New Atom motherboard choice - Advantech



  • As an alternate to the (older) Atom MSI IM-945GSE mini-ITX board, there is a new choice from Advantech.

    http://buy.advantech.com/MiniITX-6-7-x6-7-/MiniITX/model-AIMB-212N-S6A1E.htm
    http://buy.advantech.com/MiniITX-6-7-x6-7-/MiniITX/model-AIMB-212D-S6A1E.htm

    One has the new single core N450, the other the new dual core D510.  Both have dual gigabit Intel Ethernet ports.  I wouldn't have bothered to post if they didn't!

    There is nothing wrong with the MSI board, but it does use the older N270 CPU and separate north & southbridges.  The bigger question is does the N450 model use less power than the MSI board….



  • Just a FYI.  If you don't need the D510 speed and a single core N270/N450 will work fine, then you may also be served well by the official pfSense Hacom offerings.  'Only posting it again here because I know not everyone checks out the home page.

    http://www.hacom.net/catalog/embedded/3i270d
    http://www.hacom.net//catalog/network-appliances/pfsense

    Their products are the best upgrade to an ALIX box if speed and low power are a priority (but cost isn't a factor).  Obviously, it's worth the extra $50 for Intel Ethernet.



  • Has anyone here actually tried one of the advantech boards? I am ready to replace my failing  DDRWT based router and I want to use one of these to run pfsense on. They have a built in CF slot to run pfsense on, dual Intel BG NICS, and the mini-PCIe for a wireless card to be an access point.

    If someone here can confirm that pfsense will run on it, I am going to order one next week.

    Thanks

    Bob



  • Any progress on people trying this out?
    It seems an ideal pick for pfSense, and I'm in the market as well.



  • The N450/ 510 will consume less power than the Atoms except with those running the 945GSE where the difference is very little - 1W ~ 2W less for the former.  The Advantech looks good with the onboard DC/DC conversion.  Might save more power due to efficiency as compared to running ATX PSUs (not optimized for such low loads).

    The NM10 will work with pFsense 2.0 for sure and very possibly 1.2.3 as well since the NM10 effectively shows up as ICH7 which is the same as the 945G platforms.  Note that the Advantech boards pair the chip with ICH8M instead of the NM10.

    Since the NM10 does not have native IDE support so you guys might want to check on how the CF interface is being provided for those boards using the NM10.
    Some CF to SATA bridge chips are fussy with the CF cards used (usually to do with DMA support) whilst separate IDE controllers may not be supported by pFsense.



  • So ultimately you see little reason to choose the 945GSE over the Advantec?
    I'm pretty much just looking for the "best that is out there now" for PfSense.
    All research I have done on the topic shows that dual Intel NICs is key.
    Beyond that, it's mostly a size/heat/compatibility tradeoff.
    As I'd like to go fanless, it's either the Advantec or the 945GSE – I'm not aware of anything else in the market that has two onboard Intel NICs, fanless-capable, and PfSense compatible.
    Seeing as how the Advantec is slightly newer technology, the only selling point the 945GSE has at this point is tried and true compatibility.



  • @wojtyk:

    So ultimately you see little reason to choose the 945GSE over the Advantec?
    I'm pretty much just looking for the "best that is out there now" for PfSense.
    All research I have done on the topic shows that dual Intel NICs is key.
    Beyond that, it's mostly a size/heat/compatibility tradeoff.
    As I'd like to go fanless, it's either the Advantec or the 945GSE – I'm not aware of anything else in the market that has two onboard Intel NICs, fanless-capable, and PfSense compatible.
    Seeing as how the Advantec is slightly newer technology, the only selling point the 945GSE has at this point is tried and true compatibility.

    It depends on which 945GSE you're looking at.  The MSI with dual onboard Intel GBE and DC/ DC converter will give the Advantech a good fight.
    If you're looking at others without onboard DC/DC converters, then the Advantech would be a better choice.



  • Also check out the Supermicro X7SPA boards. Dual Intel Gig-E and the -HF model has on board IPMI 2.0 for remote console/management.

    Riley



  • One issue that comes to mind (and is probably common with a number of Atom based boards): Is the data path to memory big enough to sustain the required NIC bandwidth? The Intel NICs named have PCI bus interface. Under optimum conditions a standard PCI bus MIGHT be able to SUSTAIN 1Gbps in ONE direction.

    Are the Intel NICs on a shared PCI bus? (Probably, because that is cheaper. But you'll probably need to do some more extensive research because its not common to see this level of detail in web pages describing systems.)

    I expect this system would be more than adequate for many applications but if you are looking for high sustained bit rates from the NICs it may not be the solution for you.



  • I think if you actually intend to run gigabit speed through a firewall with Squid and Snort loaded (which they list), the Atom processor will conk out before the NIC.  At that point a C2D or better is recommended.

    (In other words you are technically correct, but it probably doesn't matter.)  ;)



  • @valnar:

    (In other words you are technically correct, but it probably doesn't matter.)   ;)

    Yep, an Atom isn't going to be fast enough to exhaust the PCI bus more than likely, unless you're strictly routing and have the filter disabled.



  • @wallabybob:

    One issue that comes to mind (and is probably common with a number of Atom based boards): Is the data path to memory big enough to sustain the required NIC bandwidth? The Intel NICs named have PCI bus interface. Under optimum conditions a standard PCI bus MIGHT be able to SUSTAIN 1Gbps in ONE direction.

    Are the Intel NICs on a shared PCI bus? (Probably, because that is cheaper. But you'll probably need to do some more extensive research because its not common to see this level of detail in web pages describing systems.)

    I expect this system would be more than adequate for many applications but if you are looking for high sustained bit rates from the NICs it may not be the solution for you.

    If you're looking at the Advantech or the MSI 945GSE, then the onboard NICs are PCI-e x1 based.  In which case, you get 250MB/s per direction (for a total of 500MB/s) per NIC since PCI-e is not a parallel type bus like with PCI or PCI-X.

    That said, you'll  probably find that the ATOM/ Pineview will saturate before you can push 2Gbps even without any other services like Snort or Squid running.  Interrupts alone will soak up processing power at high throughput.

    As it is, I get about 2 ~ 2.4Mbps of throughput per 1% of processor load on both my Atom 330 (D945GCLF2) and Conroe-L 220 (Intel D201GLY2) with both running Intel MT Dual port NICs.  The bulk of the loading comes from interrupts on the NICs.
    Low throughput but large connection states/ PPS doesn't cause either processor to flinch though.  I've torrented in excess of 12,000 states and 4k pps but at 4Mbps of throughput on my D201GLY2 and saw only 2% of load - the same load as when I download at 4Mbps via 10 connections on HTTP.


Log in to reply