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Pentiums and Celerons and Atoms, Oh My!

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#1 StarmanDan



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Posted 17 May 2018 - 11:24 AM

So I've been waaaay out of the loop as far as cpu tech goes.  I'm wanting to build a mount side computer for mount control, image acquisition, plate solving, guiding... the basic stuff to operate all my gear.  Post processing will be done via my desktop.  Looking at the nano/pico ITX form factor as many of these can operate off 12VDC without the need for a power brick.  Despite my research, I think I'm even more confused than I was when I started in terms of what CPU would best fit my needs.  My only concern is the plate solving.  I have an old first or 2nd gen i3 laptop I currently use and am pleased with it's performance, but am unsure how the newer "low end" processors stack up to even an older but faster processor.  Of the three intel cpus I listed, it appears that the Celeron would be the best of the three but I have no real world experience to judge by.  Anyone have any advice or opinions on the matter that would help?

#2 photoracer18


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Posted 17 May 2018 - 11:50 AM

Current i3, i5, and i7 processors are faster and have more cores than the first and second gen. Only caveat is that micro/pico PCs generally have slower clock cycle rates than current laptops due to the lower power requirements. You might check Tom's Hardware Guide for the latest CPU ratings as I find that is the quickest way to find out what level you might get by with.

#3 S.Boerner


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Posted 17 May 2018 - 12:27 PM

I use the cheaper of Intel Compute Stick for imaging.  A typical 6000x4000 pixel DSLR image plate solves in SGP in less than a minute with possibly 3 solves needed to get centered.  I don't autoguide but I've seen reports that PHD2 runs on my Stick successfully. 


If you are only going to want to image a few targets in a night you'll have no problems since you'll only be spending a few minutes getting centered and the majority of the night gathering data. Your combined image download time may take longer than you'll waste with the plate solves.  If you're after 40-50 variable stars you'll probably want something faster.

Edited by S.Boerner, 17 May 2018 - 12:30 PM.

#4 Ian Robinson

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 12:49 PM

Check Ebay , you can probably pick up  11" or 12" i5 notebook secondhand for a lot cheaper than you can build your own dedicated mountside computer. I've seen them selling for $200 secondhand.

#5 mashirts


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Posted 17 May 2018 - 12:53 PM

Google the processor full name and add "benchmark" you will see a website that lists the benchmark speed compared to other processors.

#6 bluesteel


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Posted 17 May 2018 - 02:07 PM

If you're looking at running the rig off of 12 VDC, then efficiency is the name of the game in those processors.  Not only do they need to suck less energy, they also need to produce less heat due to the much smaller enclosures and heatsinks usually going with the small form factor cases.

#7 mclewis1


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Posted 17 May 2018 - 03:14 PM

Lots of choices for 12v small form factor PCs. You should differentiate between the really small "pico" type of units like the PC sticks which really trade off performance and connectivity for form factor and the mini/micro type of units which use ITX or smaller motherboards but are housed in such a way to offer plenty of ports and less of a compromise on performance. In reality though the only units that aren't a compromise in terms of performance are the larger fan cooled units with heavy power supplies, they run high clock speed desktop CPUs. 


In the smaller form factor units you'll see similar CPUs but in lower power configurations (newer low or ultra low power chips using slightly lower clock speeds).


https://www.logicsupply.com/ or http://us.shuttle.com/ for US supplied systems

Or for lower prices there are Asian options https://www.aliexpre....22bf1b2dW3FRjL


I recently upgraded my observatory PC with a mid range 2.5Ghz i5 fanless unit. 8GB of RAM, 120GB SSD, and some real RS232 com ports. It was around $400 USD.

Edited by mclewis1, 17 May 2018 - 03:23 PM.

#8 gregj888


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Posted 17 May 2018 - 07:17 PM

I have an older Intel NUC I-3 wunning win7-pro and a core duo with Linux/win10 dual boot.


I prefer the power use and form factor of the NUC, but the the core duo is a cheap POS referb (~$135) that's intended for Linux use.  


There are a lot of options out there. The Point Of Sale systems seem to be pretty well built and smallish in form factor, but do have fans and I wouldn't try to run one off a battery.


The newer Raspberry PIs will do what you are asking, but plate solve won't be that fast and I would use Linux as the OS.  


If you plan to run windows and ASCOM I would personally get an I-3 or better...

#9 gregj888


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Posted 17 May 2018 - 09:11 PM

So here's the link to the Fry's add.  The I-3 referb at $149 will  be faster than the I-5 for single threaded applications.   The I-5 should be slightly faster if a number of processes are running.  


Ether of these under Linux or Windows should perform well enough though for Win, more memory would be nice.  




I have no relation other than as a customer.  


My view is that one of these would be a swap-out.  Buy 2-3, clone the drives and have a hot spare kind of thing.  Even if you drop in an SSD for the primary, cost is reasonable.


BTW, check online, may be cheaper places.

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