April 16, 2006

Technology Brief: Power Over Ethernet

New motherboards such as the EPIA EN are drawing, during playback, no more than 14.3 watts of power. New transformers for POE are providing up to 25W. That means not only video cameras, access points and voip options start to emerge (albeit where is my LCD?)

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Some people might have noticed that I updated our PowerSimulator a couple of weeks ago to include the latest power-consumption figures for the EPIA EN motherboards. As always I took the figures from VIA's Operating Guidelines which can now be found in our download section right here. When I first looked at the OG for the EPIA EN I couldn't believe my eyes, those numbers had to be wrong. The EPIA EN15000 (with the 1.5GHz C7 CPU) can't be just using 16.8W during DVD playback, right? And the EN12000E has a maximum power consumption of just 14.3W - impressive! So compared to the EPIA SP motherboards that gives the EN series up to a 50% improvement in max. power draw under load. With the expected 20% performance increase over the C3 processors these new boards certainly look like a winner to me! Comparing the C7 platform to the Luke CoreFusion technology on the Nano-ITX motherboards reveals that they're roughly equal, of course with the earlier mentioned performance (and clock) improvements that come with the newer technology. So, it seems like all we need now is a C7 based Nano-ITX motherboard... *hint*hint*

But let me take this a step further. Two weeks ago National Semiconductor introduced a Power over Ethernet [wikipedia] chip capable of handling up to 25W. Can you see where I'm going?

You can read the complete mini-editorial by clicking on "read more"...

Just think about this. How great would it be if you were able to power and use a Mini-ITX / Nano-ITX / Pico-ITX / SBC setup with a single cable? Today we can basically go wireless with most of our peripherals except for the monitor. Or every other device that needs more power than what 2 AA-batteries can provide. But with PoE and the LM5072's minimum voltage of 9V it should be very easy to have a realiable 12V power-source all around the office or house. Just hook that baby up to a system which uses iTuner's PicoPSU and you've got a very small (and neat) power-solution for all your <25W computing needs. While internal power-supplies in Mini-ITX systems and other products like the Apple Mac mini have significantly decreased in size in the past years, the external AC-DC adapters have becoming bigger and more annoying than ever before. With PoE and agreements between different manufacturers it suddenly wouldn't matter anymore whether you're using an EPIA TC, a Commell LV-677DC, an industrial 12V SBC or a VoomPC, all you'd need is a power-outlet in your wall and you'd be ready to go. While onboard power-supplies have always been a controversial topic I'm convinced that the advantages of PoE could help to integrate this technology into a broader range of products. As an article by the BCC put it:

"Power-Over-Ethernet could end up being a universal power supply for much computer hardware as the cables and connectors for it are the same all over the world. By contrast power sockets and plugs differ by country."


Posted by keefner at April 16, 2006 10:16 AM