Pizza box form factor

In computing, a pizza box is a style of case for computers or network switches. Cases of this type tend to be wide and flat, normally one or two rack units (1U or 2U, 1¾ or 3½ inch, 4.4 or 8.9 cm) in height, thus resembling pizza delivery boxes.

The Data General Aviion Unix server was advertised in 1991 with the tagline "Who just fit mainframe power in a pizza box?",[1] but most computers generally referred to as pizza box systems were high-end desktop systems such as Sun Microsystems workstations sold in the 1990s, most notably the SPARCstation 1 and SPARCstation 5. Other notable examples have been among the highest-performing desktop computers of their generations, including the SGI Indy, the NeXTstation, and the Amiga 1000, but the form factor was also seen in budget and lower-end lines such as the Macintosh LC family.[2]

A NeXTstation slab or pizza box workstation (2.52"/6.4cm high) sits flat under a 17"/43cm CRT monitor, 1990

The original SPARCstation 1 design included an expansion bus technology, SBus, expressly designed for the form factor; expansion cards were small, especially in comparison to other expansion cards in use at the time such as VMEbus, and were mounted horizontally instead of vertically. PC‑compatible computers in this type of case typically use the PCI expansion bus and are usually either a) limited to one or two horizontally placed expansion cards or b) require special low-profile expansion cards, shorter than the PCI cards regular PCs use.[3]

The density of computing power and stackability of pizza box systems also made them attractive for use in data centers. Systems originally designed for desktop use were placed on shelves inside of 19‑inch racks, sometimes requiring that part of their cases be cut off in order for them to fit. Since the late 1990s, pizza boxes have been a common form factor in data centers or industrial applications where rack space and density are critical. Servers in this form factor, as well as higher-end Ethernet switches, are now designed for rack mounting. Rack mount 1U computers come in all types of configurations and depths.

The pizza box form factor for smaller desktop systems and thin clients remains in use, though it is increasingly being superseded by nettops or All-in-One PC designs that embed the already size-reduced computer onto the keyboard or display monitor.

SPARCstation20 front and rear
Two SPARCstation 20 workstations stacked to show the front and back sides, a typical "pizza box" case
Silicon Graphics Indy
An SGI Indy


  1. ^ "Who just fit mainframe power in a pizza box... [advertisement]". CIO. 4 (7): 59. April 1991. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  2. ^ Kratzer, Gary (July 1993). "Reviews - Macintosh LC III". MacWorld Magazine. p. 134. The LC III shares the now-famous pizza-box design Apple pioneered with the original LC.
  3. ^ "Low-Profile PCI". PCI-SIG Frequently Asked Questions. PCI-SIG. Archived from the original on 2008-02-15. Retrieved 2008-02-17.

External links


1U may refer to:

ITA Software's IATA code

1U, a rack unit measurement

1U server; see Pizza box form factor

RS-1U, a type of K-5 (missile)

J-1U, a model of Auster Workmaster

SSH 1U (WA); see Washington State Route 503


The Amiga is a family of personal computers introduced by Commodore in 1985. The original model was part of a wave of 16- and 32-bit computers that featured 256 KB or more of RAM, mouse-based GUIs, and significantly improved graphics and audio over 8-bit systems. This wave included the Atari ST—released the same year—Apple's Macintosh, and later the Apple IIGS. Based on the Motorola 68000 microprocessor, the Amiga differed from its contemporaries through the inclusion of custom hardware to accelerate graphics and sound, including sprites and a blitter, and a pre-emptive multitasking operating system called AmigaOS.

