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Mandriva Joins the Netbook Market With the GDium 122

Posted by timothy
from the price-is-all dept.
AdamWill writes "Lately it's hard to avoid the buzz about netbooks — the small, cheap laptop systems that were popularized by the Asus Eee PC. Mandriva is providing the innovative operating system for the upcoming GDium netbook system, produced by Emtec. The first GDium will be a netbook with a 10", 1024x600 resolution display and a battery life of four hours, weighing in at 1.1kg. The innovative G-Key system stores the Mandriva operating system and all the user data on a USB key — nothing is permanently stored inside the GDium. You can use your own desktop and data by plugging the G-Key into any GDium."
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Mandriva Joins the Netbook Market With the GDium

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  • That's great, Mandriva is my ever fav linux distro, if I just want something that's readily prepared for me... Those guys have a lot of innovative ideas, and I'm glad to see there's something better than my EeePC's tortured Xandros....
  • Gayaplex? (Score:5, Funny)

    by idiot900 (166952) * on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:25PM (#24255189)

    From the site:

    10.
    1024×600.
    1.1Kg.
    4 hours.
    Mandriva Linux.
    G-Key.
    Gayaplex.

    I understood the first six things on the list. But what the heck is a "Gayaplex"? I'm going to assume that it doesn't mean what its spelling implies...

  • netbooks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zogger (617870) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:28PM (#24255217) Homepage Journal

    It is headed the opposite direction, they are getting more expensive, not less, and gaining in size. When that first eeePC hit I thought "cool, pretty soon now the hundred buck blisterpack small notebook". Man, I was wrong.

    • Re:netbooks (Score:4, Informative)

      by minginqunt (225413) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:38PM (#24255311) Homepage Journal

      Well, the 9'' Eees are already pushing what's usable in that form factor anyway. Extended use of its keyboard makes an unhappy me.

      The extra inch of the 1000 series makes all the difference in the world. But you lose some of teh tinies and teh cuteness.

      It's a tradeoff.

      • tradeoff (Score:2, Interesting)

        by zogger (617870)

        ya, but already at the same price or getting more than a regular 14 inch laptop I can snag at local wallyworld off the shelf, and being a regular manual laborer, a pound or three difference means absolutely nothing to me, just not that big of a deal with me when it comes down to it, I carry around more weight than that with various tools stuck in my pockets all the time, 2 lbs or 5 lbs, meh, I don't care, 50 lbs sacks of mineral are at my low end of crap I have to move by hand all the time. I was more inter

        • by skolima (1159779)
          Ever heard about "interpunction"? It's got actual rules, you know. For ease of understanding, you know....
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by clang_jangle (975789) *
      Unfortunately, ASUS quickly figured out that there are plenty of people with more disposable dollars than sense when it comes to pricing of small, personal electronics. Still, I remember when simple calculators cost a *lot* of money -- eventually, the same value drop will have to occur with mini puters. I hope.
      • by xoundmind (932373)
        These things ran for $280 in 1980 when my father bought one:
        TI-57 [wikipedia.org].
        Got me through my mid-80s science curriculum pretty well.
        The netbooks will fall in price eventually...just be patient.
    • Re:netbooks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mobby_6kl (668092) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @05:10PM (#24256425)

      Yeah, but at least they're becoming way more usable. The small low-res screen, shitty keyboard, low storage and relatively poor battery life made sure I wasn't getting myself the EEE 4G/700. Now Dell is coming up with the $299 "E" laptop [engadget.com] which appears to be what the EEE should've been all along, and I'm rather interested.

      No matter how many unpaid overtime hours the Chinese kids work, there still is a certain price floor at the current technological level. I'd be quite satisfied if they just kept improving the product at the current price range until it's feasible to go lower without producing something completely useless.

