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Brad Fitzpatrick

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Slow computer [Jun. 28th, 2005|09:12 pm]
Brad Fitzpatrick

I occasionally notice that my computer is old:
papag:~ $ cat /proc/cpuinfo 
processor       : 0
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
cpu family      : 6
model           : 8
model name      : Pentium III (Coppermine)
stepping        : 6
cpu MHz         : 798.287
cache size      : 256 KB

And only 750 MB of memory.

But you can't beat absolutely silent, ya know? Once you go silent, no computer works for me anymore.

I really need to use one of the other (much faster, much louder) machines in my house, since I've given up on "silent computing" systems which never are.

I think the answer is:
-- USB keyboard and mouse (done)
-- USB extender over Cat5
-- DVI over fiber or something
-- audio.... maybe my USB audio DA converter would work? not sure the bandwidth on those USB over Cat5 things, but should work considering how piss-slow regular USB is.

[User Picture]From: edm
2005-06-29 05:11 am (UTC)

Possible audio solutions:

  • use digital audio and run it over cat-5 (at a guess you should be okay for say 5-10 metres); you'll need some cat-5 <-> coax adapters
  • use digital audio and run it over fibre (again I'd guess 5-20 metres)
  • have something encode the audio (at least to wave files) and stream it across the net/wireless to a slim devices player; 48kbps stereo shouldn't have much impact on 'net usage, but you may lose a little quality reencoding the audio
  • run some sort of dummy audio driver that just pumps wave format audio out for something like the slim devices software to pick up (ie, no reencoding)
  • run line-level audio through cat-5 pairs into a receiver (should be okay for a short distance, although beware of running it near "noisy" lines, as you won't have much noise margin)
  • run speaker level audio through cat-5 pairs (should be okay providing the volume isn't pushed too high, but beware there's not much headroom)

That said, it's possible to have a truely silent computer. But not a fast, truely silent computer. The only way to get truely silent is slow enough that none of the CPU, video card, motherboard chipset, or powersupply need fans. And no local disk. I had a 200MHz machine that I used as a silent computer that was like that -- so quiet the loudest thing in the room was the CRT quietly humming away to itself.

FWIW, laptops with speedstep and auto-parking hard drives can get pretty close to quiet, providing the workload is usually relatively low so that the CPU/chipset fans stop. And other than video playback there's not much I need to do locally that needs a lot of CPU power -- virtually all my work can be/is done in ssh sessions anyway.


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[User Picture]From: brad
2005-06-29 05:16 am (UTC)
Squeezebox! I can't believe I didn't think of that. I don't need blips and beeps anyway... just mp3s.

Oh, maybe audio for video files. But still, solvable.
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