All-in-One PC: One for All

    By the standards of a rapidly changing digital world, desktop PCs belong to the category of dinosaurs: since their appearance in the mid-80s, they have not undergone any fundamental changes. Such mossiness causes some concern in the industry, because you need to bet on the right trend, the right direction of movement - when it starts. Well, or, ideally, create this vector yourself by determining what a modern personal computer should be like. One of the possible and, according to Intel, very promising options that are being actively promoted now, is AIO - All-in-One PC. This topic will be discussed in this post.

    AIO, rear view with the lid open

    What is AIO? First of all, it is a miniature PC made in the form of a monoblock or nettop. You can consider it a further development of the idea of ​​a mini-PC with several specific features.

    The first and foremost feature is the standard Thin mini-ITX format motherboard. This moment is so fundamental that the form factor is even inscribed in the AIO logo. For a long time, it was incompatibility and the associated difficulties in repair and upgrade that prevented the widespread distribution of mobile PCs. Now, from this point of view, AIO is no different from a regular PC: in general, the components are standard and easily replaceable at home.
    As the name implies, the Thin mini-ITX form factor differs from just mini-ITX in the reduced system thickness: the I / O panel is 25 mm instead of 44 mm wide, the memory strips are flat laid (in the near future, Intel-based holders will appear 2 slats one above the other). The location of the processor for cooling unification has also been standardized. A promising base for building Thin mini-ITX systems will be the fourth-generation Intel Core processors (Haswell), but now AIOs based on Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge are being sold. Motherboards are built on the H61 and Z68 chipsets, they are produced by several companies, including, of course, Intel - the DH61AG model.

    Thin mini-ITX motherboards (right) and mini-ITX

    The second feature is the widespread use of wireless interfaces.It would be strange if such a stylish little thing as AIO, overgrown with a beard of wires. For clarity, the slogan was put forward: "one computer - one wire." This refers to the power cable, of course. However, you can do without it, if you add a battery and a wireless charger. This is exactly what experts see the future home computer - both stationary and mobile. It can be installed on a stand, connected to it with a mouse and keyboard (wireless, of course), or it can be laid out as a large tablet for joint leisure and activities. Despite the large display diagonal (24-27 inches), it is planned to achieve decent AIO autonomy by optimizing power consumption - about 4 hours with a battery weight of not more than 15% of the total mass of the device.
    As for the data transfer interfaces, the AIO is focused on the promising standard “gigabit Wi-Fi” IEEE 802.11ac. In the meantime, in his absence, we will manage 802.11n.

    CPU cooling device

    The third feature is the touch screen.Currently, not all AIOs sold are equipped with a touch screen, however, this function makes this class of devices conceptually complete. Touch control simplifies the system interface as much as possible, making any control devices unnecessary. In fact, AIO can be seen as a giant tablet and a candy bar at the same time. However, user interfaces are not limited to the touchscreen, in particular, the active use of voice commands is assumed. The touch screen itself will be used much more widely than in traditional devices: its responsibilities will include gesture recognition and multi-touch support for several people at the same time.

    AIO Installation Options

    The fourth hallmark of AIO is the widespread use of Intel mobility and security technologies.Naturally, a system built on an Intel processor and chipset is able to fully utilize all their functionality. We list the most relevant technologies for this class of devices: Smart Response, Rapid Start, Smart Connect, Identity Protection ... for sure, new ones will also be added to this list, including those developed specifically for AIO.

    AIO Architecture

    If you summarize all of the above, what functions can AIO perform in your digital home infrastructure? We list the main ones:
    • A workplace in its classical sense. Equipped with a keyboard and mouse, AIO is a “regular” high-performance PC with a large display, suitable for any task.
    • Universal media player. AIO is equipped with enough analog and digital outputs to work with any kind of multimedia. If necessary, display a picture on an even larger display, you can use HDMI. I won’t be surprised if support for Wireless Display is announced.
    • The terminal for video communication. Built-in cameras and an array of microphones make AIO a convenient means of communication; probably this kind of device is best suited for family conferences.
    • An entertainment center for the whole family. In the “tablet” mode on AIO, you can draw, play toys, including collective ones, and there is much more - everyone will come up with his own fun.

    In general, indeed, All-in-One is obtained. All in one.
    Just as AIO will find its application in the professional field. Training computer classes, information terminals and self-service systems, workplaces for doctors and equipment operators - AIO is useful wherever mobility and visibility are required.

    I removed it and carried it ...

    As in the case of mini servers, I would like to note that AIO is not a concept, but a commercial product that is actively sold now and demonstrates the highest growth rate in the PC market - 23% per year. According to forecasts, in 2013, 17 million AIOs will be sold. Nobody wants to be one of them?

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