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SkinnyBytes launches PoE PCs

SkinnyBytes launches PoE PCs

The SkinnyBytes all-in-one systems need no mains power, using Power over Ethernet instead.

If you're all about minimising clutter, how does the thought of an all-in-one desktop which doesn't need a power cable strike you?

That's the concept behind the latest machines from Arizona-based SkinnyBytes, which has unveiled a line of touch-screen all-in-one PCs which run entirely from the energy supplied over a Power over Ethernet (PoE) connection.

A frequent sight in industry - and, if the company gets it way, in education - PoE outlets use the spare pairs of a standard Ethernet connection to carry enough juice to power simple devices: IP-based telephones, wireless access points, webcams, and the like. SkinnyBytes, however, has decided to take the concept one stage further by powering the entire PC over Ethernet.

The end result is an all-in-one system - available in sizes ranging from 8.9" to an impressive 18.5" - which the company claims use around 90 percent less lower than their traditional, mains-connected equivalents.

Featuring passively cooled Intel Atom processors, solid-state drives, and LED backlighting for the touch-screen displays, the systems aren't going to replace your gaming powerhouse any time soon - but for education, SkinnyByte's target market, the idea of a range of cheap-to-run machines which can be fitted to any room where there are RJ45 sockets regardless of the availability of power will be an extremely tempting one.

Sadly, there are certain choices that the company has had to make to keep the power consumption as low as possible - chief among them the decision to disable audio, which is likely to limit the appeal to educational users.

While pricing is high for the initial run of the products - with the 18.5" 'Elite' model featuring a dual-core Atom D510 processor and 2GB of DDR2 RAM hooked up to a 1366x768 touch-screen setting prospective buyers back $999 (around £625) a pop - it's an interesting development in low-powered computing, and brings the sort of flexibility that was previously only possible with thin-client systems to full-fat computers.

So far the company has not announced any UK launch plans for the range.

Are you impressed to see an entire PC - complete with display - powered simply by PoE, or has SkinnyBytes made too many sacrifices in the name of lowered power consumption for the devices to make it big? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

21 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
bestseany 9th August 2010, 10:26 Quote
That's a pretty good idea actually!
gollum385 9th August 2010, 10:34 Quote
Surely the cost to take a room, and insert multiple plugs sockets, then purchase many normal pc's would be a much cheaper alternative? Plus they wouldn't lose the audio and performance.

However what they've done is still mgihty impressive based on the small power supply.
proxess 9th August 2010, 10:42 Quote
Well if you think of decently-built schools, most of them will have ethernet sockets on every wall anyway. You're probably thinking "well most UK schools are probably housed in 50+ year old buildings". Well, tough luck, init. Hopefully some of those schools are part of those 200+ awaiting remodeling/rebuilding.
dolphin-promotions 9th August 2010, 10:49 Quote
This idea could work nicely in a low powered NAS
Denis_iii 9th August 2010, 10:52 Quote
that is very impressive! add audio and give it a year or two to mature and drop in price and I'd def purchase several to mount in kitchen/ toilet etc
wuyanxu 9th August 2010, 11:07 Quote
just how much power can be delivered through PoE?

by the specs, it seems over 50w? that a lot for data carrying wires.
capnPedro 9th August 2010, 11:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
just how much power can be delivered through PoE?

by the specs, it seems over 50w? that a lot for data carrying wires.

The IEEE 802.3af-2003 PoE standard (ratified June, 2003) provides up to 15.4 W of DC power (minimum 44 V DC and 350 mA) to each device. Only 12.95 W is assured to be available at the powered device as some power is dissipated in the cable.

The IEEE 802.3at-2009 PoE standard, also known as PoE+ or PoE plus (ratified September 11, 2009), provides up to 25.5 W of power. Some vendors have announced products that claim to comply with the new 802.3at standard and offer up to 51 W of power over a single cable by utilizing all four pairs in the Cat5 cable. Numerous non-standard schemes had been used prior to PoE standardization to provide power over Ethernet cabling.

At 44v that's only a little over 1A per 4 sets of pairs. So 250mA per pair is not a lot at all, really and gets you 50W of power with no problem.
John_T 9th August 2010, 11:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
just how much power can be delivered through PoE?

by the specs, it seems over 50w? that a lot for data carrying wires.

I think I may have misunderstood you - did you mean the specs of the PC would be needing over 50W?

If you did mean the PC, I don't think it would need anywhere near that much to be honest. The largest power draw would surely be the screen, and Viewsonic already sell 19" LED screens that only draw 15W, (VX1932wm) - so these smaller screens would surely take less still.

That being the case, and taking capnPedro's figures into account, it does seem something of an oversight not to include at least some form of low powered sound - even if it were just a headphone socket.

Still think it's a great idea in principle though.
javaman 9th August 2010, 12:19 Quote
Surely an ARM CPU would of been better? After all ARm are the most efficient but it may leave you with the problem of making sure software doesn't become to heavy for it but look at the smartphone and ultra portable market. The best example is the ipad which uses something similar to snapdragon perfectly fine.
capnPedro 9th August 2010, 12:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by javaman
Surely an ARM CPU would of been better?

x86 compatibility. They wouldn't sell a single unit to the education or business sectors if Windows* won't run on it.