      • by zogger (617870)

        Very good point, surfing today takes a bit more power than ten years ago for sure. That's why I wanted to upgrade my backup machine, that PB1400m that is a 1997 model, just not enough processor or RAM to be of much use for much longer. Thankfully you can still get an iCab browser for it that works pretty fair. Thanks for the link to that new Dell review! Getting closer! I'm still going to hold out a bit longer though, joe cheap here, heh.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        I heartily disagree. First of all, I purchased my EeePC 701 in December of last year and I have never looked back; despite the fact that I have the largest fingers of anyone I have ever met (no I haven't met any NBA players, I'm sure many of them have bigger hands then me). I'm not kidding, I couldn't get a grad ring in Grade 12 because even the largest size would not fit on my pinky finger. I have no complaints -- at all -- about the keyboard. Sure it isn't an IBM Model M but I don't find it any more a
  • Ewwww.... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Usb keys get lost or end up in the washing machine even more than small laptops do...

    • by memojuez (910304)
      I have to agree. Why carry two things with you if you don't have to. It is kind of backwards.

      I can see to small extent using a G-Key for desktops, but in work environment roaming profiles work much better.

      • I can see to small extent using a G-Key for desktops, but in work environment roaming profiles work much better.

        I agree. Take your G-Key from your home GDium to your work GDium, and you get to keep all of your Slashdot bookmarks and your porn collection -- a poor man's MobileMe. While the G-Key would be effective for desktops, but just redundant for portable machines. Plus, it would only be truly effective were there to be a GDium on every desk and every lap; barring any sort of significant market penetration, it's just a gimmick (though I'm sure it will have its fans).

        • by AdamWill (604569)
          It's mainly envisaged for the education market, AIUI. The idea is schools buy zillions of the GDiums and then kids can just carry their key from class to class or whatever. Also good for similar type office environments. The whole G-Key thing is really for that kinda setup, not for the individual end-user - I would expect people who buy a GDium to use as an individual consumer machine will just leave the G-Key plugged in pretty much all the time. No reason you can't do that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by reset_button (903303)
      What's worse is that USB keys are generally unreliable. If you're running your OS off one with all of the data I can easily imagine some important blocks becoming unaccessible in 6-12 months. As it is, I won't store anything I don't have backed up on one of these things.
      • by maeka (518272)

        What's worse is that USB keys are generally unreliable. If you're running your OS off one with all of the data I can easily imagine some important blocks becoming unaccessible in 6-12 months. As it is, I won't store anything I don't have backed up on one of these things.

        Anecdotal evidence alert!
        I've been running Ubuntu 7.04 off a 4GB thumbdrive for over a year now. What evidence is there that USB keys are unreliable? I've never had one fail.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by reset_button (903303)
          Yea of course it's anectodal, but I lost my data off 4 of them within 6 months, used for taking files to/from work. That's enough of a reason for me not to store my OS on one.
          • by hostyle (773991) *

            Were they formatted as FAT/FAT32 (usually the default) ? Or something more robust. Anecdotal yes, but I've only lost data off them a couple of times and its been off FAT formatted ones both times.

            • Yes, it was FAT. And yes, I know FAT sucks and all, but I didn't have a choice at the time.
              • by hostyle (773991) *

                Then most likely and unfortunately you are blaming the USB stick itself when you should be blaming the crappy filesystem in use on it.

                What's worse is that USB keys are generally unreliable. If you're running your OS off one with all of the data I can easily imagine some important blocks becoming unaccessible in 6-12 months. As it is, I won't store anything I don't have backed up on one of these things.

                Chances are that its not the keys, its the FS. It sucks that you lost data. But learn your lesson - don't use FAT next time. Reformat as soon as you get it.

                • by kesuki (321456)

                  i have a FAT formatted usb drive, and windows XP refuses to format it as anything other than fat, or fat 32, sure i could go ext2/3, but then it would be significantly harder to use it with windows.

                  BTW fat file systems are very annoying, i have to format my USB about ever 3-4 months, or else there will be issues reading/writing to it from linux.

                  if you format a fat device often enough it's reliable... if you let it go more than 4 months without a format then you're asking for trouble.

                  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                    by david.given (6740)

                    i have a FAT formatted usb drive, and windows XP refuses to format it as anything other than fat, or fat 32...

