Taipei, Tuesday, July 29, 2014 23:13 (GMT+8)
partly cloudy
Taipei
29°C
The Small-Form-Factor trend: From concept to convergence
Vyacheslav Sobolev, DigiTimes.com, Taipei [Monday 31 January 2005]

Small-form-factor (SFF) desktop PCs are still a relatively new concept in the PC market. It was less than four years ago that Shuttle introduced its first SFF PC model, the PC-SV24. The company is now widely recognized as the pioneer of the SFF movement and the originator of the SFF concept.

Last year, Shuttle reported that it had shipped its millionth unit from its XPC family of SFF PCs. Currently the company has a comprehensive SFF PC product lineup, consisting of models for both the Intel and the AMD CPU platforms, based on chipsets from five vendors (Intel, VIA Technologies, SiS, ATI, Nvidia) and targeting various market segments from value systems to solutions for enthusiasts and “overclockers.”

Strictly speaking, there is no “classical” definition of an SFF PC. If the definition is a PC that is smaller than a regular desktop PC housed in a tower case, products that follow those criteria were available before the Shuttle PC-SV24. However, Shuttle was definitely the first company to come to market with a complete concept of a compact desktop PC and its own vision of the future of the product.

The Shuttle PC-SV24 featured the VIA Apollo Pro 133A chipset with integrated graphics and supported Socket 370 CPUs, though the system came with only one PCI expansion slot on the motherboard. The company had chosen its own proprietary form factor for the product, instead of an open standard. This began a trend towards non-standard form factors, with offerings from other vendors in addition to Shuttle. These rival motherboard vendors had recognized the benefits and potential of SFF PCs, and they entered the market with their own solutions based on their own proprietary form factors.

Currently, there are still a wide variety of form factors in the SFF PC market, from tiny boxes with a processor embedded on the motherboard to the larger-sized cases that offer more upgrade options. However, when the industry talks about SFF systems, the reference is normally to the more-or-less cubic designs, similar to the first model introduced by Shuttle in 2001. These products are still mostly sold as barebone systems, comprising case, power supply, motherboard (typically with integrated video, audio and LAN support), mouse and keyboard. Some vendors may also bundle their products with monitors, optical drives, or other components, though key components such as CPUs, DRAM memory modules and HDDs are usually sold separately.

Since Intel introduced its BTX (Balanced Technology Extended) specification at IDF Fall 2003, many vendors have also focused their efforts on bringing this form factor to the SFF PC segment. Until now, however, these developments have not actually resulted in many new products. It is interesting to note, though, how these efforts have also given new life to attempts to use other standard form factors to design SFF PCs, such as Micro ATX or Flex ATX.

The SFF market was also one of the first PC segments to understand that PCs are now morphing into consumer-electronics products, as the vendors offered customers more stylish designs and more accessible products. This general trend to the convergence of IT and consumer electronics is ongoing, and makers now devote as many resources to designing the outside of their products as they do the inside.

Over the next several months, DigiTimes.com will take a closer look at the products and vendors in the SFF segment, as well as the market in general, with the intention of providing a better picture of where the market stands and where it is heading.

Realtime news
  • Phison reports strong earnings for 1H14

    Bits + chips - Newswatch | 3h 13min ago

  • Hermes Microvision to see revenues stay flat in 3Q14

    Before Going to Press | 2h 24min ago

  • Delta Electronics 2Q14 gross margin, net profit hit records

    Before Going to Press | 2h 25min ago

  • Huawei ships 34 million smartphones in 1H14

    Before Going to Press | 2h 37min ago

  • Taiwan market: BenQ 1H14 LCD TV sales up 20% due to low-blue-light models

    Before Going to Press | 2h 38min ago

  • Commentary: China antitrust probe could affect Qualcomm performance

    Before Going to Press | 2h 39min ago

  • Demand for tablet touch panels decreasing, say Taiwan makers

    Before Going to Press | 3h 1min ago

  • Adlink develops 3D intelligent vision-aided positioning system in cooperation with ITRI

    Before Going to Press | 3h 15min ago

  • Digitimes Research: Smartphone AP shipments grow over 13% sequentially in China in 2Q14

    Before Going to Press | 3h 32min ago

  • China market: Colorful Technology poses competitive threat to MSI, ASRock

    Before Going to Press | 3h 33min ago

  • UMC to post single-digit revenue growth in 3Q14

    Before Going to Press | 3h 34min ago

  • Taiwan notebook ODMs to benefit from HP, Dell sales in North America

    Before Going to Press | 3h 34min ago

  • Huawei Device sees high growth in 1H14 handset shipments

    Before Going to Press | 3h 35min ago

  • Sales for mini versions of flagship smartphones short of expectations

    Before Going to Press | 3h 36min ago

  • Digitimes Research: Taiwan digital camera shipments in 2Q14 up 43.3% sequentially

    Before Going to Press | 3h 37min ago

  • Global market share for iPad may slip to below 25% in 2H14

    Before Going to Press | 3h 38min ago

  • Acer tops US LCD monitor retail market in 1H14

    Before Going to Press | 3h 39min ago

  • Huawei Device to launch Ascend Mate 3 4G smartphone, says report

    Before Going to Press | 3h 40min ago

Pause
 | 
View more
MSI Global N750Ti TF 2GD5/OC
Media news email alerts
2014 global mobile application processor market forecast
  • 2014 global high brightness LED market, trends and shipment forecast

    For the global LED lighting market, the market size will reach US$25.82 billion in 2014 or a market penetration rate of 23.4%. This is attributable to exponential shipment growth for light bulbs, tubes, and directional lamps.

  • Greater China touch panel shipment forecast through 2015

    This Special Report provides forecasts through 2015 for Greater China touch panel shipments with breakdowns based on technology (glass, film, resistive), application (smartphone, NB and tablet) and by firm.

  • 2014 global tablet demand forecast

    This report analyzes the main players, their strategies and shipments forecasts for 2014, as well as other factors contributing to either growth or decline in various segments within the tablet market, with a particular focus on Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft, along with whitebox vendors.