MiniATX form factor motherboard, with three PCI slots should have enough CPU to do about anything you want, and you can get DC/DC power supplies for them as well. I have a few WRAP boards we were using as backhauls and the CPUs are now maxing out, so I'm going to put these units in. Surprisingly enough, the computers with power supplies are quite a bit cheaper than a WAR or Routerboard. With the right kind of enclosure, you can control the climate fairly well. They are a little bigger than your WRAP or Routerboards, but still mountable on a tower. I have some generic Pentium III vintage motherboards up on towers right now (in NEMA enclosures), and they have been working fine since June of last year. That covers the majority of the temperature and moisture swings in our environment (-30 to 110 degrees F).
Matt Larsen

David E. Smith wrote:

Like many folks on this list (I'm guessing), I have a lot of PC-type hardware at tower locations. Right now, it's mostly RouterBoard 230s and WRAPs, but those systems just don't have all that much CPU power, and I'd like to try to improve things. When you start seriously tinkering with traffic shaping, firewalling, and especially some of the advanced filtering you can do with Linux these days, 233MHz just doesn't go as far as it used to.

There are all kinds of cheap computers out there, so getting something with more CPU power than those boards (both of which are basically Pentium 233s or so) isn't the problem.

The problems are size/space, and that pesky weather.

Ideally, I'd like something with at least double the raw horsepower (a P-500 or better), not too much larger than a RouterBoard, and that can handle temperatures from -20 to +120 (Fahrenheit, obviously, and those numbers are the highs and lows from the last couple years, with a bit of breathing room). I'm shooting for "no moving parts," so a fanless system would be ideal.

And while it needs to be small, it also needs to have at least two Ethernet ports, and for bonus points, access to a PCI slot (for adding things like miniPCI card adapters).

I'd also like a flying car. :D

If it existed, a Soekris 5501 would probably fill the bill, but it's been listed as "coming soon" since late 2004. There's also a number of low-end VIA EPIA-based boards that, while a bit larger than I'd really prefer, would probably work. (Eje at wisp-router sells a couple systems that look like they'd do the job.)

So, does anyone have any recommendations on specific hardware for something like this? Surely someone else out there has run into the same kind of problems. I suspect my size constraint will be the most difficult, but it's also the most flexible. Reliability is obviously my top concern.

David Smith

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