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Intel nettop boards get Linux fast-boot tech

Sep 17, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Phoenix announced an agreement to bundle its Linux-based HyperSpace fast-boot environment with Intel “nettop” motherboards equipped with the Intel Atom230 and 330 CPUs. Due in the fourth quarter, the Intel mobos will run the new Moblin version of the “instant-on” HyperSpace distribution, which is primarily targeted at Windows users.

Phoenix, which has long supplied its BIOS implementation for Intel's x86 products, announced the new Intel collaboration in general terms in July when the company debuted a Moblin version of its fast-booting environment. At the time, the company said it would work with Intel to promote the Moblin version of Hyperspace to netbook and nettop OEMs and ODMs.

HyperSpace background

HyperSpace offers one-second "boot-to-web" times, claims Phoenix. Announced last November and released in January for x86 computers, HyperSpace was spun off the following month into an ARM version. Shortly after, Phoenix announced that HyperSpace was compatible with Freescale's netbook-oriented, ARM Cortex A8 i.MX515 system-on-chip (SoC).

HyperSpace comprises a minimalist, stripped down Linux environment with a Gecko- and Firefox-based browser, a WiFi connection manager, and a teensy kernel that leaves most peripherals (such as USB controllers) powered off to save power. HyperSpace is marketed as a secondary OS option for PCs, booting much faster and offering much better battery life than Windows. On systems with virtualization hardware enabled, Hyperspace can also boot Windows in the background, after which the user can toggle between the two environments.

Like other instant-on environments, HyperSpace is primarily targeted at Windows computers, but it is also compatible with faster-booting desktop Linux. Meanwhile, netbook versions of Linux have whittled down boot times even more, with the Intel-backed Moblin v2 already capable of remarkably fast boot times on its own. In fact, its core fast-boot technology formed the basis of HyperSpace competitor Presto, offered by Xandros.

HyperSpace improves on Moblin's boot times, as well as enhancing Moblin's power management capabilities to provide a boost in battery life, says Phoenix. In addition, the technology provides Moblin with new security, wireless connectivity, and virtalization capabilities, claims the company.

Phoenix offers a Microsoft-compatible productivity suite for HyperSpace called HyperSpace Office, with word processor, spreadsheet and presentation applications. In addition, Phoenix also partnered with Yahoo for HyperSpace-optimized search directly from the user interface, says the company, and has partnerships with Google Picasa and Adobe Photoshop for fast access to photo editing, storing and sharing. Software from Hulu, McAfee, and Real Networks is also offered in the mix.

Intel's nettop mobos

It is unclear whether HyperSpace will be reserved for yet-to-be-released nettop motherboards from Intel, or will be extended to existing products. In June 2008, Intel announced its Atom 230 CPU in June 2008, targeting low-end desktop computers, while at the same time introducing the similar Atom N270 for netbooks. (The latter chip has since seen far more success than the Atom 230, due to the phenomenal growth of the netbook market. )

Intel's Atom 330-based D945GCLF2 mobo

(Click to enlarge)

The same week as its Atom 230 and N270 launch, Intel announced the D945GCLF ("Little Falls"), an $80, Mini-ITX-based nettop motherboard featuring the 230 part. In August, the chipmaker announced the dual-core Atom 330 CPU, along with a D945GCLF2 mini-ITX motherboard that offers gigabit Ethernet, six-channel audio, eight USB ports, and PCI expansion (see image above).

Stated Woody Hobbs, President and CEO of Phoenix, "Intel and Phoenix have enjoyed many years of successful technology pairings and we're pleased to continue the partnership by joining HyperSpace with Intel's Atom processor platform."

Stated Clem Russo, VP and GM of Intel's Client Boards Division, "This pairing of Intel Atom processor-based platforms and the HyperSpace instant-on computing environment will benefit our customers and consumers alike."


Intel motherboards equipped with HyperSpace and either the Intel Atom 230 or Atom 330 will ship in the fourth quarter, says Phoenix. More information on HyperSpace may be found here.

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