Mini-ITX Firewall
Security - Training

Mini-ITX is a small form factor that is also a powerful form factor.  The example you see here has an Atom processor and works like a dream. If you are interested in going GREEN then this is the way to go.  If you are interested in cutting heat and energy this is what you want to look at.

Lesson 7 / Lesson 9

Mini-ITX and Nano-ITX (even smaller form factor) are becoming very usable options.  If you are running a small office or want to segment a LAN in a large office, Mini-ITX can be a solution.  You will want to use a distro like Debian Lenny that has the correct drivers that will work with Mini-ITX and the processors that they use.

Why consider Mini-ITX?

1. Save Money - using mini-itx is cheaper than a server
2. Save Energy - this is a big factor in that you can reduce energy requirements by 70%.
3. Save Space - reduce the space consumption of the firewall by 60
4. Save Heat - dramatically reduce heat production



There are several significant advantages of Mini-ITX. The first of course is size. This form factor will provide you with significant size reduction so that you can either consider taking the project as a mobile solution or save on desktop space. You could easily save 90% in space reduction vs. a desktop case. Noise is another advantage. Many of these small form factors systems have no fan options. This may make a much more enjoyable experience for the user. The other major value is power consumption.


A typical server situation may be  an ATX format tower or rack mounted server with a 350-450 watt power supply.  Typically these wattage figures are maximums and no system runs at these levels for long. But you will need to account for these issues so that you could if you had to. Now this does not even touch on the aspect of heat. If you put this kind of setup into a room with 30 other such machines you will need to turn on air conditioning to maintain a livable temperature and you would need to increase the electrical circuits in that room with additional circuits because one circuit could not handle this type of load from 30 such computers. In larger  institutions heat and power issues are a serious financial issue. Anyways, the advantage here is that you can move from looking at 350-450 watts to 25 watts.  This is a huge savings on power and suddenly the heat issue is non-existent.

Another advantage of Mini-ITX is sound.  Since the example does not use a fan they are more distant humming.


An additional advantage is when bad things happen.  Typically if you lose power, you have minutes on the UPS.  If you are using Mini-ITX you have a much longer time as you are using considerably less wattage.

The main disadvantage of Mini-ITX is that it is not a format to be used when you are needing a high power server that will handle a lot of traffic.  The design should be for special purpose servers that function as appliances.

Typical Uses:
Small Web Server
DNS Server
Small EMail Server

Uses That Are Not Practical:
Multi-Hosted Web Server
Any Heavily Used Server (the processing power is less than an ATX box)

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