I had a theory that the Intel D510 CPU would be good enough for several tasks, including Linux audio (Ardour, Bristol, PureData, etc), NAS device, and HTPC (home theater PC). Not at the same time though, of course.
I bought one of the Intel D510MO boards from Logic Supply. This board isn’t going to be perfect for every task, but it is certainly perfect for some of them, and it is perfect for evaluating the CPU.
By the way, I really like Logic Supply. This board is close in price from Logic Supply as it would be from Amazon or other retailers. But, unlike Amazon (and I do get a lot from them), Logic Supply will actually give some tech support if needed, and they treated me really well with a flash device I bought from them for a previous employer.
Today, with Ubuntu 10.04.1, this board just works like a dream. It boots very quickly. Typically problematic areas, like suspend and resume just work.
Since I bought super new board with a super new graphics chipset in February, getting to this point required some patience. At this point, this isn’t a black mark against the hardware, but rather a cautionary note about buying stuff that new.
I bought this in February, when Ubuntu 9.10 was the latest. That was what I put on it first, but it would only work in VESA graphics mode. It turned out that the onboard graphics required something newer. I next tried Fedora 12. Fedora 12 would work nicely from the Live CD, but it wouldn’t see that there were any partitions on the hard drive, and it wouldn’t let me repartition the hard drive. I didn’t pursue this. I would venture to think that Fedora 13 may have fixed any issues.
Ubuntu 10.04 Alpha Just Worked out of the box, including graphics support. It is hard to complain, except about the fact that I had to use a bleeding edge version rather than the stable release, and thus there were some application stability problems. The official 10.04 release fixed the unstable programs, but at the last moment reverted the graphics support, so it was back to VESA. Argh. A few weeks later updates came that re-fixed the graphics, and things have been smooth sailing ever since. That was about 3 months of having to wait for it to really work out and put up with some glitches though.
This machine is certainly fast enough for surfing type applications, as well as Office, text editing, photo editing, etc. It is probably even fine for reasonably basic SD video editing, but I’m not certain what the competent software for doing that may be under Linux. It also works very nicely for audio applications (Ardour, Bristol, Hydrogen, etc), which I am using it for. Actually, for audio tasks, it is particularly nice due to being completely silent. Match it with a SSD and a fanless PSU, and you will have a completely silent machine with no moving parts.
Going back to the original list of tasks that this board could be for, NAS will be covered in another post since I will be trying something more adventurous by putting OpenSolaris on this machine for that job.
However, when it comes to HTPC, there is an up side and a down side. It plays SD video very nicely using Mplayer or VLC, but it is not smooth in Adobe Flash. To play HD video you will likely need an add-in decoder card, and Flash won’t support that (probably never). Since one of my primary HTPC applications is Hulu Desktop, this box ends up not being a good match for HTPC applications. For people who just want to use Myth or XBMC, I believe it could be a good match.