The Master of Geeks

D945GSEJT Motherboard for Small HTPC

By Craig Whitmore, in , posted: 8-Mar-2010 09:22

A few months ago I decided to renew my HTPC with something new. I had a look around and I thought about getting something small. I was thinking about the Zotac Ion motherboard with the same case but I like to be cutting edge and this motherboard with the Video Accelerator Card was best to get and used alot less power compared to the Ion motherboards.

I found it very hard (impossible) to find any of this hardware in New Zealand so I had to buy it from overseas. Motherboard and Case from and other equipment from various places on ebay. It takes a while for some parts via ebay but there sometimes isn't any other way (when you can't get them locally)

I am running Linux/xbmc at the moment and in the future looking into running mythtv on it when the crystalHD (BCM70012) drivers are available for it. I could also to run it under windows as the crystalHD drivers with this as well.

The amazing thing about it is the amount of power it actually takes to run. With no moving parts in it I have it running on a 12V 1.5A power brick and it runs fine. I am still waiting on the Z-U130 Card and have a 2.5" 80G HDD in it at the moment and the 1.5A power is still fine for running it.

When I get it all going I will give some stats from video playing. I still have some issues (like the latest SVN xbmc runs at 100% CPU for some reason) but I think its a bug in the new Xorg Intel driver which I have reported and hopefully getting fixed soon.

The motherboard doesn't by default come with digital Audio on the back out so I have added a SPDIF socket a the back of the case via the jumpers on the motherboard for it.


- D945GSEJT Fanless, UltraFlat mini-ITX motherboard + Atom 270 @ 1 x 1.6Ghz
- Intel Atom 270 @ 1x 1.60GHz
- 3 rear USB, 4 on-board
- VGA, DVI and LVDSl
- 1 x SODIMM (DDR2), up to 2Gb
- 1 x 1x 10/100/1000 Mbit LAN
- Realtek High Definition Audio
- miniPCI-E
- Power: 12V on-board
- Standard I/O shield included
- RoHS compliant


M350 Enclosure. Fanless Small Case designed for Ultra-ATX Motherboards. It is one of the smallest cases around and will also allow me to fit a PCI card in with this motherboard as well. Most other MicroATX motherboards such as the Aton Ion Boards will also fit well well in these. (but without the ability for a PCI Card in the same box)


4G Z-U130 eUSB Card.
This will be used for the boot drive and all media will be played via the network via uPNP or alike. Its only 4G in size but is a good size to fix linux or even
windows for a frontend machine.

HP Mini 1000 110 BroadCom BCM70010 BCM70012 HD Decoder

BCM 70012 Video Accelerator Card.
This Card takes in VC1/H264/MPEG2 and spits out raw video so your CPU doesn't have to decode the data and reduces the CPU needed to play the video . With this card and the motherboard it should be fine displaying 1080i videos via the Atom 270 Chip. This same card can go into an Intel Mac Mini running MacOSX and also allow them to offload to this card the video processing.

26/3/10 - Got the working BCM 970012 Card today and placed it in Motherboard. All good. Installed CrystalHD drivers and recompiled XBMC to use the Card. Played my DVB-T Tests.. Fail.. Seems XBMC and crystalhd won't play these properly as of yet but its being worked on. I tried another couple of h264 files including the 1080p BigBuckBunny movie and it plays fine.

I'm still having trouble getting a number of BT adapters working under Linux. 2 different ones from ebay @ $3.95 each including postage don't seem to work correctly.. One advertised as working under linux and one which said it doens't work under linux, but they where exactly the same hardware (and MAC Address) so be aware as it seems alot of  cheap ones have the same mac adddress! no problems unless you want to talk to another one :-). Anyway if anyone has suggestions for a working BT adapter that works under linux let me know. Ordered a USB IR receiever/remote from ebay for $9.95 to use instead at the moment.

Ordered a PCIe to MiniPCIe Adapter and will get another BCM970012 Card Later so I can do more development on my desktop machine for the rystalhd stuff as the BCM970015 Cards arn't available as of yet. (BCM970015 are PCIe versions of the PCIe 970012)

- Upgraded Power Supply to a 12V 3.3A Power Supply. 1.5A was a little small to run the box after I placed a USB flash drive into the box so it would reboot whenever it tried to use lots of power.. the 3.3A (40W) Power Supply seems to have fixed this completelty.

13/3/10 - Received the Z-U130 yesterday and placed it in. Reinstalled Linux on the Box and found with SSD a few "changes" had to be made as SSD drives are fast read and slow write.


This reduces the amount of swap the machine does but my machine never uses swap anyway...

add elevator=noop in the kernel line so it does no recaching of data from the SSD

add noatime so it doesn't need to update (write) the access time everytime you read a file>

I don't know which one did the biggest change but before these changes the filesystem would have mini freezes whilst accessing data.

12/3/10 - Just a few stats. With the Z-U130 drive and hdparm speed.
hdparm -Tt
Timing cached reads: 1084 MB in 2.00 seconds = 542.18 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 66 MB in 3.03 seconds = 21.75 MB/sec

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