Here's what really surprises me. Since my last update, the number on the yearometer has changed twice. It amazes me how fast time can go past when you're not paying it any attention. Still, it's at least not quite been two years. I guess it's appropriate to give a quick summary. I am still alive, and doing well. I'm still a geek, obsessed with chic. My server has shrunk from a rack of enterprise grade machines to a home-built Atom tower in a pink case. The guitar count is up to eleven, the sofa count is up to one and the monitor that got soaked in homebrew still works. Which brings me on to the main purpose of this article: the computer that monitor is connected to.
So that image shows two machines, conveniently the two that we care about. The machine at the front is my performance workstation. It has Intel's best-ever chip, the Celeron G1610. This is the slowest desktop class chip they sell, it has a TDP of 55W instead of the 35W I'd prefer and it only supports DDR3 1333 and not DDR3 1600. But at £35 for a intel CPU that gives 66% of the single threaded performance of the cheapest current generation i3, for only 40% of the price - it's a fantastic chip for people like me running tasks with little parallelisation. The machine behind is the web server, running an Atom 330. It's an almost silent machine which draws between 30 and 40 watts. Perfect for the use I put it to; this machine is my web server, my gateway, my terminal server from work and my Minecraft server when I get bored at home.
Let's take a look inside the workstation, which may be the most sparsely populated workstation anyone's built in a decade. That pair of hard drives are 80GiB 7200rm drives. They're not big, they're not fast and at £9, they weren't very cheap per gigabyte. No doubt, you'll be asking why I thought they would be the best purchase for my machine. The answer is pretty simple; while not good value - they were low cost. They also only need to serve as boot drives; most of my data is stored on servers and a motley collection of flash drives and external hard disks. The power supply is a Corsair CX430. I wanted the modular version, but Amazon went out of stock right before I ordered and I was feeling impatient. It's an efficient and quiet supply, which should last a long time. Given that I try and build my machines to be efficient in terms of power draw, the computer should never draw anywhere near that much; by contrast the current power is hovering around the 100W mark. The RAM is 8GiB of DDR3 1600. It's faster than my CPU can support, but I plan to incrementally upgrade this machine as time goes on and this ram will also be the fastest that the next generation intel processors can support too. Three slots are spare for expansion, which will also let me enable dual-channel mode.
The board is micro-ATX with a reasonable amount of expansion for my needs. It's much smaller than the full tower case supports, but buying a new system two months before the launch of Haswell I'd have been mad to buy high-spec components for the parts soonest to be replaced. The B75M motherboard will be swapped out in the summer of this year for a more modern part which can take a low-power Haswell i5. Finally, the expansion card is an 802.11G PCI wifi card I found in a box. This system usually runs cabled, for the sake of gaming latency; however it's handy to have a wifi card in there for when it's been disconnected to avoid tripping up visitors. The graphics are currently being provided by the on board GPU of the Celeron. I planned to get an uprated Nvidia card when the machine was purchased, but after discovering that my most recent licence of Windows will not run in EFI mode; I've decided to wait until the software I'm using requires it. Portal, Minecraft and Second Life run beautifully under linux with the Intel HD Graphics.