Intel D201GLY2 Mini-ITX mainboard

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NOTE: D201GLY2T SAMPLE

There appear to be two variants of the D201GLY2 boards currently being shipped. While the product page on Intel's website mentions an "optional" S-Video port, they forget to mention that this version comes with the previous generation Celeron 215 instead of the new-and-improved 220. Our sample turned out to be a D201GLY2T, a fact we didn't actually notice until we'd gone through most of the testing. (Oops!)


The S-video port in the center marked our sample as a D201GLY2T.

The difference, aside from the number on the board SKU, is the S-video port in the center of the I/O panel. While the Celeron 215 board draws very little power as is, our guess is that the peak power draw with the Celeron 220 would drop by at least 5W.

BIOS & FAN CONTROL

The BIOS was rudimentary, not worth posting any pictures of. Basic settings were available, but most were of the enable/disable variety. There isn't much flexibility. There is no indication that Enhance Intel SpeedStep (EIST, similar to AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet) is supported. However, where the D201GLY2 shines is in its ability to be used as an integrated systems board. Intel offers a software utility called the Intel Integrator Toolkit with which system builders can create a custom BIOS file. With the custom BIOS, users can show a custom boot screen and prevent changes to CMOS settings, just to name a couple of options. This is the kind of flexibility that vendors need to customize their products. It's also a pretty cool tool for the uber-geek.

Despite being packaged and advertised as passively cooled, the D201GLY2T has two 3-pin fan headers. We tried our reference 80mm Nexus fan, placed it on top of the CPU heatsink, and checked the fan speed. The fan header closest to the CPU always ran the fan at full speed, close to 1400 RPM. With the fan control in the BIOS engaged, the header closest to the ATX connector ran the fan at ~1280RPM, a slight decrease from maximum. We used an external voltage controller to set the fan speed lower.

TESTING THE D201GLY2T

The board was placed on one of our testbench platforms and fitted with the following components for a minimalist system. An optical drive was first plugged in to install Windows and drives, then removed to reduce clutter.


A quick and dirty test bench system built around the D201GLY2T

Measurement and Analysis Tools

Our test procedure is designed to determine the overall system power consumption at various states (measured using a Seasonic Power Angel), and to test the integrated graphics' proficiency at playing back high definition videos. Standard HD-DVD and Blu Ray discs can be encoded in three different codecs by design: MPEG-2, H.264/AVC and VC-1. MPEG-2 has been around for a number of years and is not demanding on modern system resources. H.264 and VC-1 encoded videos on the other hand, due to the amount of complexity in their compression schemes, are extremely stressful and will not play smoothly (or at all) on slower PCs, especially with antiquated video subsystems.

Since we did not have a HD-DVD or Blu Ray drive at our disposal, we used a variety of H.264 and VC-1 video clips encoded for playback on the PC for testing. The clips were played with Windows Media Player 11 and a CPU usage graph was created by the Windows Task Manger to determine the approximate mean and average CPU use. High CPU usage is indicative of poor video decoding ability on the part of the integrated graphics subsystem. If CPU usage reached extremely high levels and the video skipped or froze, we concluded the board (in conjunction with the processor) failed to adequately decompress the clip.

Video Test Suite

720p H.264: BBC's HD in Full Bloom is encoded with H.264. It features time-lapsed photography, mainly of various flowers blooming with vibrant colors and high contrast. 1280x720 | 24fps | ~6.1mbps

1080p H.264: Rush Hour 3 Trailer 1 is encoded with H.264. It has a good mixture of light and dark scenes, interspersed with fast-motion action and cutaways. 1920x816 | 24fps | ~9.9mbps

WMV3 VC-1: Coral Reef Adventure trailer is encoded in VC-1 using the WMV3 codec (commonly recognized by the moniker, "HD WMV"). It features multiple outdoor landscape and dark underwater scenes. 1440x1080 | 24fps | ~7.5mbps

WVC1 VC-1: Microsoft Flight Simulator X trailer is encoded in VC-1. It's a compilation of in-game action from a third person point of view. While the source image quality is poor compared to the other videos in our test suite, it was one of the few decent length clips we could procure encoded using the Windows Media Video 9 Advanced Profile (aka WVC1) codec, a more demanding implementation of VC-1. 1280x720 | 60fps | ~11.9mbps

The main source of noise was the reference Nexus 80mm fan that we placed on top of the CPU heatsink and undervolted to around 7V; in a word, pretty minimal. The Fujitsu notebook drive was mostly inaudible, and the Sparkle SPI220LE power supply fan did not turn on. Without active cooling, CPU temperatures rose to unacceptable levels — 70°C at idle and over 90°C within seconds of starting CPUBurn. With the fan at 12V, the load temperature dropped to 50°C, and rose to 58°C when the fan was slowed down to 7V. The difference between no airflow and some is enough to keep the CPU from incinerating itself. It's likely that Intel intended for this board to be placed in an environment where airflow is provided by some external source, such as a case fan or a PSU fan.

CPU Usage & Power Consumption
Test
CPU Usage
AC Power
Estimated DC Power
Off
N/A
2W
-
Idle
N/A
32W
24W
HD in Full Bloom (H.264)
50-60%
~36W
27W
Rush Hour 3 (H.264)
85-100%
40W
31W
Coral Reef Adventure (WMV3)
90-100%
40W
31W
Flight Simulator X (WVC1)
100%
40W
31W
CPUBurn
100%
40W
31W
The Sparkle Power SPI220LE 80 Plus power supply used in this system is about 77% efficient at 40W AC input and 75% efficient at 30W AC input.

The D201GLY2T handled the Full Bloom and Rush Hour 3 clips without any difficulties. While CPU usage was considerably higher than with other systems we've tested recently, there was no noticable lag or stuttering. Note that there are actually two variants of 1080P, one at 24 fps and one at 60 fps (and possibly one at 30 fps). We're testing 24 fps, not 60 fps. HD-DVD movies will probably be released at 24 fps, while most 1080P Television footage is likely to be 1080P / 60 fps.

Playback of the WMV3 and WVC1 clips wasproblematic. The Coral Reef video had intermittent stuttering during high motion segments, enough to bother most people trying to enjoy a movie. The Flight Simulator video was nearly impossible to watch. Whereas the occasional frame or two was dropped from the Coral Reef video, the occasional frame would be rendered from the Flight Simulator clip.

To confirm the absence of any EIST related controls in the BIOS, we tried setting the power management in Windows to Minimal Power, with no drop in idle power, which should happen if EIST is enabled. The processor may simply not support it, as it is considered an Ultra Low Voltage part.

Still, power consumption of the D201GLY2T is very low. To power an entire computer system for less than 40W AC (albeit with a high efficiency power supply) gives rise to new possibilities. While we wouldn't recommend running the system completely passively, very little airflow is required to keep all the components of the board within safe limits.



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