The Amiga 1000 was released in July 1985, but a series of production problems kept it from becoming widely available until early 1986. The best selling model, the Amiga 500, was introduced in 1987 and became one of the leading home computers of the late 1980s and early 1990s with four to six million sold. The A3000, introduced in 1990, started the second generation of Amiga systems, followed by the A500+, and the A600 in March 1992. Finally, as the third generation, the A1200 and the A4000 were released in late 1992. The platform became particularly popular for gaming and programming demos. It also found a prominent role in the desktop video, video production, and show control business, leading to video editing systems such as the Video Toaster. The Amiga's native ability to simultaneously play back multiple digital sound samples made it a popular platform for early tracker music software. The relatively powerful processor and ability to access several megabytes of memory enabled the development of several 3D rendering packages, including LightWave 3D, Imagine, Aladdin4D, TurboSilver and Traces, a predecessor to Blender.

Although early Commodore advertisements attempt to cast the computer as an all-purpose business machine, especially when outfitted with the Amiga Sidecar PC compatibility add-on, the Amiga was most commercially successful as a home computer, with a wide range of games and creative software. Poor marketing and the failure of the later models to repeat the technological advances of the first systems meant that the Amiga quickly lost its market share to competing platforms, such as the fourth generation game consoles, Macintosh, and the rapidly dropping prices of IBM PC compatibles which gained 256-color VGA graphics in 1987. Commodore ultimately went bankrupt in April 1994 after the Amiga CD32 model failed in the marketplace.

Since the demise of Commodore, various groups have marketed successors to the original Amiga line, including Genesi, Eyetech, ACube Systems Srl and A-EON Technology. Likewise, AmigaOS has influenced replacements, clones and compatible systems such as MorphOS, AmigaOS 4 and AROS.


A Desktop traditionally refers to:

The surface of a desk (often to distinguish office appliances, such as photocopiers and printers, which fit on a desk, from larger equipment covering its own area on the floor)Desktop may refer to:

Desktop computer, a personal computer designed to fit on a desk

Pizza box form factor, a design of computer case

Desktop metaphor, especially the area behind the windows in a graphical user interface using this metaphor

Desktop environment, software that provides a comprehensive computer user interface

Client (computing), sometimes referred to as desktop to distinguish from the Server

Desktop (word processor), a word processor for Sinclair ZX Spectrum and compatible computers

Form factor (design)

Form factor is an aspect of hardware design which defines and prescribes the size, shape, and other physical specifications of components, particularly in consumer electronics and electronic packaging. A form factor may represent a broad class of similarly sized components, or it may prescribe a specific standard.

Macintosh LC II

The Macintosh LC II is a personal computer designed, manufactured, and sold by Apple Computer, Inc. from March 1992 to March 1993. The LC II is an update to the original Macintosh LC, replacing its Motorola 68020 processor with a 68030 and increasing the onboard memory to 4 MB. The LC II was priced at $1,699 USD, fully $800 less than the original LC when it was introduced.In September 1992, Apple introduced the Macintosh Performa family of consumer-oriented computers. The LC II was repackaged as the Performa 400. When LC II was replaced by the Macintosh LC III in early 1993, the LC II was discontinued in North America, and two new Performa models (the 405 and 430) were introduced in its place. In October, the Performa 400, 405 and 430 were all discontinued and a new LC II-based model called the Performa 410 was introduced which became Apple's new entry-level computer. The LC II continued to be sold in some markets for some time after that.

The LC II was Apple's highest-selling Macintosh product in 1992.

Macintosh LC family

The Macintosh LC is a family of personal computers designed, manufactured and sold by Apple Computer, Inc. from 1990 to 1997.

Introduced alongside the Macintosh IIsi and Macintosh Classic as part of a new wave of lower-priced Macintosh computers, the LC offered the same overall performance as the Macintosh II for half the price. Part of Apple's goal was to produce a machine that could be sold to school boards for the same price as an Apple IIGS,

a machine that was very successful in the education market. Not long after the Apple IIe Card was introduced for the LC, Apple officially announced the retirement of the IIGS, as the company wanted to focus its sales and marketing efforts on the LC.The original Macintosh LC was introduced on October 1990, with updates in the form of the LC II and LC III in 1992 and early 1993. These early models all shared the same pizza box form factor, and were joined by the Macintosh LC 500 series of all-in-one desktop machines in mid-1993. A total of twelve different LC models were produced by the company, the last of which, the Power Macintosh 5300 LC, was on sale until early 1997.

