Let's Make Robots!

Mini ITX X86 Question

This is an inquiry to all your smart hardware people and expert link gatherers.  MarkusB wants to purchase a brain for the MAAHRs project, which I will be installing MRL.  Several of us came to the conclusion that a mini-atx computer would be the best choice.  But we don't know which one. Do you have experience in these?  Even if you don't, can you give us an idea & link of what might be a good start?  

Preference would be:

  • X86 architecture 
  • lots of memory 
  • integrated wifi if possible

To get the ball rolling I found this


The Pros are that its completely silent, has USB 3.0, and a bunch of other features... The bad part is that it appears to be extremely picky about its memory .. you have to get exactly the correct kind....



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Plus you can mount the screen right to the rest of the computer, as in take out the keyboard... Hmmm now I want to try this haha :)

You want a system that requires as little power as possible, go for an intel atom system with embedded video.

VIA's are not the fastest kid on the block, but they are cheap, cool (as in heat) and extremely low power.


There is a collection.

Apparently there is a quad core coming out soonish.

Thanks for the info.   We need links to actual boards boards though.. Hmmm site seems broken..

I noticed, it was up when I linked it.
VIA Has some nice embedded boards, they are really small, but also have some larger, Mini ITX and Nano ITX boards, all are good and X86 based. 

... Nvidia ION and USB 3.0 are cool but while you could use the ION core to run cuda stuff how many USB3.0 peripherials do you have?

The board should be cheap and as low on consumed power as possible in my opinion, the desktop features are useless in a robot ... I mean do you really need HDMI and 7 channel sound on it?

How abot something like this?


I knew you would be more HW savvy than I..

I've had issues with Nvidia Linux drivers before ... but that changes monthly...
For USB 3.0, I thought the USB spec said it had to be backwards compatible... ie.  it would accept 3.0 devices but 2.0 & 1.1+ etc are still compatible.   I don't really care, just thinking of future cheap webcams...

No, no HDMI necessary .. unless Markus wants to use it as a home theater as well....

Your link is definately better !


http://www.amazon.com/Intel-Innovation-Motherboard-Processor-BOXD425KT/dp/B0041RSC8A  (the reviewer said it was a bait and switch)

Holy crud $65 1.8 Ghz - I am soo getting one too !!!! 

So, necessary peripherals would be memory, wifi, and ATA disk?  I think the SSD is overpriced for capacity.


... I wold say:

- usb thumb drive or SD card reader - lower power good read speed 

- maybe a small laptop harddrive - you know if you need to write fast

- wifi - bluetooth - usb dongles

- memory as much as possible - might be cool as a fast ram drive :)

... extra these boards sport two serial and one parallel port ... good stuff for interfacing 


OpenCV needs a lot of processing power so you MUST have a multicore processor. I am afraid that Atom processors are not fast enough - a 32nm entry level multicore Intel processor should have a small power requirement.

I think that there is a version of "CUDA enabled" OpenCV - in theory that should run faster on an ION board with a dual-core ATOM processor that on a regular desktop processor - but that is for GroG to test it.

The motherboard must have the minimum number of peripherals needed, to conserve power, some USB 2.0 and wifi (even through a dongle) should be enough.

Use the minimum ammount of RAM, like 2GB, also because the power is important.