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Portables Power Software Space Hardware Linux

Space Cube – the World's Smallest Linux PC 265

Barence writes "Meet the Space Cube — the world's smallest fully functional PC. Primarily designed for use in space, it somehow manages to cram a working PC with USB ports, card readers, audio outputs and proprietary interfaces into a tiny cube chassis measuring just two inches square. It runs a basic Linux front-end, which the blogger takes a look at, and there are some great photos of the device being loomed over by everyday objects like coffee mugs and cellphones. It has connections for controlling various electronics used by ESA, NASA and JAXA, but it will also apparently be for sale to the public soon, for use by amateur engineers and robotics clubs."
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Space Cube – the World's Smallest Linux PC

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  • Another? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amdpox ( 1308283 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:53AM (#24764507)
    What's the dealeo with all these ridiculously tiny "fully functional" Linux boxes coming out? Does anyone have a use for them, other than attempting to cram a distributed computing network into a backpack? A machine that needs an external keyboard, screen and power adaptor has no need to be any smaller than a midget-ITX.
  • Re:Another? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:55AM (#24764539)
    'Primarily designed for use in space'.

    It is enormously expensive to launch things into orbit. Making a smaller and lighter computer saves on launch costs, and the weight allowance can be used for other things. Then again, presumably you still have to launch a mouse and keyboard and VDU for this thing, so it's not quite as great a saving as it sounds...

  • by Brane2 ( 608748 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:57AM (#24764569)

    This thing is obviously aimed at special applications.

    For these kind of things there are much better solutions than x86 chips. They are smaller, faster, cheaper and more economic than classic HW.

    Take a look at TI's daVinci program, for example, or maybe some small Coldfire from Freescale or maybe some cool Arm from NXP etcetc.

  • GBP 1500 ? WTF? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:01AM (#24764627)

    Nice but GBP 1500 is ridiculously expensive for such ridiculous specs (64 MB RAM/16 GB disk), too bad I wanted one...

  • by acdc_rules ( 519822 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:02AM (#24764645)
    certainly 2x2x2 which is 8 cubic inches. looking at the photo you get the idea the author of the article is innumerate.
  • Re:Smallest? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PinkyDead ( 862370 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:06AM (#24764743) Journal

    Maybe 2 years ago this might have been 'Wow!' - but with the likes of the Eee etc around - the appropriate response is 'Meh.'

    Just some quick back of a fag packet calculation on the Eee put it at 9cm^3. Obviously, a lot more than this with its 5cm^3, but you do get
    * a keyboard
    * a screen
    * 3 usb ports
    * wireless ethernet
    * mouse pad
    * power
    * loads more disk space
    * 3 times the processor
    * etc
    all for 300 quid

    Which if you got rid of would reduce the size right down to a lot less than 5cm^3.

    No disrespect to the folks that put this thing together - and yes I would like one please - but... it's not rockin' my world.

  • Re:Smallest? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Atlantis-Rising ( 857278 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:16AM (#24764913) Homepage

    Of course not. And it also doesn't help that the Space Cube, unlike the eeePC, is totally useless by itself.

    It's wonderful to have a tiny computer, but if you need to slap on a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to use it it's really not all that tiny, is it?

    It also doesn't help that the real reason, in general (i.e., other than embedded computing environments) the reason people want small computers is portability, and this thing is hardly portable- sure, it's small and light, but given that it's totally useless on its own, that lack of size and weight is mostly irrelevant.

    Even for use in space, I still think it's a waste of, well, space. Either you're going to connect it to a real computer for display and use (with that big monitor and keyboard) or you're not, and all those jacks are a waste of space.

  • by the_B0fh ( 208483 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:16AM (#24764915) Homepage

    The biggest problem is that they're selling it for US$300+ in Japan, but the University wants to sell it for $1500+

    Another good idea dying on the vine caused by greed.

  • by FlatWhatson ( 802600 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:19AM (#24764979)
    It's the data-centers and network rooms that should watch out, not the airports.

    These things are perfect for use in MITM attacks.
  • Radhard? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Conspicuous Coward ( 938979 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:30AM (#24765141)

    If this thing is meant to be going into space doesn't it need to be using radiation hardened components?
    TFA states the cost is likely to be around GBP1500, that along with the size and specs of it makes me wonder if they're using commercial grade components in there. Aren't radiation hardened componentes generally around 10 years behind standard PC's? In other words is this thing actually going to be of any use in space or is is just some wierd marketing gimmick?

  • Re:Smallest? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:31AM (#24765165) Homepage

    Dont forget the power, the space cube requires a power source... while the eee does too long term, it can run for a length of time on it's battery.

  • by IDtheTarget ( 1055608 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:37AM (#24765255)

    I would think that the primary "big deal" would be programming talent.

    Way back when, the government used proprietary, government-programmed operating systems and software for stuff, and it rarely worked and it was difficult to find programmers to maintain or update the software. This way, by using a processor that can run a well-known, well-liked, popular OS that has literally millions of enthusiastic programmers available, it shouldn't be difficult to get critical software written or maintained.

    You also won't need to re-invent the wheel for common modules, and your programmers can therefore concentrate on the stuff that is unique to your application of the hardware.

  • by DanOrc451 ( 1302609 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @11:28AM (#24766037)

    That'd be cool for far more than just airport security, I think that might just be the coolest casemod idea I've ever heard of.

    Since a Rubik's cube is 3"x3"x3" [], you could literally fit a shell that looked just like a standard Rubik's over it, and have removable squares for the ports....

    The mind boggles at the coolness of that!

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe