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Nearly every motherboard and chassis maker we contacted for this story had a similar position on DTX. Publicly, they have all announced support for the standard, usually in the form of a single product or project, in conjunction with AMD's efforts. Privately, they are hedging their bets, waiting to see whether DTX gains any momentum in the market before committing to producing anything in volume.

One source at a major motherboard company indicated to us that the DTX push needs more focus and clarity from AMD on the question of whether the first products should focus on mainstream SFF desktops, home theater PCs, or some other segment of the market. The same source pointed out that history tell us DTX needs support from chassis makers, even more than motherboard manufacturers, in order to succeed.

Time and again, we heard manufacturers tell us they are waiting for someone else to make the leap in support of DTX. And, realistically speaking, they're quite credible in saying that they're ready to produce motherboards and the like when the market demands them. They're just waiting for somebody—AMD, big PC makers, their competitors, the press, whomever—to make the first move.

I don't expect that first move to come from large PC OEMs, for what it's worth. They seem to be doing quite well with designing their own proprietary SFF systems, and a broadly accepted standard would only invite more competition from smaller players. AMD couldn't name a single OEM that was backing the DTX push. Then again, we don't really deal often with large PC makers around here, so I haven't been able to get a clear read on their intentions.

Obviously, it's early still in the life of DTX, and AMD is still in development with its own reference design. I expect attitudes to change as the development process continues. At some point, the first mass-produced DTX products will arrive, and the industry will be watching to see how they fare. If they do well, others will follow.

The arrival of a DTX prototype system in Damage Labs is, among other things, a trial balloon. AMD and its partners are watching to see how the public reacts to the DTX story, so they can drum up some support and plan their next moves. For my part, I like the DTX concept, and I think the DTX reference prototype is a good start. As a PC enthusiast, I'd like to see a little more room for expansion of certain types—specifically, a second hard drive and full-height PCI/PCIe cards, both of which Shuttle has managed to shoehorn into its XPC cases. Both things could be accomplished within the scope of the Full DTX spec, probably in a case of this size. Beyond that, most of the things I want from DTX are the same things I'd want in a full-sized PC: reasonably full-featured motherboards with decent overclocking options, truly high-fidelity audio, quality power supplies, good acoustics, and reasonable component prices. Compromises are inevitable with a system of this size, of course, but being able to choose the trade-offs for oneself when building such a system would be priceless. We stand ready to review DTX motherboards, cases, power supplies, and all the rest, just as soon as somebody makes the first move. TR

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