has two DIMM slots, which jointly accept up to 4GB of 800MHz DDR32 memory. For mass storage, the unit is available with an internal, 80GB 2.5-inch HDD (hard disk drive), or an SATA-interfaced flash module offered in 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB capacities.

Multiple OS options … or none at all

The flash modules target installation of operating systems that include both Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Thin Client 10 and Windows XP Embedded, according to Dell. But, the company adds, the Optiplex FX160 need have no mass storage at all: using the company's ODDS (on-demand desktop streaming) feature, the unit can also boot from a disk image housed in an enterprise data center. Traditionalists, meanwhile, can boot from the optional internal HDD if they prefer.

Other internal expansion is limited to what Dell describes as a “half” mini-PCI Express slot. This is intended primarily for a 802.11b/g wireless networking card, which comes as a factory option along with the associated antenna.

While Intel's 945GC chipset already provides integrated graphics, the Optiplex FX160 is said to include an SIS Mirage 3 GPU (graphics processing unit). This has apparently been added to provide the thin client with its dual display support.

Both VGA and DVI connectors are fitted on the device's little rear panel. Resolution can be up to 1920 x 1200 via VGA, and 1600 x 1200 via DVI, with the option of either cloned or independent displays, says Dell.

Finally, the Optiplex FX160 has front panel jacks for a microphone and headphones, along with two USB ports. Around back, there are four more USB 2.0 connectors, a gigabit Ethernet port, PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse, plus a serial port, according to the company.

Features and specifications listed by Dell for the Optiplex FX160 include:

  • Processor — Single-core Atom 230 or dual-core Atom 330, both clocked at 1.6GHz
  • Memory — Up to 4GB of DDR2 RAM
  • Storage — Available with 512MB, 1GB, or 2GB flash modules, or 2.5-inch, 80GB HDD (hard disk drive)
  • Display — Supports dual displays via VGA and DVI connectors; VGA resolutions to 1920 x 1200, and DVI to 1600 x 1200
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port with RJ45 connector; optional 802.11b/g wireless LAN module
  • Other I/O:
    • 1 x VGA
    • 1 x DVI
    • 6 x USB 2.0 (2 front panel, 4 rear)
    • 1 x RS232
    • 2 x PS/2 (for keyboard and mouse)
    • Audio — headphone output and microphone input (front panel)

  • Expansion — Half mini-PCI Card slot
  • Operating temperature — 10 to 35 deg. C (50 to 95 deg. F)
  • Power requirements — Integrated PSU accepts 90VAC to 264VAC input range; 50 Watts
  • Dimensions — 9 x 8.9 x 2.1 inches (23 x 22.5 x 5.4cm)
  • Weight — 4 to 4.6 pounds (1.8 to 2.1kg)

According to Dell, Atom 230 configurations of the Optiplex FX160 are available now, while Atom 330 versions will be available in the fourth quarter. Pricing starts at approximately $400, adds Dell.

Further information may appear on the company's website, here.

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