Platform Analysis

Previous generation nettops were mostly based on the Atom D525 / Atom D2700 CPUs. In order to make the graphics performance and HTPC aspects attractive, the ION platform was introduced (combining these anemic CPUs with a low-end NVIDIA GPU). Despite the improvements enabled by the GPU in the ION platform, the Atom CPUs held back the performance quite a bit. Intel hardly paid any attention to improving the performance of the CPU cores in the Atom processors, reusing the Bonnell microarchitecture for multiple generations. In the move from 32nm to 22nm, Intel finally realized that the microarchitecture for the Atom lineup needed a major upheaval.

Silvermont into the Picture

The increasing competition from smartphones and tablets made Intel rethink their strategy for the Atom lineup. The ageing Bonnell microarchitecture was replaced by Silvermont, bringing out of order execution and other improvements into the picture. Intel also moved from a PCH-based setup to integrating all the I/O aspects along with the Atom CPU cores into a SoC. With so many code names associated with Silvermont-based products, we thought it would be best to present a bulleted list indicating the markets which Intel hopes to address with each of them.

  • Bay Trail
    • Bay Trail-T: Atom Z36xx and Z37xx series for tablets
    • Bay Trail-M: Pentium and Celeron branding (N-series) for notebooks and AIOs
    • Bay Trail-D: Penitum and Celeron branding (J-series) for desktops
    • Bay Trail-I: Atom E38xx for the embedded market
  • Merrifield
    • Atom Z34xx: Low-end to mid-range smartphones
  • Moorefield
    • Atom Z35xx: Premium smartphones
  • Avoton
    • Atom C2xx0: Microservers and cloud storage
  • Rangeley
    • Atom C2xx8: Network and communication infrastructure

The various possible components in a Bay Trail SoC are given in the diagram below.

Depending on the target market (as specified in the bulleted list above), some of the components in the above block diagram are cut out. For example, Bay Trail-T does away with the SATA and PCIe lanes. Bay Trail-M is more interesting to us in this article, as the ECS LIVA's Celeron N2806 belongs to that family. It pretty much takes the original Bay Trail configuration as-is.

ECS LIVA - Motherboard Design

The Celeron N2806 used in the ECS LIVA is a 2C/2T solution with a base frequency of 1.6 GHz and a burst speed of 2.0 GHz. With a maximum TDP of 4.5 W and a SDP (scenario design power) of 2.5 W, it is a perfect fit for a passively cooled system. For the purpose of cost-optimization, ECS decided to avoid using the SATA ports. Out of the four PCIe 2.0 lanes, only one is used by the Realtek RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. The USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports are used as-is. The eMMC (SDIO0) port is used for storage purposes, while the other SDIO port is used to create the M.2 socket to which the Wi-Fi module is connected.

In effect, ECS has made judicious use of the available I/O to provide consumers with a mix of essential external ports at an optimal price point.

Introduction and Setup Impressions Performance Metrics
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  • djfourmoney - Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - link

    Tell the truth. Even video editing is marginal in Linux. Many people don't have the disk space, don't know what a NAS is, routers with NAS capability are towards the high end of the consumer market so no BluRay playback, you would have to rip the disk with the proper software and then store the file someplace.

    Of course you could use the usenet, but no further details from me and most people barely understand torrents, never mind usenet...

    The reason why the iPhone is popular because it's dead simple to use, hardware is barely touted and it's all about the apps and accessories. Just when you think hardware makers would standardize the location of the mini USB port on Android phones, a whole slew of cheap devices throw cold water on that.

    Chromebooks works because Google Chrome works as a browser with apps.... Considering how much I use Chrome, I am going to use this laptop I am typing on (quad core AMD) for desktop replacement, Sony Vegas supports AMD hardware for faster encoding, so does Studio 17.

    Just remove the hybrid drive and replace it with a 1TB SSD as prices continue to drop, use a USB 3.0 512GB External SSD for archiving footage/mobile storage. Currently 8GB Dual Channel @1600Hz, I could upgrade to 16GB @1600 as well.

    Once that happens, one of the larger Chromebooks would be perfect for internet browsing, streaming,etc.

    Though I need a laptop or Surface/Ultrabook type device for DJ'ing.

    Still like the Liva as a x86 Pi killer.

    Reply
  • Soul_Est - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    If you really tried to learn and use Cinelerra (Pro level), Blender, OpenShot, Pitivi, or Avidemux, then you cannot say that video editing under Linux is 'marginal'. Reply
  • davolfman - Friday, July 18, 2014 - link

    Could you test Steam in home streaming at least wired with little systems like these? I think that's an increasingly less rare use case. Reply
  • dylan522p - Friday, July 18, 2014 - link

    It works really well. I run it on a quadcore baytrail system with teh same iGPU, but it only sees about 25% usage so you should be fine Reply
  • wireframed - Saturday, July 19, 2014 - link

    At least in theory, anything that can decode h.264 at whatever resolution you want to display should work fine for In-Home streaming. The client PC isn't really doing anything but sending controller input and decoding the resulting video stream. There's probably a tiny bit of overhead from the Steam API but it should be neglible. Reply
  • abufrejoval - Friday, July 18, 2014 - link

    This should be a pretty nice Android box and a more flexible alternative to Hardkernel Odroids, especially with the 64-bit L(ollipop?) release.

    I've so far been using Minit-ITX variant with the J1900 Bay-Trail, which are quite a bit bigger and I've been yearning for something which has everything soldered on so it can be made smaller.

    Those are pretty good already in terms of (Android!) game performance and certainly good enough for surfing, Android Office or as a thin client (RDP/Citrix/Splashtop) to some big iron.

    For Android the 32GB eMMC are really none too bad and for anything beyond there is always USB 3 and network.

    But I'd also want 4GB or even 8GB perhaps as optional configs, because the cost difference is so small it shouldn't matter and one might actually run a full Linux on there, just for the fun of it.

    With regards to the power usage, I found no measurable difference on the J1900 between 4GB and 8GB (one or two modules) of DRAM, so that shouldn't matter.

    Dunno if eMMC 4.4 is a platform limitation of BayTrail or just what they put there, but eMMC 5.0 would give much better performance with diminishing price premiums.

    Even with 4GB DRAM it should stay below $149 to sell like hotcakes.
    Reply
  • TerdFerguson - Friday, July 18, 2014 - link

    If the device is primarily intended to be a set-top HTPC device, why doesn't it come with a built-in programmable IR receiver and blaster? Reply
  • Blassster - Friday, July 18, 2014 - link

    Would this be too underpowered to run POE ipcam software thats stores the video to a NAS or external drive and also allow Internet streaming of a select camera? Let's say 4 1080p cameras (or even 720p). Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, July 18, 2014 - link

    I'm more interested in the $250 Gigabyte Brix with the AMD APU in it, seems like a fair bit of GPU and CPU bang for your buck for that price. Reply
  • JadedMan - Saturday, July 19, 2014 - link

    Any idea if this machine play a typical 3D Bluray properly? Reply

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