Compact computing systems person gained important marketplace stock complete nan past decade. Improvements successful nan capacity per watt metric of processors person enabled nan replacement of bulky desktop PCs by ultra-compact form-factor (UCFF) machines pinch a 4 in. x 4 in. footprint. Motivated by IoT applications astatine nan edge, immoderate companies specified arsenic Shuttle started creating x86 systems successful sub-4x4 form-factors utilizing Intel's Apollo Lake processors. ECS was 1 of nan first mainstream vendors to salary attraction to this conception pinch their LIVA Q Series utilizing Intel's Atom bid and AMD's first-generation Ryzen Embedded SoCs. With nan preamble of much power-efficient platforms, Asian manufacturers specified arsenic ACEMAGIC, GMKtec, and MinisForum person besides entered this micro-PC marketplace pinch a wider scope of processor choices.
Since nan preamble of Silverthorne Atom processors successful 2008, Intel has been maintaining abstracted microarchitectures successful different merchandise families to span a wider capacity / powerfulness ratio range. As a result, consumers could either opt for a low-power low-cost level sacrificing connected capacity pinch Atom-class CPUs aliases spell for a much performant Core-class CPU, albeit astatine a higher costs pinch immoderate sacrifice connected nan powerfulness ratio front. From 2008 to 2020, these remained chopped merchandise families. However, nan preamble of hybrid CPUs (starting pinch nan short-lived Lakefield) saw cores based connected some microarchitectures to beryllium placed connected nan aforesaid die. The Tremont microarchitecture (developed arsenic portion of nan Atom-family) made its debut successful Lakefield earlier gaining wider marketplace beingness done Jasper Lake, Elkhart Lake, and different merchandise families. Its successor (Gracemont) is adopting a akin trajectory. After its preamble successful Alder Lake, it underwent further refinement successful Raptor Lake.
Intel introduced nan Alder Lake-N (ADL-N) merchandise family to return complete Jasper Lake's domiciled successful nan cost-conscious low-power PC market. It is fundamentally an Alder Lake processor pinch each nan capacity cores removed, and a pared-down integrated GPU. As ADL-N ramps up and Jasper Lake winds down, we are seeing products based connected some families being actively sold successful nan market. We took advantage of this opportunity to root 2 micro-PCs - nan ECS LIVA Q3D, and nan ACEMAGIC T8 Plus - and put them done our information regular to study nan benefits of ADL-N's Gracemont microarchitecture complete Jasper Lake's Tremont. This reappraisal presents a elaborate study of nan results on pinch a chat of nan tradeoffs progressive successful pursuing a smaller-than-UCFF footprint.
Introduction and Product Impressions
Advancements successful processor powerfulness ratio and capacity person resulted successful sub-15W TDP SoCs becoming powerful capable to switch bulky desktops for galore use-cases. Intel's NUC lineup kickstarted this inclination successful nan early 2010s, pinch nan 4 in. x 4 in. ultra-compact form-factor (UCFF) becoming nan de-facto modular for specified systems. This size was arrived astatine keeping nan I/O requirements, disk thrust sizes, and easiness of committee creation / assembly successful mind. Since that time, some retention and representation technologies person evolved significantly. Most systems usage M.2 SSDs nowadays, a marked displacement from nan 2.5" drives communal successful those days. While SODIMMs proceed to beryllium nan prime for systems offering representation upgrade capabilities, modern processors person started to merge LPDDR4 / LPDDR5 support. This has resulted successful a number of systems pinch soldered representation connected board. These factors person contributed to immoderate vendors attempting to research pinch micro-PCs - systems having a sub-4x4 footprint.
ECS LIVA Q3D
ECS has remained commited to micro-PCs since nan preamble of nan Apollo Lake-based LIVA Q1L. The institution has followed it up pinch nan LIVA Q2 based connected nan Gemini Lake refresh SoCs, nan Q3 Plus based connected nan first-generation Ryzen Embedded SoCs, and astir recently, nan Jasper Lake-based LIVA Q3D. Compared to a accepted UCFF system, nan LIVA Q3D bid makes a mates of tradeoffs. Instead of SODIMMs, nan strategy uses soldered LPDDR4X RAM. A M.2 SSD slot is avoided by integrating an eMMC footwear thrust connected nan board. This is complemented by a built-in microSDXC paper reader. These let nan LIVA Q3D to beryllium very compact. The 74mm x 74mm x 34.6mm (a measurement of conscionable 0.19L) strategy weighs conscionable 174g.
In summation to nan main unit, nan LIVA Q3D package comes pinch a VESA equine and corresponding screws, and a 36W (12V @ 3A) wall wart. The powerfulness adapter has a replaceable plug, and ECS provides US, UK, and EU adapters. The assemblage beneath provides a broad look astatine nan chassis creation and I/O ports placement. The teardown pictures provides insights into nan internals of nan unit.
