Author Topic: Most power efficient computers?  (Read 2971 times)

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Offline SeagullOneTopic starter

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Most power efficient computers?
« on: February 22, 2009, 08:39:26 PM »
What computers out there are most power efficient? I know laptops are more power efficient than Desktops, but a whole laptop seems more than I'll need for just my robot, NINA. Plus, I have an old desktop just lying around with Windows XP and I'd love to use that for my robot, except its a desktop and it'll eat up power like crazy...

Is there a way to make a desktop motherboard more power efficient, like a laptop? Like taking out components and installing only the necessary capabilities with nLite or something?

Also, what about Single Board Computers? Does anyone know how power efficient they are? Can they run Windows XP on them?
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Offline ArcMan

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2009, 08:57:55 PM »
A common approach when needing mobile computing horsepower is to use an mini-ITX or nano-ITX form-factor board.  It can run Windows and it has all the requisite ports.
They can be powered with a single 12VDC source by using a DC-to-DC ATX PSU.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2009, 09:02:42 PM by ArcMan »

Offline HyperNerd

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2009, 11:07:36 AM »
A normal desktop PC uses about 200W+ to power it. A mini-ITX uses about 30W ;) . They have onboard graphics/sound, can run win XP, and have loads of ports, which makes then great for robotics. If you use a 2.5" Laptop HDD, then you can really save power!

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Offline SmAsH

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2009, 02:46:24 PM »
wow, i really want to try this with my old laptop
Howdy

Offline Asellith

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2009, 09:41:42 AM »
If you keep the amount of peripheral devices and cards to a minimum maybe get some flash memory instead of a hard drive and hard wire the proper power into the motherboard from your batteries then you might not use that much power. Problem with getting more desktops to work is the power supply needs 110. Take out the power supply and find the voltages and amps needed for all your electronics and design/buy your own dc-dc converters to get those ratings. Then wire it all together into your battery system. Typical motherboard uses +12 -12 +5 -5 and maybe a few 3.3 volt lines as well. Do some testing and see if you can make it more efficient by taking out the middle men. Also don't use linear dc-dc converters that just wastes power through heat
Jonathan Bowen
CorSec Engineering
www.corseceng.com

Offline SeagullOneTopic starter

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2009, 04:03:53 PM »
Thanks guys!

I think I'll go with a Mini-ITX. I've seen a few robots on Lynxmotion forums a while back who used it. It has plenty of peripherals, runs windows XP for roborealm, power efficient, and I've got at least two 12V 10AmpHour battery packs lying around, and I guess I can use those as a power supply through a dc-dc ATX PSU.

Thanks again!
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Offline MaltiK

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2009, 06:51:09 PM »
Laptop using a Parallax propellor chip, very cheap electricity wise...

Source code, schematics, layouts all provided


http://www.parallax.com/tabid/708/Default.aspx
Warranty

Offline Admin

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2009, 09:33:09 AM »
You didn't specify the computing power you'd need, or memory requirements . . .

that being said, you could always get like a Palm Pilot or some handheld that runs on Windows CE / Linux

Offline SeagullOneTopic starter

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2009, 12:04:43 AM »
Sorry, I haven't checked in a while. Hope this post isn't too old to start up again... :)

My robot will be running roborealm and using a lot of its features! The roborealm software will be communicating with a sabertooth, a SSC-32 Servo Controller, a led controller board, 2 webcams for stereoscopic vision--and I know how to do it ;)--and will be operated by a python script through the roborealm python API. The python API will also tie in an SD84 servo controller--which I'll be using as a sensor board instead.

I already have most of these components, not to mention a good deal of the required servos, hardware, and other stuff...its just a matter of putting it all together. But in stages...

Now, while I know how to put robots together and program them, I'm use to doing everything on ready-made computing systems, like my laptop--I've actually test-driven the robot mobile chasis on my laptop--but I'm more interested in getting my robot its own computing system, like a mini-ITX or small laptop. Plus, my laptop would take up too much space to fit on my completed robot.

What I'm looking for is something that's small (it can be heavy, as long as its small--this is a BIG bot) is fast, and is power efficient. That given, it should be able to handle roborealm on Windows XP (I'd hate to use Vista, which my laptop's running along with Mac OS X), and process images from two Cyber Snipa webcams with good stable performance. Not necessarily outrageous performance...just good stable performance.

I've thought about buying a netbook, like the Asus Eee 1000HE with 2Gs of RAM...but I don't like the 1.6Ghz processor for my application... :-\

If I were to buy a mini-ITX, I have a friend whose a computer wizard, and he could probably put it together for me, assuming I didn't buy a whole mini-ITX system in a housing case. I have two 12V 10Amp hour battery packs just lying around and hopefully I could power the Mini-ITX with those, with the right supply.

