Performance larger than its size
The Niro hub is the brain behind all our application's features. Similar to any other software used in always-on video surveillance environments, it is responsible for streaming, recording and storing video from every connected camera. But the Niro hub is also responsible for the intelligent detection models that allow you to answer any question. This means that, on top of being rock-solid reliable, it needs considerable processing power to run deep learning models on the edge. We also conceived it to be remotely manageable so we can keep delivering an up-to-date experience after setup with frequent releases.
In the hardware world, there is often a tradeoff in features, performance, and size. A few years ago, this combination of requirements: a multiple-core processor that can handle great workloads, a graphics engine that allows numerous high-definition video sources at a high frame-rate and considerable storage space, would have only been possible encased in a traditional high-end tower PC. But nowadays there is a new set of computers called Small Form Factor, that enable PC functionality less obtrusively. The latest in the small form factor PCs are the mini PCs, and the Zotac Magnus EN1060K is one example of them. These are very small systems that are about the size of a paperback book or several PS4 game cases stacked. The systems can get as small as they do because they are based on laptop components and lack the display, keyboard, and mouse to help reduce the size.
There are a few brands of mini PCs pre-built in the market, on top of the option to build your own using a generic case. We recommend Zotacs, more specifically, the Zotac Magnus EN1060K.
Small, cool and whisper quiet
The primary advantage, of course, is size: 210mm x 203mm x 62.2mm. The Zotac takes up a relatively small amount of space and it is extremely discreet. Its size also makes it very portable; as it connects wirelessly with the cameras, there is minimal wiring involved, so it's easy to relocate. Additionally, it uses less power than a normal desktop. Since it has limited room for memory and storage, there is very little demand for power outside of the primary processor.
Zotac's innovative design manages to cram a desktop class processor and a high-end GPU into a chassis that does a great job at balancing aesthetics, performance, temperature and noise.
It is extremely quiet, surprisingly quiet for a PC having a significant Nvidia GPU installed. We read many reviews online complaining about overheating, yet we've had three Zotacs stacked on top of each other and they are cool and whisper quiet.
Automate power recovery, manage remotely
Mini PCs like the Zotac have a recovery feature that allows them to automatically power themselves back on and return to their last state when power is restored after a sudden loss. While UPS solutions and industrial grade components go a long way toward ensuring system longevity, there are still situations where power loss is inevitable, so this feature is a big plus. On top of this, the Niro hub is powered by resin.io, allowing us to monitor the health of the device, deploy updates and restart it remotely, entirely removing the inconvenience of having to physically interact with them. This is particularly helpful if the hub needs to be positioned in hard-to-reach, out-of-the-way places.
The biggest challenge is the lack of room for endless expansion. In order to save space, many internal expansion slots and memory slots are removed. However, if storage space is an issue, the existing slots can be replaced with roomier hardware. We also compensate for this limitation on the software side of things: the Hub has ripple-delete functionality that deletes old footage from the hard drive.
So what are the Niro hub's technical specifications?
- Intel Core i5, 7th generation quad-core processor, which is especially performant for multimedia tasks like video transcoding. The i5 beats its predecessors in number of cores, clock speed and size of cache.
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, the most popular graphics card in the world, according to Steam's Hardware Survey. The 1060 doubles its predecessors' number of CUDA cores and has substantially better VRAM, allowing for a far better performance.
- 8GB RAM, in the form of a DDR4-2400 SODIMM. The Zotac can be expanded up to 32GB RAM if needed, but the Niro hub works perfectly with 8GB.
- 1 TB hard-drive, sufficient for thirty days of footage from four cameras recording 24/7 at 1mbps.
We have quoted similar specifications from different providers to compare price tags. The Zotac Magnus EN1060K is priced quite similarly to its tower cousins, contrary to what can be read in some online reviews. Even though Zotac does not sell directly to Australia, there are a few authorised distributors that hold stock of this unit and offer manufacturer warranty, so it is also convenient and easy to purchase.