The teardown pictures successful nan supra assemblage show that ECS has adopted a dual-board strategy for nan system. While nan main committee has nan SoC package, RAM, and eMMC, on pinch nan audio jack, nan daughterboard has each of nan different I/Os including nan USB and LAN ports.
A coagulated power descend is mounted pinch screws connected apical of nan Jasper Lake package, and complemented by a 40mm Cooler Master blower instrumentality to return retired nan power successful emblematic notebook style. The CMOS artillery is sandwiched betwixt nan 2 boards and a metallic shield ensures electrical interference mitigation betwixt nan components connected nan 2 boards.
ACEMAGIC T8 Plus
The T8 Plus is ACEMAGIC's first effort astatine creating a micro-PC. Like nan ECS LIVA Q3D, nan T8 Plus besides utilizes soldered RAM. However, acknowledgment to nan newer representation support successful ADL-N, nan committee adopts LPDDR5 RAM. A semblance of upgradability is maintained, acknowledgment to nan usage of a M.2 2242 SATA SSD arsenic a footwear drive. The 89.4mm x 89.4mm x 43.4mm (0.35L) strategy weighs 205g.
In summation to nan main unit, nan T8 Plus package comes pinch a HDMI cable, wall equine pinch associated screws, an personification manual, and a 30W (12V @ 2.5A) geo-specific wall wart. The assemblage beneath provides a look astatine nan chassis creation and I/O ports placement. Teardown pictures providing insights into nan internals are besides included.
The pictures show nan beingness of a raised conception connected nan underside. This information conception besides includes perforations that let for cool aerial to beryllium drawn successful earlier exiting done nan copper power spreader's fins. Unlike nan LIVA Q3D, nan T8 Plus uses a azygous committee design.
The RAM and nan SoC package are nether nan power descend / fans, while nan M.2 2230 slot for nan WLAN / BT card, and nan M.2 2242 SATA SSD slot are connected nan different broadside (closer to nan apical panel). The pre-installed SSD is from FuturePath, but we were incapable to make retired nan sanction of nan controller shaper contempt nan readiness of nan logo successful nan last image of nan supra gallery. The CMOS artillery and nan WLAN antennae are affixed to nan underside of nan chassis apical panel.
Both systems came fresh pinch Windows OS pre-installed. The afloat specifications of nan 2 reappraisal samples (as tested) are summarized successful nan array below.
|ACEMAGIC T8 Plus||ECS LIVA Q3D|
|Processor||Intel Processor N95
Alder Lake-N 4C/4T, 1.7 - 3.4 GHz
Intel 7, 6MB L3, 15W
(PL1 = 15W / PL2 = 15W)
|Intel Pentium Silver N6000
Jasper Lake 4C/4T, 1.1 - 3.3 GHz
Intel 10nm, 4MB L3, 6W
(PL1 = 10W / PL2 = 25W)
|Memory||Samsung K3LKBKB0BM-MGCP LPDDR5-3200 (Single-Channel / 4 x16)
36-32-32-68 @ 3200 MHz
|Micron MT53E1G32D2NP-046 LPDDR4X-2933 (Single-Channel / x32)
28-27-27-62 @ 2933 MHz
|Graphics||Intel UHD Graphics
(16EU @ 1200 MHz)
|Intel UHD Graphics 605
(32EU @ 350 - 850 MHz)
|Disk Drive(s)||Futurepath FPT310M4SSD512G
(512 GB; SATA III 6 Gbps;)
(?? TLC NAND; ?? Controller)
(128 GB; eMMC 5.1 HS400;)
(3D TLC; Phison PS8229 Controller)
|Networking||2x GbE RJ-45 (Realtek RTL8168/8111)
Realtek RTL8821CE Wi-Fi 5 / Bluetooth 4.2 (1x1 802.11ac - 433 Mbps)
|1x GbE RJ-45 (Realtek RTL8168/8111)
Realtek RTL8822CE Wi-Fi 5 (2x2 802.11ac - 867 Mbps)
|Audio||3.5mm Audio Jack
Digital audio and bitstreaming support complete HDMI Outputs
|Digital Audio and Bitstreaming Support complete HDMI and DisplayPort Outputs|
|Video||3x HDMI 2.1 (up to 4Kp60)||1x HDMI 2.0a
1x DisplayPort 1.4a
|Miscellaneous I/O Ports||3x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) Type-A||2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (Front)
1x USB 2.0 Type-A (Front)
1x microSDXC (Side)
|Operating System||Windows 11 Enterprise (22000.2360)||Windows 11 Enterprise (22000.2124)|
|Pricing||(Street Pricing connected Sep 18th, 2023)
US $207 ($177) (with constricted usage / constricted clip coupon UQSYLW9R)
|US $285 (w/ 128 GB eMMC, 4GB LPDDR4X, and OS)|
|Full Specifications||ACEMAGIC T8 Plus Specifications||ECS LIVA Q3D Specifications|
In nan adjacent section, we return a look astatine nan strategy setup and travel it up pinch a elaborate level analysis.
Setup Notes and Platform Analysis