CompuLab upgrades compact fanless PC designed for harsh industrial use
Israel's CompuLab packed a lot of computer power into a compact frame when it released the first Airtop fanless computer back in 2016. Now the company has unveiled the second generation, the Airtop2, that can be had with Intel's latest Xeon processor, powerful discrete graphics and up to 64 GB of system memory. And it's designed to work in extreme temperatures.
The second generation Airtop fanless compact computer hasn't been designed for home users, but rather edge computing and use in harsh industrial environments. At its heart is Intel's Xeon E3-1275 v6 processor, supported by up to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM over four slots. 4K visuals from integrated Intel HD graphics come as standard, or Nvidia Quadro P4000 graphics grunt can be optioned in. The Airtop2 can run discrete and integrated GPUs at the same time for multiple display configurations.
There are two slots for non-volatile memory storage media, with a measured data rate of 3,500 MB/s, and enough room for four 2.5-inch SATA SSDs or HDDs. More demanding storage performance needs can be met with the addition of an NVM3 card on the system's PCIe X16 slot, for a data rate of 9,500 MB/s. All storage media can be set up to work in RAID configurations. The Airtop2's motherboard has been created so that the sockets face the clamshell door of the housing, and also benefits from redundant power supplies.
"A design goal of Airtop2 is to be able to operate unattended indefinitely," said CompuLab's Yuval Sela. "For that we completely redesigned one of the most sensitive circuits on a motherboard – power sequencing. Instead of an analog power-sequencing circuit, Airtop2 has a dedicated programmable logic device that monitors power control signals. It allows an always-accurate response to changes in power-states and fluctuations in external power. This brings a new level of reliability and stability to Airtop2."
The Airtop2 is cooled using Natural Airflow technology, a three-stage heat exchanger that's been designed to get air flowing through the system without the need of whirring fans or liquid moving through pipes. CompuLab claims that the technology offers a four-fold efficiency improvement on already reliable and quiet passively-cooled computer systems.
The first stage shapes up as a polished copper plate attached to the heat source, the second is a crisscross array of flat heat pipes that evenly spread heat over the surface of an air tubes panel. And the final stage relies on the stack effect to move air upward. Additionally, a dedicated thermal zone concentrates the system's cooling efforts on the computer's three main heat sources – the processor, graphics card and storage devices.
No moving parts means no maintenance, and the system is not dust- or moisture-sensitive. The design also allows for a very wide operating temperature range of -40° C to 70° C (-40° F to 158° F) and relative humidity of between 5 and 95 percent, making the Airtop2 a good fit for use in extreme environments.
Elsewhere, the 10 x 30 x 25.5 cm (4 x 12 x 10 in) Airtop2 is wrapped in an all-aluminum clamshell housing for ease of access to 7.5 liters of internal volume, and components can be upgraded without needing to raid the toolbox. An OLED monitor to the front of the unit shows real-time temperature, system and power information, and the system offers two Gigabit Ethernet ports, Bluetooth 4.3 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a microSIM socket, four SMA antennas, six USB 3.0 ports and three serial ports.
Numerous use and scenario possibilities can be configured in with the help of different FACE (Function And Connectivity Extension) modules, which add extra ports to the standard setup.
The Airtop2 can run Windows 10 Pro and Linux Mint, but is compatible with other flavors of Windows and Linux, and is destined for professional use at a unit starting price of US$1,335.
CompuLab has used the platform to create a silent gaming PC called the Airtop2 Inferno though, which is set to be the subject of an upcoming Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.