SFF and Nettops - History of the Desktop
Small form factor PC designs, short SFF PC, break down a desktop's components to a minimum in order to achieve a decrease in physical volume of the PC casing. The first SFF PCs arrived with the microATX motherboard standard in 1997, which shrunk to the mini-ITX in 2001 and nano-ITX in 2003. The currently smallest design is the pico-ITX board (2007) with a size of 3.9 × 2.8 inches. With the exception of microATX, all SFF board designs were driven by Via Technologies. The most famous SFF design is Apple's Mac mini, which can be bought with an Intel Core i7 processor, 4 GB memory and up to 1 TB HDD space. Following its initial release in 2005, Intel built a prototype clone, which was adopted by manufacturers such as Aopen and Voodoo PC, but discontinued shortly thereafter. SFF PCs are still popular in business environments that are constrained by available space, but the current trend appears to be favoring LCD-based All-in-One designs as, for example, Dell, HP and Lenovo recently updated their product offerings with such products.