CEBIT : Shuttle details smaller, quieter barebones PC

Taiwanese barebones PC maker Shuttle Inc. has released details of a more compact version of its small XPC barebones PC that is expected to be introduced at the Cebit exhibition in March.

The XPC Zen ST62K measures 17 centimetres by 19 centimetres by 28 centimetres, slightly smaller than current XPC models, which measure 18 centimetres by 20 centimetres by 30 centimetres, according to the company. Barebones systems like the XPC include a case, motherboard and a power supply. Users add their own processor, memory, hard disk, optical drive and other peripherals to complete the system.

The XPC Zen is also quieter than existing XPC models, operating at around 25 decibels under most conditions, said Ken Huang, vice-president of systems research and development at Shuttle in Taipei. To help achieve this, the XPC Zen does not use a cooling fan, he said.

“You can only hear a little noise from the hard-disk drive and maybe sometimes some noise from the CD-ROM drive,” Huang said.

To help keep the system cool, the XPC Zen uses an internal heatpipe to dissipate the heat that is generated by chips such as Intel Corp.’s Pentium 4.

The XPC Zen is currently still under development and the system design should be finalized by late February, Huang said. The exact introduction date for the XPC Zen has not yet been set, but Huang expects the system to begin shipping “around the Cebit timeframe.”

The ST62K will be based on a chipset from ATI Technologies Inc. with support for dual-channel DDR (Double Data Rate) memory and can be used with Pentium 4 and Celeron processors running at speeds of 3GHz or more, Huang said. To help make the system smaller, the XPC Zen incorporates an external power adapter, the company said.

The XPC Zen may be the smallest barebones system to be shipped by Shuttle for some time. Size constraints posed by PC peripherals such as a hard drive restrict just how much Shuttle can shrink the size of the system beyond its current dimensions, Huang said.

“Reducing the size of the XPC by one centimetre is like a person trying to lose one pound. It’s so difficult to do that sometimes,” he said.

The Cebit exhibition will be held in Hanover, Germany, from Mar. 18 to 24.

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