* And we're not talking about CE here, either. And schools would want Novell NetWare to run out of the box too.
Xir 9th August 2010, 13:43 Quote
...sound takes up that much power?
cgthomas 9th August 2010, 13:56 Quote
but the question is will it play Crysis? please tell me
rickysio 9th August 2010, 14:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cgthomas
but the question is will it play Crysis? please tell me

No.
adam_bagpuss 9th August 2010, 15:53 Quote
its a good idea but im not convinced of the savings really as you need a backbone POE system ie.e a rather large POE managed switch costing around £300-400 for 24 port and thats using the 802.3af standard not the new which it would require
paisa666 9th August 2010, 16:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by adam_bagpuss
its a good idea but im not convinced of the savings really as you need a backbone POE system ie.e a rather large POE managed switch costing around £300-400 for 24 port and thats using the 802.3af standard not the new which it would require

If the LAN network has been alrady implemented, it would be more espensive as it would require new SW wich supports PoE (even tho its not that traumatic).

For new network implementations its more than welcome as it would save a good amount of energy. I think it could be very well used in office eniroments too, if the software used its mostly server-client based even better!!

And its almost obvious there will be new home routers with PoE technology soon enough for this kind of PC's :)
kzinti1 9th August 2010, 19:19 Quote
Well,aren't WE all full of OURselves?
When I read this article my 1st thought was that there are a lot of villages in 3rd world countries that are run on only one or two generators that would find this concept extremely appealing!
But, no. All you can think about is if mommy and daddy will stop bitching about all the power you're using playing those damned video-games at all hours.
What a bunch of self-absorbed drooling cretins you all are.
sheninat0r 9th August 2010, 19:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kzinti1
Well,aren't WE all full of OURselves?
When I read this article my 1st thought was that there are a lot of villages in 3rd world countries that are run on only one or two generators that would find this concept extremely appealing!
But, no. All you can think about is if mommy and daddy will stop bitching about all the power you're using playing those damned video-games at all hours.
What a bunch of self-absorbed drooling cretins you all are.

Villages in third-world countries with spare generator power and ethernet sockets? Right. Get off your high horse and stop pretending that because you thought of the starving children first, you're the only one here with morals. Some of us prefer practicality and reality, you know?
chrisb2e9 9th August 2010, 22:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheninat0r
Quote:
Originally Posted by kzinti1
Well,aren't WE all full of OURselves?

Villages in third-world countries with spare generator power and ethernet sockets? Right. Get off your high horse and stop pretending that because you thought of the starving children first, you're the only one here with morals. Some of us prefer practicality and reality, you know?

when I first read it, I thought of this:
http://familyguy.wikia.com/wiki/Bono
tried to find a video, but no luck.
EvilMerc 10th August 2010, 01:22 Quote
Just how much would a headphone jack cost in terms of power, surely next to nothing? An ever so slightly dimmer screen would make up any potential shortfall, right?
BLC 10th August 2010, 11:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kzinti1
Well,aren't WE all full of OURselves?
When I read this article my 1st thought was that there are a lot of villages in 3rd world countries that are run on only one or two generators that would find this concept extremely appealing!
But, no. All you can think about is if mommy and daddy will stop bitching about all the power you're using playing those damned video-games at all hours.
What a bunch of self-absorbed drooling cretins you all are.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheninat0r
Villages in third-world countries with spare generator power and ethernet sockets? Right. Get off your high horse and stop pretending that because you thought of the starving children first, you're the only one here with morals. Some of us prefer practicality and reality, you know?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh2sWSVRrmo


Getting back to the point.

I think this is a really cool idea. Although the price-point seems a little high for educational purposes, given that it's likely that many schools would have to overhaul their network infrastructure to deliver PoE.

However it could be a very good thing for the business market. The company I work for employs around 140,000 people in the UK and the vast majority of them (I'd say over 70-80%) all use a computer. We also use a company-wide IP Telephony system that uses PoE; we therefore already have most of the infrastructure to make use of a system like this. The energy savings alone would be vast (albeit rather offset by the initial investment cost) - instead of two mains outlets used by each machine, it'd use only one PoE port and require vastly less energy. Plus it'd be a good thing for sysadmins running system-wide updates - not everyone leaves their machine on like they're supposed to, and remote wake-up won't work if a PC is powered off.
chiphead 12th August 2010, 04:07 Quote
We just installed 30 of these PoE Computers on our clean-room factory floor, and it saved us a nice $25k on the project by nixing the electrical contractor portion. Surprisingly, these little Atom dual-cores can run all of our mfg apps no problem, although fortunately most are pretty thin apps and MS Office is about the most resource intensive thing we run on the floor.

We had a few PoE Computers left over, so we deployed them in our Cafe break area. We re-enabled the Audio in the bios, and they still run fine over PoE. I was curious and plugged one into a Kill-a-watt meter, and did notice it went from about 22W up to 25W when I had the sound cranking, but it is still well under the 36W provided from the PoE injector. It is pretty slick that a modern PC can run on 22W of power... I guess I earn some positive Karma for reducing our carbon footprint :-)
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