                    Go hunt down the command line FORMAT command; you can use this to format the USB key as NTFS. If you're working off one, like I used to do, this makes all the difference. Not only is it much more robust it also supports things like symlinks, proper access flags, compressed files, etc. *And* with an NTFS file system XP will let you turn off the option to flush the cache after every write, which vastly speeds things up. (You just have to remember to unmount it before removing the device.)

                • by yomegaman (516565)

                  A bad sector is a bad sector. The filesystem makes no difference.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by maeka (518272)

            No, I meant my story was anecdotal.
            That being said, none of the dozens of USB keys I use for work (FAT32) have suffered a single file loss.

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "If you're running your OS off one with all of the data I can easily imagine some important blocks becoming unaccessible in 6-12 months."

        Fine with me. USB keys are cheap and easy enough to back up.

  • GDium (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:43PM (#24255353) Journal

    From a cursory glance, I'd say I like this. It seems the first Linux distro that is actually tweaked to run from Flash RAM storage, rather than just a somewhat leaner generic Linux bolted on top of a SSD-based computer. Less logging, less unnecessary data to and from the storage, more stuff loaded into RAM. This is what I was hoping from the Eee PC's Xandros, but was disappointed (Xandros on the Eee PC is every bit of a normal Linux distro, with some of the less useful logfiles annoyingly and dangerously often updated).

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Also, while not advertised it uses the MIPS-derived Loongson CPU. I don't know how it compares to Intel's ultraportable offerings performance-wise but I really like affordable non-x86 systems.

      Come to think of it, nobody can install XP on MIPS and this is A Good Thing (TM).

      • OTOH (Score:2, Informative)

        by ypctx (1324269)
        On the other hand, you can't have a x86 distro on the flash key you use with your GDium, pull it out and plug it to your x86 desktop machine, and boot it. Deal breaker for me!
        • *In theory* a binary format such as Mach-O favoured by Apple could be used, booting from an architecture-neutral bootloader.

          I'm not a low-level ones and zeros programmer so I'm not sure how much effort would be required to release such a dream.

          Of course the limited capacity of the flash storage device would probably then be the deal breaker.

        • by AdamWill (604569)
          Actually, in the future, there will be exactly that. Once we can economically ship 16GB G-Keys (at first they'll be 8GB, I believe), it'll have a x86 build of Mandriva on the key alongside the GDium build.

          With the initial 8GB keys, this won't be the case, but you will be able to access the home partition from other machines.
          • by ypctx (1324269)
            Well there will still be things like Adobe Flash and Skype not working on the GDium. I *hate* being a hostage of these closed source apps, but it's the current reality.

            One note to the Flash Key - I think I prefer an SDHC card, which I can safely transfer inside my Phone's SD card slot (thus have my encrypted root fs always with me:), event if phones don't support SDHC cards yet.
            • by ypctx (1324269)
              I forgot to mention one thing about the SDHC card - I was talking about the ones that have USB connector built-in on them - so you can really use one wherever you'd use an USB key.
    • by wellingj (1030460)
      I think DSL and SLAX were doing this for a while now....
      • I love SLAX! It can even be booted so that it completely runs from RAM. But unfortunately, the logging issue remains.

    • by nfk (570056)
      That part about "dangerously often" is controversial. If the SSD balances its wear, it should last for a long time, according to http://clumpc.com/?p=21 [clumpc.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19, 2008 @02:47PM (#24255389)

    Use MANdriva Linux to login to our Gayaplex using your Gkey?

    Come out with your Gdium!

  • With a half pound more and a FireWire flash key (from Micromat) you can boot the MacBook Air with reliability & speed and a 13" screen, and an internal hard drive to use however you want (encrypted data or take it out).

    There are new things coming and I think these options are good.

    • Ahem...I misstated in a FireWire flash key. Indeed you need to use a USB key on the MacBook Air.

      FireWire Flash key is used on my Mac Book Pro.

  • Why MIPS? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    CPU 900 Mhz 64bits Loongson(TM) 2F [wikipedia.org] with only 512 MB of RAM. It's interesting enough but it'll have to be cheap since the only thing I'd use this for is casual browsing.

