In the never-ending pursuit of better, faster, cheaper, Intel is a master. The new Pineview-D Atom processors, the D410 and D510, were just launched in Q1 of this year, but Intel was quick to follow these with the D425 and D525 in Q2. Being pin-for-pin compatible with the D410/D510, these are essentially drop-in replacement parts that offer a modest increase in performance with no additional cost, at both the motherboard development/tooling level and the component level. The TDP has remained the same as well.
While the 140 MHz CPU speed bump may not seem huge, every little bit helps on systems that don’t have a ton of overhead. Additionally, the added DDR3-800 (SO-DIMM only) support will help keep overall system prices in check as DDR3 becomes more common, and thus more affordable, than DDR2. Boards that were originally designed for the D410/D510 won’t see DDR3 benefits, however, as the cost of redesigning the board will be too high to justify for most manufacturers.
Intel was quick to launch a new Mini-ITX motherboard with the D525 and DDR3-800 SO-DIMM, the D525MW “Mount Washington.” Being a Granite State kid myself, I like this new moniker a lot more than the “Mount Olive” D510 board. In addition to the new CPU and RAM, the Mount Washington also adds external RS-232 and parallel ports.
Jetway is rapidly updating their products with the new NC98-525, NC96FL-525, and the soon-to-arrive NF96FL-525.
The NC98-525 features the D525 CPU with the NM10 controller hub and ION2 graphics. With a low TDP, HDMI, and onboard 12-volt DC power it is a great candidate for HTPC use. Add the AW-NB037H PCIe Mini card for wireless data connectivity and Bluetooth for additional remote control flexibility.
The NC96FL-525, which just arrived at Logic Supply the other day, similarly touts the D525 CPU paired with the NM10 controller hub, but sans the NVIDIA GPU. It also has onboard DC power but differs in terms of overall feature set from the NC98. The NC96 is like a souped up Little Falls boards (yeah, remember those?). It has a parallel port off the back along with VGA, RS-232 COM, four USB ports, and audio. It gets more interesting with the onboard I/O—offering four SATA connectors with RAID 0, 1, JBOD (only two of those connectors actually support RAID through a separate controller chip); PCI and PCIe Mini Card slots; LVDS; and solid capacitors.
The NF96FL-525 is really where it’s at. This is soon becoming one of our staple mainboards, providing ample I/O capabilities at a decent price-point. It has the 120-pin adapter connector for expansion daughterboards (or add-on modules) allowing for an easy and affordable step up to a compact firewall (go with the 3x NIC card) without having to compromise the overall footprint. (The daughterboards face over the mainboard, placing the additional I/O right in-line with the backplane. No need for separate backplates, either.) The NF96FL also is missing digital output, forcing you to be happy with VGA. It does have an eSATA port off the back for additional storage options and it has a slew of onboard pin headers giving you LVDS, GPIO, and S/PDIF.
MSI canceled their D510 board so that they could redesign around the D525 with DDR3 memory. It will be one of the most full-featured Atom boards available when it arrives in early 2011.
Tony Fiset is a previous Product Manager at Logic Supply. Tony specialized in mainboards, processors, and barebones and has application oversight in the mobile and industrial automation verticals. Tony has a degree in mechanical engineering. He has a personal passion for HTPC projects and fine scotch.