Shuttle InterviewOur fearless leader, David, recently had the time to sit down with Shuttle and ask them a few questions about their upcoming XPCs, issues with 6800 Ultra cards in their XPCs, support for 64-bit CPUs and new innovations to keep them on top of their game. So without further ado and waffle from me, let's dive right in.
How does Shuttle propose to look out for NVIDIA 6800 Ultra users - what steps are you taking?
[Shuttle]: Shuttle has solutions for NVIDIA 6800 Ultra to meet the need of users. But we feel that NVIDIA 6800 Ultra is the last product of its kind. The next generation will be PCI Express, which Shuttle we will put more focus on.
Currently, our XPC SB81P (915G) is 6800 ready and we're preparing a second Intel 9xx model that will we believe will be compatible.
What is your magic formula - from being a low-end motherboard manufacturer to SFF elite tycoons?
Most of the people just follow the rules defined by big companies like Intel, but that's not Shuttle. It's very risky to create a new product. Maybe just 1% will survive. We tried and failed thousands of times in researching and developing new products before we succeeded with the XPC. This trial and error provided us very good experience and real practice. When we came up with the idea of shrinking the size of PC while maintaining performance, ergonomics and style, these experiences helped a lot.
In addition, Shuttle has very solid experience in manufacturing motherboards. That's why Shuttle XPC's offer industry-best board design, component positioning and cooling.
How does you see 64-bit Shuttle models evolving over the next 12 months?
64-bit is the top trend in the market right now. However, at the moment, it lacks software to support and Microsoft will soon bring 64 bit product to the market.
Intel is also paying attention to 64 bit.
Shuttle started 64-bit from SN85G4 XPC, and we will keep on bringing 64-bit products to the market.
Further, we're currently in negotiation with a major ISV on bundling a 64-bit operating system with our Ahtlon-64 ready products.
What plans/ideas does Shuttle have for improving cooling and air flow?
Look at Shuttle's new XPC SB81P. The XPC SB81P's been completely redesigned cooling system and includes an all-new ICE heat pipe module, advanced airflow dynamics and re-engineered cooling fans with linear control metrics. In the first generations of our heat pipe, the thermal resistance was 0.33? /w, in the 2nd generation was 0.22 ? /w, while in the 3rd generation, it's 0.16 ? /w!! It's half the thermal resistance of Intel's current (BTX) standard!!
Do Shuttle have any plans for XPCs that meet the BTX standard?
Of course, we will continue developing the SFF (Shuttle Form Factor), but we are also excited about Intel's BTX and will support it. In fact, Intel's BTX form factor is quite similar to earlier Shuttle designs and we feel that Shuttle can bring a lot to the BTX platform.
Are Shuttle planning any software innovations for the XPC range, maybe something akin to AOpen's Multimedia Mode?
XPC Tools is the name of a new application we are working on and it will be ready soon. It's designed to provide users a GUI-based way to manage and control low-level functions of their XPC.
What is Shuttle planning in regards to PCI-Express?
Shuttle's new XPC - SB81P - supports 16X PCI Express graphics cards. In the coming weeks, we will also launch another 9xx-based XPC.
Where do you see the future of SFF, will we see Shuttle doing some more 'Media Centre' PCs - slim line aimed at Hi-fi stacks?
Shuttle XPC's running XP MCE is a product segment that we're really excited about. Our US branch is already selling MCE-based systems and the early results - sales, customer feedback, etc - have been excellent.
With the launch of ViA's NanoITX format, has Shuttle considered going smaller than the current lineup?
Exotic platforms, processors, etc have their place, but Shuttle's focus is and has been delivering the performance and flexibility of the PC in a form factor that's smaller, quiet, cooler and more stylish than the traditional desktop.
What plans do you have to cope with the increase demand for more wattage from PSUs?
Shuttle's new XPC - SB81P - features 350 W Silent X power supply. We were the first to ship our SFF computers with 220, 240, 250 and 350 watt power supplies. Moreover, we're not resting on our laurels here. Expect more good things from Shuttle going forward.
Since integrated northbridge-based GPUs have never been up to much, are there any plans to incorporate mobile GPUs into shuttles?
Will Shuttle ever produce retail 'special edition' UV reactive or otherwise black lit SFF models? Or any other Special Editions?
Shuttle is open to good ideas. In fact, we've worked closely with a number of vendors to get their products to market. We can't really talk about that, but look for more good things both Shuttle and third-party supplies in the future, 'cause, hey, we're geeks… What do you think we do on weekends?
Are you planning on doing a shuttle with 2 x dedicated built in SATA hot swappable drives, to compliment the onboard RAID that many models now come with.
We're already there. Any issues that may exist won't be found in Shuttle hardware.
Finally, do you have any secret bit of information to share that will amaze our readers?
I invented rock and roll!