    • by myrrdyn (562078)
      Because the Loongson 2F is powerful enough (+/- same performance of an Atom of double frequence), but has limited enough power consumption. Also, being at 90 nm is cheaper to fab.
  • by CBob (722532) <crzybob_in_nj@yaOPENBSDhoo.com minus bsd> on Saturday July 19, 2008 @03:08PM (#24255565)

    Humbug.

    I can live with cute, small, slow & quirky if it's CHEAP.

    I can live with cute, small, fast & innovative if it's CHEAP.

    $420 is refurb "normal" laptop range. I REALLY want a cheap laptop/notepad/"wtf is that thing?", but I want cheap.

    • Re:Approx $420... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Saturday July 19, 2008 @03:58PM (#24255955) Homepage Journal
      You miss the point. For the people buying these things, small and light are the main features. Small and light have so far usually meant ridiculously expensive (i.e. Sony Vaio expensive). What's new is laptops with tolerable performance that are small, light and price wise in "normal" laptop range or below.

      You can get lots of cheap laptops. Problem is they're usually 3.5kg+ and huge beasts that really are more like desktops in a laptop packaging.

      • Cheap is definetly part of the appeal of a small portable low specced computing device. In fact it is right up there in the article summary ->""Lately it's hard to avoid the buzz about netbooks -- the small, cheap laptop systems that were popularized by the Asus Eee PC." We had small and light before, but they were expensive. The asus was an immediate hit because the original one was *loads* cheaper than anything else out there, and the OLPC XO project suffered terminal extreme dumbness and couldn't get

    • Re:Approx $420... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by despisethesun (880261) on Saturday July 19, 2008 @04:47PM (#24256257)
      Bear in mind that that pricing probably includes the VAT, which non-Europeans won't have to pay. That brings the price down a little closer to, say, an EEE 701 (I paid a little under $375CAD for my 701 including 5% GST). So if that price is correct, it's competitive with other netbooks. I might grab one just to have a MIPS machine to play with. I also installed Mandriva on my EEE and am quite happy with it, so that's icing on the cake.
      • Ouch, I take it back. 400 Euros is nowhere near $420. Not worth it, IMO.
        • by AdamWill (604569)
          As it says, the pricing isn't finalized.

          I honestly actually have no idea what the U.S. pricing will be. I haven't seen any numbers on that. I expect it'll probably be competitive with the Eee 900 / 1000 range and the Acer Aspire, which are kinda the most obvious competition I guess. But yeah, there's no finalized price set yet that I know of.
          • by AdamWill (604569)
            Update on this - I'm told the European price "is expected to be _less_ than 400 euros".
            • by Fred_A (10934)

              Update on this - I'm told the European price "is expected to be _less_ than 400 euros".

              Oh, cool, it should be 399 € then. :)

  • It's not a value proposition. It's something else. Because I can get a 'real' notebook, somewhat more clunky and heavy, such as a Lenovo R61 with SuSE Linux pre installed for $700. For $636 you can get Vista, remove it and install your own Linux.

    • by Knuckles (8964)

      somewhat more clunky and heavy

      Bingo!

    • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Saturday July 19, 2008 @04:00PM (#24255977) Homepage Journal
      These devices fit in the bag I use to and from work, and about 1-1.2kg extra doesn't bother me. A "normal" laptop doesn't fit with all the other stuff I carry around, and weigh too much. The size difference also means a great deal when traveling in terms of how much extra space I get in my carry on for other items (which means less likelihood of having to check in a bag, which means less time wasted at the airport, which makes me a hell of a lot happier about business travel)
      • by gelfling (6534)

        Yeah I suppose. I would not like to be compelled into any long term use of a 10" screen though. What you're telling me is that it's your 'other' PC. Of course the selling point of THIS unit is that it's NO PC. You deploy these everywhere in your organization and simply hand out USB drives to everyone. A kind of hybrid thin client.

  • What in the world is GodDamniun? Is that what the thing is made of?

  • by jrothwell97 (968062) <jonathan@NOSpAM.notroswell.com> on Saturday July 19, 2008 @03:55PM (#24255931) Homepage Journal

    As I understand this, the root partition is stored on the machine's internal ROM. The user's home folder sits on the USB key, along with something that somehow links to /etc/passwd to provide authentication. The key is automatically mounted when inserted. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    This doesn't sound particularly promising - it would be very easy to lose the key. I also fail to see why, when most ultra-sub-notebooks are bought by a person for their use, and their use only.

    Also, will the home folder on the key be accessible when plugging into another computer, say, a desktop running OS X, Windows or another Linux distro? If so, it would kind-of defeat the object. Emtec would be entering the market very late, so they can't expect this to take the market by storm. If it doesn't, it kind-of defeats the object of sticking everything on a USB key.

    • by dbcad7 (771464)

      I'd imagine if the key was lost you could still log in as root and create a new user. (I suppose you would need another blank key).. you can probably have multiple keys for different users, have one set up for say business stuff, and another for multimedia.. or whatever you want... Don't know if it would be possible to "log on" in another machine to the key but I imagine it could be set up to do that for say your own desktop at home (probably requiring a version of Mandriva that is compatible), but dependin

    • by keneng (1211114)

      Mr. Rothwell, you are incorrect.
      1)You said:"As I understand this, the root partition is stored on the machine's internal ROM."

      Everything, the operating system and the user files are on the USB Key. Nothing is actually on the computer.

      2)You said:"This doesn't sound particularly promising - it would be very easy to lose the key."

      If you lose a USB FLASH Storage, you lose everything, I will grant you that. On the postive note, If you are wise enough to place the G-Key with your wallet and not the laptop then

      • In this case, it means that losing the key, the smallest component, would mean the computer becomes useless. In that case, it would be better to have the base OS on the computer's ROM, especially because it's easier to lose a USB key than a notebook.

        Also, I disagree with your statement about Emtec being a pioneer in this respect. The ultra-sub-notebook/netbook market is generally split into a high-end and low-end - the low end is dominated by the Asus Eee PC, and the high end has been practically cornered b

        • by 12357bd (686909)

          I thing you are not getting the point:

          The key is 'your computer', you can use it in any GDium machine. Decoupling user-data+system from hardware (internal hard disks) can be really useful in a lot of situations.

          So the whole 'if you lose-it...' thing is meaningless, the system is designed to be that way, and for a good reason.

          On a personal note, IMHO Mandriva is maybe the best linux distro, by far, give-it a try.

          • But the key introduces a critical weakness to the system: it's small, so it's easy to lose. I still think that sitting the OS on internal storage would make things better, and provide some kind of insurance policy against losing the key.

            On a personal note, IMHO Mandriva is maybe the best linux distro, by far, give-it a try.

            Where do you work at Mandravia?... [/sarcasm]

        • by speedtux (1307149)

          Well, as someone who has been using his Eee PC in exactly this way, let me tell you officially that you're full of shit. Putting one's personal files on a USB stick makes a lot of sense. It's a shame that this isn't a standard feature on all laptops.

          Doing that well requires two things: (1) OS support to make it easy to put your home directory on a removable drive, and (2) better case design so that the USB stick doesn't stick out. If this laptop has both, it's getting something right that every previous

    • I have no doubt that they're targeting these at the education market - or markets with similar use. There are a lot of schools undergoing "one laptop, one child" type initiatives right now, trying to get a laptop to every student. It's a massive IT burden for many schools.

      On the other hand, a school could buy a couple hundred of these and be "ready to go" with pretty much everything a student could actually need, and there'd be little/no maintenance required. Just issue each student a laptop and a USB key,

    • I've been using my Eee PC with my home on an external USB drive for months with no problems. Why would you lose the USB drive? It's plugged in and it stays plugged in. And this device looks like it actually has space where the thing goes; with the Eee PC, it always sticks out a little.

      I think this is a good idea, provided the built-in OS can be upgraded/reinstalled. I don't want to run Mandriva, I want to run Ubuntu.

  • ...that careless use of an unprotected Mandriva USB key will soon lead to the first-ever case of a new and virulent computer virus known as "GAIDS": GDium Acquired, Idiot-Delivered Sickness.

    Sigh. If only they'd taken proper care of their BitDefender or Clam, everything would have been OK.

