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Nettop taps Ion 2 GPU

Mar 11, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Shuttle announced a Barebone XS35 nettop equipped with a dual-core Intel Atom D510, as well as the HD-ready Nvidia Ion 2 graphics. Meanwhile NewEgg is selling an Eee Box B202 nettop with Red Flag Linux for only $189, and the Eee PC-oriented Eeebuntu Linux distro is moving from Ubuntu to Debian with EB 4.0.

The Shuttle Barebone XS35 is equipped with two freshly minted processors: Intel's dual-core Atom D510 CPU, clocked at 1.66GHz (combined with an Intel NM10 controller chipset), and Nvidia's second-generation Ion graphics processing unit (GPU). The latter is incorporated on an Nvidia GT218 graphics card, which supports streaming 3D and video playback, says Shuttle.

Announced in December, but not without many details, the "Ion 2" appears to be similar to the original Ion GPU, but is optimized for Intel's "Pineview" processors, including the D510. The original Ion supported DDR3 memory interfaces with frontside bus speeds of up to 1066MHz. Graphically, the Ion is said to support DirectX 10, offer resolutions up to 2560 x 1600 pixels, provide 1080p HD video playback, and deliver HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort, and dual-link DVI video outputs.

Shuttle Barebone XS35 with optical drive open
(Click to enlarge)

Shuttle offers relatively few details on the new XS35 mini-PC, but noted that it is only 3 centimeters thick (about 1.18 inches). The system offers a VESA mounting interface, enabling it to attach to the back of a flat panel display. The XS35 is further equipped with an Ethernet port, five USB ports, an HDMI port, VGA out, and audio connections, says the company.

Shuttle Barebone XS35

Storage is said to include a multi-format card reader, a 2.5-inch hard disk drive (HDD), and an optical slimline drive, says Shuttle. The XS35 is passively cooled, "and therefore practically noiseless," according to the company. The device is also said to be protected against theft with a Kensington lock. Operating system support was not mentioned.

Shuttle recently introduced another ultra-thin PC that runs on the Atom D510, called the X5012. An all-in-one design equipped with a 15.6-inch touchscreen, the X5012 lacks Ion-based graphics. Although, like the XS35, it ships without an operating system, listed compatibility is limited to Windows.

Several other Shuttle nettops have supported Linux, however. For example, last April, the company started shipping its mini-ITX based Barebone X27 design running OpenSUSE Linux. The X27 is equipped with a dual-core Intel Atom 330, clocked at 1.6GHz, with 1GB DDR2, and offers gigabit Ethernet and USB connectivity.

The Intel Atom D510/Ion 2 combination is also offered in the Zotac Zbox HD-ID11, which ships without an operating system. The Zbox HD-ID11 includes both HDMI and dual-link DVI graphics outputs, wired and wireless networking, six USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, and a bay for a 2.5-inch HDD.

Linux-ready Asus EEE Box sells for $189

Someone looking for a more modest, low-cost nettop that runs Linux may want to check out NewEgg, which has dropped the price of the Asus Eee Box EBXB202 to $189 with a $30 rebate. The compact PC appears to be very similar to the Asus Eee Box B204 that was announced back in December 2008.

Eee Box EBXB202

Like the B204, the 8.2 x 7.0 x 1.1-inch B202 runs on an Atom N270, and offers 1GB of DDR2 RAM, Intel GMA950 graphics, and a 160GB HDD, says the online retail site. The system is sold by NewEgg with Red Flag Linux, although it is unclear if this is the new Moblin-based version or an earlier version. Further specs are cited on the Asus site, which lists both GNU Linux and Windows support. According to Asus, the system includes a gigabit Ethernet port, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, an SD slot, four USB ports, audio I/O, and DVI out.

Eeebuntu goes to 4.0 beta

One of the customer reviews on NewEgg notes that the Eee Box B202 system is on the slow side, and recommended swapping out Red Flag Linux for Eeebuntu. This Ubuntu-based distro has grown in popularity as an alternative install for Eee PC netbooks and Eee Box systems. Typically, it's used as an alternative to Windows, which, with a few exceptions such as the B202, is the only OS you get from Asus these days. recently announced the beta release of EB 4.0, which switches from an Ubuntu core to Debian Stable. The apparently controversial switch will provide greater stability as well as greater flexibility in application choices and updates, says the group. EB 4.0 also moves to a minimum platform of 2GB of memory and a 512GB hard drive. (Sadly, this would seem to put it out of reach of the lowly Eee Box B202.)


The Shuttle Barebone XS35 will be available in stores in the second quarter, with pricing yet to be determined, says Shuttle. More information should eventually appear on Shuttle's Barebone page, here.

The Asus Eee Box EBXB202 is on sale at NewEgg for $189 with $30 rebate, here. The Asus page for the computer may be found here . The EB 4.0 beta is available for download at, here.

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