WinHEC 2005: Coverage Wrapby Derek Wilson & Jarred Walton on April 29, 2005 2:00 PM EST
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Media Center Edition PCsSince October 2004, one million MCE PCs have been shipped. In contrast, the total number of MCE PCs shipped since Windows MCE first became available is only two million units. There's a reason Microsoft and their partners are pursuing multimedia applications so heavily, as they continue to see this market as an area of rapid growth. We've got some additional information on the topic we hope you'll find interesting.
There were a couple key features that came up repeatedly in regards to media center devices. Besides performance and the user interface, the need to make them small and quiet was clearly a focal point. A presentation by NVIDIA discussed these conflicting goals and the balancing act that must be maintained. (We'd provide you some of the slides from the presentation, but apparently the slides were only finalized the night before, so we didn't get a copy on the WinHEC CD that was provided for attendees.)
One example given was the heat generated by a standard 7200 RPM hard drive. Without any form of active cooling (i.e. no case and/or PSU fans), HDD temperatures quickly scaled up to 50+ C. Even a small amount of airflow was able to reduce that to a more tolerable 40 C, but the problem was in the choice of components. A cheap $5 fan can do the trick, but often at a much higher noise level.
This leads to a topic of particular interest: the use of "smart" fans that can regulate speeds based on temperatures. Such components are often luxuries on a larger case, but the SFF segment frequently uses such designs. NVIDIA's own testing has confirmed what we already know: an intelligent and well-designed cooling system can often pack more components into a smaller area and still achieve better thermal and acoustic performance.