First Look: Intel's UltraSlim Effort Packs Big Opportunity For PCs

With Intel’s DH61AG, mini-ITX motherboard system builders and Tier 1 PC makers should see their best opportunity in years to drive migration to the next generation of processing and desktop storage, not to mention a major boost in price-performance. That should answer concerns that personal computers will become obsolete in an era of iPads and other tablets.

Intel’s DH61AG

To provide a glimpse at the power of its new technology, Intel provided the CRN Test Center with an un-branded demonstration model All-in-One PC, built with a DH61AG and a Core i5 240OT at 2.70 GHz. It was built with an Intel SSD 310 Series boot drive with 40 GB of capacity and a Western Digital 1 TB drive. Windows 7 Professional 64-bit was preloaded on the system.

It came built in an AiO form factor with a 21.5-inch LCD, which supported finger-based touch.

Using Primate Labs’ Geekbench benchmarking software, the system ran up a score of 9036, which puts it in the upper echelon of PCs that we’ve reviewed.

Sponsored post

What does the motherboard support?

On this unit, it was enough to support 4 USB 2.0 slots, two USB 3.0 slots, an SD card port, VGA, HDMI, DVI-I, Sata and eSata. It was built with 802.11n connectivity, as well as a Gigabit Ethernet port. So there are no compromises.

Running with a minimal workload, the system drew 46 watts of power – more than we’d like to see but, given the performance, it’s fine. Consider: just three years ago, only a server would provide that degree of performance at about five times the power draw – so it looks positioned fairly well for a coming upgrade cycle.

The DH61AG board is the type of transformational piece of technology that most of the market will never see on its face, but which could have a broad and long-lasting impact. While tablet sales are on fire and dominating wallet share discussions now in IT, the fact is that tablets have neither the on-board storage to support the volumes of data (photos, videos, audio, scans, etc.) that they will create, nor will they have access to the bandwidth that would make it all easily integrate with cloud-base storage.

By supporting such a broad array of media and devices, and by doing it in such an efficient form factor, the DH61AG can provide the channel with the means to provide systems that directly compete with Apple’s iMac – as well as provide compelling price-performance in the Windows arena. (The board and Core i5 together amount to about $300 combined in street pricing.)

All components are now available through distributors. Importantly, there are All-in-One chassis that are available to support this platform that are available via distribution. According to Intel, distributor ASI is currently shipping an AiO chassis from ECS, while Ingram Micro is shipping one from MiTAC. All components necessary for construction of an AiO using the DH61AG platform are available to system builders through distribution.

Intel’s technology should be enough to put to rest those clamoring about the end of the PC era. It’s more like an “Extra-PC Era,” and it will provide better storage, better performance, take up less space and reduce cost and complexity to an extent never before seen.