My budget for this computing system is around $500.00, but if I can find something cheaper and works with my application, I'd go for the best option out there. I've spent the past few weeks searching the internet for systems, and my knowledge of computers is expanding little by little.
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Offline chelmi

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2009, 08:33:58 AM »
I've thought about buying a netbook, like the Asus Eee 1000HE with 2Gs of RAM...but I don't like the 1.6Ghz processor for my application... :-\

Why not ? Are you sure you need more than 1.6GHz ? Check you CPU load when you're running your application, just to get an idea of the kind of processing power you need. This is probably the easiest solution, but kind of expensive IMO...

If I were to buy a mini-ITX, I have a friend whose a computer wizard, and he could probably put it together for me, assuming I didn't buy a whole mini-ITX system in a housing case. I have two 12V 10Amp hour battery packs just lying around and hopefully I could power the Mini-ITX with those, with the right supply.

That would be my preference. The majority of the processors on mini ITX boards are very low-power and less powerful than desktop PC, but probably powerful enough to run video processing. I have an EPIA LN1000EG at 1GHz and it's perfectly able to decode a xvid video. VIA has more powerful boards if you need more processing power.

Chelmi

Offline HyperNerd

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2009, 10:16:57 AM »
You said you needed a small mobo? How about a nano-iTX? We're talking about a 4&3/4" square footprint :o

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Offline Soeren

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2009, 01:10:59 PM »
Nope...

Nano-ITX = 12 cm x 12 cm
Pico-ITX = 10 cm x 7.2 cm
Regards,
Søren

A rather fast and fairly heavy robot with quite large wheels needs what? A lot of power?
Please remember...
Engineering is based on numbers - not adjectives

Offline SeagullOneTopic starter

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2009, 02:47:25 PM »
Thanks, guys, but it doesn't have to be terribly small. just as long as it's not my 15" laptop widescreen laptop. :)

I also forgot to mention the computer will be running speech recognition. However, I measured my CPU power while running Speech Recognition and it took from 50% to 100% of the CPU! :o I don't know if the speech recognition engine for Windows XP is any more power efficient. That, along with Roborealm and everything it will be doing, would require a lot of CPU dedication...

Here's what I'm looking to put together with my friend, who's in on this project as well.

-Intel BOXDQ45EK LGA 775 Intel Q45 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard

-Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor

-Kingston HyperX 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory

-Western Digital Scorpio Black WD1600BEKT 160GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Notebook Hard Drive - OEM

I still need to check with my friend if this combination will work. Some worries is price for these components (On newegg.com its a total of $400+) and it might be a little overkill (if not a lot, but I'm not sure). It would certainly be more powerconsuming than 30 Watts. For +65Watts, at 12V thats a little over 5 Amps, corrent? Watts = Voltage * Current? And that's not accounting for the memory and HDD power...Hmmm... :-\

Any suggestions? It will be a while before I purchase any of these items, so I'm going to spen a lot of my time planning in the meantime.

I think the chauffeur did it.

.......

He did.

Offline chelmi

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2009, 03:46:12 PM »
Thanks, guys, but it doesn't have to be terribly small. just as long as it's not my 15" laptop widescreen laptop. :)

I also forgot to mention the computer will be running speech recognition. However, I measured my CPU power while running Speech Recognition and it took from 50% to 100% of the CPU! :o I don't know if the speech recognition engine for Windows XP is any more power efficient. That, along with Roborealm and everything it will be doing, would require a lot of CPU dedication...

Here's what I'm looking to put together with my friend, who's in on this project as well.

-Intel BOXDQ45EK LGA 775 Intel Q45 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard

-Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor

-Kingston HyperX 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory

-Western Digital Scorpio Black WD1600BEKT 160GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Notebook Hard Drive - OEM

I still need to check with my friend if this combination will work. Some worries is price for these components (On newegg.com its a total of $400+) and it might be a little overkill (if not a lot, but I'm not sure). It would certainly be more powerconsuming than 30 Watts. For +65Watts, at 12V thats a little over 5 Amps, corrent? Watts = Voltage * Current? And that's not accounting for the memory and HDD power...Hmmm... :-\

Any suggestions? It will be a while before I purchase any of these items, so I'm going to spen a lot of my time planning in the meantime.


My concern is power. What kind of battery do you have ? With the kind of hardware you are planning to use, your autonomy will be very poor in my opinion.
Unless you really need those 160Gb of storage, I suggest you to use a Solid State Drive instead of a regular hard drive. It's more expensive but doesn't need as much power. But this is probably not enough. Did you look at low power CPUs like the ones for laptops ?