  • I'm just happy it has no wondows button.
    I know it's stupid, but I've been meaning to by a linux laptop but I haven't because it would infuriate me to see that button on it!...

  • I had every iteration of the Apple Newton MessagePad up to the last one (2100? Can't remember). I loved the size: smaller than my laptop (literally a laptop, not a portable, because it needed 120VAC), larger than a PDA. Everything about it was efficient for me. But they killed it.

    If Apple could take the iPhone and make it 4x bigger (2x in each dimension), I'd jump on it in 3 seconds, even with the simple OS. There's just too much there that would destroy many of these netbooks, which in my opinion are j

    • I just picked up a Mobile Computing m1300 on eBay for a few hundred bucks -- it's one of the "slate" style tablets, essentially just a big PDA. If you're missing the Newton, you might want to check out something like this.

      --saint

  • So the GDium uses G-Keys to access data through Gayaplex (the previously mentioned portal)... though a wireless G-Spot? Mandriva must not expect to sell many of these.
  • This thing looks so awesome. Too bad it'll probably never get enough market share for those GKey's to become even more interesting. Image going to a LAN-party or something and only bringing a USB stick (and a spare possibly).
    This could also kill or at least diminish the hardware incompatibility issues Linux sometimes has.
  • The day that VIA claimed its Nano is only for 10"+ laptops...

    That and the fact that the HP Mininote has all the potential to be the best subnotebook... But the screen is too glossy (they need to have a matte option), the thing gets pretty hot, the CPU is not very good for the task, and not to mention the exact same laptop (except maybe there's no speakers on the side of the screen for the Dell?) but the Dell happens to be 64-bit and 200$ cheaper... VIA needs to swoop in and supply them with cheap nanos, or

  • 10".

    1024x600.

    1.1Kg.

    4 unclefucks.

    Mandriva "Anusapple" Linux.

    G-Key.

    Gayaplex.

    Pretty close to the original, no?

    (come on and laugh, people)

    http://www.pornolize.com/pornolize4?lang=en&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gdium.com [pornolize.com]

  • This focus on male drivers is just wrong.
  • Processor specs (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Here is brief descriptions of the cpu (PDF) [st.com]. It's chinese-developed 64-bit MIPS, has 2 FPUs, 2 ALUs, 64K/64K L1, 512K L2. And consumes 4W@900MHz. It has a builtin ddr2-667 memory controller, PCI-X bus and no builtin video/USB/etc.

    Nice processor, but IMO Nvidia Tegra is more suitable for a netbook; Ars Technica writes: [arstechnica.com] "Tegra ... dissipates less than 300mW during HD playback." And has all peripherials integrated on the chip.

    Main problem with this netbook is only 4 hours autonomous work, while 7-9 is much mo

  • It makes me think of this arch-based distro FaunOS [faunos.com] which runs completely from USB flash.

    The idea is that computers will become more and more ubiquitous. As folks upgrade, they will have more and more cast-off PCs/Laptops. For most people (non video/game enthusiasts), the minimum system requirements are not very high- meaning that all of those old systems can fulfill their needs. BUT, the time it takes to maintain each old computer will keep people from using them. The solution is that each person main
  • The processor of Gdium is a Chinese 'Loongson', which is a proprietary MIPS. Anyone interested??
    • Yeah, I love it! Seriously. It's no more proprietary than x86/x64, especially when "proprietary MIPS" simply translates to "It's almost MIPS3 except we didn't implement the useless but patent-encumbered instructions."

      • Nice to hear this ... but what about the performance ?? Is it OK ?
        • According to some guy on blogspot: http://myloongson.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_archive.html [blogspot.com]

          In SPECmark, it's about the same performance as a P3 at the same clock speed.

          This actually puts it on par with a Core2 Solo at the same speed, but uses better than 1/6th the power. (I don't know northbridge power usage for Core2.)

          I recall reading that Conroe at 1.2Ghz uses up 19W WITHOUT the northbridge. And Godson/Loongson at 1.0Ghz uses 4W INCLUDING the Northbridge. This also put Loongson at better (within 10%) power

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