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Old 11-17-2007, 11:31 AM
Posts: n/a
Default Re: New Laptop for work

"rickman" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]m...
>I am looking at a low end Dell laptop, the Vostro 1500, as a new
> computer for work. I may supplement this later with a new desktop
> unit for crunching FPGA designs,

Consider a small form factor PC, they are small enough to carry home and you
get all the power of a desktop. The only disadvantage is that you can't use
them at an airport :-)

> but I will also be using this laptop
> for this sort of work. I am looking for advice on the differences in
> CPUs for FPGA work and anything else that is relevant.
> I know that parallel ports are going the way of the serial port and
> the dodo bird, but I can live with that. Most tools are available as
> USB devices now.

Correct, if you need a parallel port just look on ebay for a low-cost PCMCIA
parallel port card (don't buy a USB to Parallel port cable since they do not
work with dongles and apparently download cables). Serial ports are no
problem, I bought a 7 USB to serial port cable and it works perfectly ( I
use it with Teraterm to connect to my prototype board).

> This particular computer comes with WindowsXP rather than Vista. From
> what I have heard, that is an advantage.

Definitely, most EDA companies do not yet support Vista and if you don't
care about wobbly windows then stick with XP. As suggested by Andy I would
also recommend you set-up a dual boot with Linux. If you do this then I
would recommend using Redhat or one of its clones like CentOS 4.4 (not 5).
Linux is a great EDA environment although for some reason some EDA companies
still like to charge extra for their Linux version. I would also suggest you
keep your XP installation since you might nullify your warranty (completely
brain-dead I know).

> But I notice that the
> internal bluetooth adapter is specific for XP and others from Dell are
> specific for Vista. Any idea what is up with that? Is there any
> significant advantage to using XP pro over XP home?
> This machine also has the "Intel(R) Integrated Graphics Media
> Accelerator X3100". Is that just another way of saying "integrated
> video"? Several of my other machines have had integrated video and it
> does seem to drag down the CPU noticeably. Any idea if I will notice
> the drag on the Core 2 Duo?
> They also offer an Nvidia Gforce 8400 GS
> adapter for $100 and an 8600 for $200 more. Any idea if these are
> worth it? The 1500 says it has "VGA video output & S-Video". Does
> that mean I can connect two monitors for dual display?

If you want more screen area go for a single 24" (1920*1200) display since
they are absolutely great. I used to have two 19" screens and I get tell you
that a single 24" screen works much much better. Also most EDA tools require
large high-res screens, look at the number of windows in Modelsim or HDL
designer, you simply can not use them on anything less than 1280*1024 unless
you are one of those persons that can watch and enjoy a video on your mobile
(cell phone) :-)

> The CPU is a T5270 (1.4 GHz, 2 MB cache) with upgrades to various
> processors for significant money. The first step-up is to a T5470 (1.6
> GHz) for $75 and others range up to $575! I am thinking I can live
> with the slower processor. The memory is 2GB.

Go for 4Gbyte, this will make your P&R run a lot faster. Yes you can only
use 3.2GByte under XP but even the extra 1.2Gbyte will make a difference.

> I was looking at the Vostro 1000 earlier this week with an AMD TK-53
> processor (1.5 GHz, 512 KB cache) and a smaller hard drive. It was
> $50 more so the 1500 looks like the better deal. Are there any
> significant differences in the two CPUs for FPGA work? I guess the
> small cache of the TK-53 would make it significantly slower for FPGA
> work.

According to an English PC magazine both Rock and PCnextday (zoostorm) came
out as one of the fastest laptops in their price class:

> I saw a thread from earlier this year discussing some of this. I
> wonder how much laptops have improved since then.

With the current speed of development I would say a year is just about long
enough before it is time to pass on your laptop to your kids or family
member :-)


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