Offline madchimp

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2009, 06:43:08 PM »
I would also be concerned about putting a hard drive on a mobile robot. Not only due to the power consumption but also the vibrations and such that it might have to endure. Computer hard drives don't like shock tends to kill them. Notebook hard drives are a little more tolerant but they to have their limits. One option you have for inexpensive drive space would be a usb flash drive you can get 16GB fairly cheap now and most modern computers support booting off a usb drive. If you need a portion of hard drive that can read write faster than the flash drive can handle once the computer boots you can have it setup a ram drive. I believe XP supports this I know Linux does. Just some ideas to consider  :).

Offline SeagullOneTopic starter

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2009, 01:01:22 AM »
Thanks for the tips guys!

So the capacity of a hard drive effects the power consumption, and not (just) the HDD's rpm? Interesting.

I certainly don't need 160GB of storage. Although 16 GB from a flash drive doesn't sound like much, I guess for a robot its a lot. And I won't be storing much on it. Just the roborealm application, a TTS voice, python script, all the respective drives, etc. I guess that leaves quite a bit left over...

My robot has serveral batteries, one for each system. The servos are powered by a 6V 10AH NiHm Battery pack, the sensors are powered by a 6V 2300 AH NiMh Battery pack and the two wheelchair motors are powered by a 12V 35 AH Sealed Lead Acid battery. That's what I have so far.

To power the robot's computer system, I do have two 12V 10AH battery packs. Wire them in parallel and I could get 20 AH.

I'll check out more power efficient processors, too.
I think the chauffeur did it.

.......

He did.

Offline madchimp

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2009, 07:05:08 AM »
So the capacity of a hard drive effects the power consumption, and not (just) the HDD's rpm? Interesting.
Capacity can affect it a little in that more capacity usually means more platters and more platters means more power to spin it, so it boils down to most of the power in a hard drive is use spinning it and moving the heads. The flash drive I was referring to is just one of the kind you can carry on your keychain and is solidstate no moving parts. Which is just a cheaper lower capacity option to what chelmi suggested.

Offline SeagullOneTopic starter

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2009, 02:57:35 PM »
Okay, right now I'm planning to go with a mini ITX motherboard with a duel core Intel Atom Processor, 2Gigs of memory, and a 16Gib Flash drive for storage.

I'm read that sometimes software is a little picky about booting off a flash drive. Anyone tried this with roborealm or python scripts and have any problems?
I think the chauffeur did it.

.......

He did.

Offline SeagullOneTopic starter

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2009, 05:14:55 PM »
Okay...no ideas? Anyone have any trouble booting an OS or other software from a flash drive?

Here's what I'm looking at specifically:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Intel-Atom-330-D945GCLF2-Mini-ITX-Motherboard-2GB-T3310_W0QQitemZ400040999402QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item400040999402&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1234|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A50

Does this product look good to anyone else?
I think the chauffeur did it.

.......

He did.

Offline slo

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2009, 06:18:58 PM »
Can anyone confirm with actual figures that a flash drive consumes less power than a notebook drive?  I have a normal 160GB Seagate laptop drive here that I use on a bot without issue.  It is rated .487A at 5v that is 2.435 watts max and it never even gets warm.  I also have a sandisk 8GB microSD in one of those tiny (under an inch) usb readers. During any sustained transfer the thing gets fairly hot.  Even uncomfortable to touch.  And the speed is noticably slower with flash.

The mainboard used is an old P3 with onboard video, sound and LAN powered with http://www.logicsupply.com/products/m3_atx

Offline HyperNerd

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2009, 05:12:14 AM »
Most modern mobo's will allow you to boot an OS from a usb flash drive, but I have only had problems trying this. I would reccommend a solid state IDE disk (like a flash drive with a HDD connector), although these can cost upwards of £100 ($140) :o They act just like a normal HDD, but consume a lot less power. Plus, any mobo can boot from one as it is seen as a standard HDD.

To boot from a flash drive, the CD ISO image needs to be mounted to the drive, and i believe the drive must be formatted NTFS. To do this you need a special program like the HP drive key boot utility, as Windows will not let you format a flash drive NTFS.

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Offline SeagullOneTopic starter

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Re: Most power efficient computers?
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2009, 08:34:41 PM »
Okay then. Thanks guys! I'll see if I can buy the same computer package but with a hard drive included. I have the power and I won't need a screen for the robot except for testing and debugging programs.
I think the chauffeur did it.

.......

He did.

 


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