Macintosh Quadra 605

The Macintosh Quadra 605 (also sold as the Macintosh LC 475 and Macintosh Performa 475) is a personal computer designed, manufactured, and sold by Apple Computer, Inc. from October 1993 to July 1996. The model names reflect a decision made at Apple in 1993 to follow an emerging industry trend of naming product families for their target customers – Quadra for business, LC for education, and Performa for home. Accordingly, the Performa 475 and 476 was sold in department stores and electronics stores such as Circuit City, whereas the Quadra was purchased through an authorized Apple reseller.

When introduced, the Quadra 605 was the least expensive new computer in Apple's lineup. (The Performa 410, introduced at the same time, at the same price of about $1,000 USD, which included a monitor, was based on the much older Macintosh LC II with a 16 MHz 68030 processor.) The Quadra 605 reuses the Macintosh LC III's pizza box form factor with minor modifications.The Quadra 605 was discontinued in October 1994, and the LC 475 variant continued to be sold to schools until July 1996. Apple offered no direct replacement for these machines, making it the final Macintosh to use the LC's lightweight slim-line form factor. Apple would not release another desktop computer under 10 pounds (4.5 kg) until the Mac Mini, nearly ten years later.

Macintosh Quadra 610

The Macintosh Quadra 610, originally called the Macintosh Centris 610, is a personal computer designed, manufactured and sold by Apple Computer from February 1993 to July 1994. The Centris 610 was introduced alongside the larger Centris 650 as the replacement for the Macintosh IIsi, and it was intended as the start of the new midrange Centris line of computers. Later in 1993, Apple decided to follow an emerging industry trend of naming product families for their target customers – Quadra for business, LC for education, and Performa for home – and folded the Centris 610 into the Quadra family.The 610 is the second Macintosh case design (after the Macintosh LC family) to use a pizza box form factor; it was later used for the Centris / Quadra 660AV and the Power Macintosh 6100. The Quadra 610 was also sold in a "DOS compatible" model with an additional 486SX processor at 25 MHz on a Processor Direct Slot card.

A server variant, the Workgroup Server 60, was introduced in July 1993 with a 20 MHz processor, which received the same 25 MHz upgrade in October. A "DOS Compatible" version was introduced in February 1994 as a way for Apple to judge whether the market would be interested in a Macintosh that could also run DOS. The product was deemed by Apple a success, selling all 25,000 units that were produced in two months.The Quadra 610 was replaced with the Quadra 630 in July 1994, and the Workgroup Server 6150 replaced the Workgroup Server 60 as Apple's entry-level server offering.


NeXTstation is a high-end workstation computer developed, manufactured and sold by NeXT from 1990 until 1993. It runs the NeXTSTEP operating system. The NeXTstation was released as a more affordable alternative to the NeXTcube at about US$4,995 or about half the price. Several models were produced, including the NeXTstation (25 MHz), NeXTstation Turbo (33 MHz), NeXTstation Color (25 MHz) and NeXTstation Turbo Color (33 MHz). In total, NeXT sold about 50,000 computers (not including sales to government organizations), making the NeXTstation a rarity today.The NeXTstation originally shipped with a NeXT MegaPixel 17" monitor (with built-in speakers), keyboard, and mouse. It is nicknamed "the slab", since the pizza box form factor contrasts quite sharply with the original NeXT Computer's basic shape (otherwise known as "the cube").

SPARCstation 10

The SPARCstation 10 (codenamed Campus-2) is a workstation computer made by Sun Microsystems. Announced in May 1992, it was Sun's first desktop multiprocessor (being housed in a pizza box form factor case). It was later replaced with the SPARCstation 20.

The 40 MHz SPARCstation 10 without external cache was the reference for the SPEC CPU95[1] benchmark.

SPARCstation 2

The SPARCstation 2, or SS2 (code named Calvin, Sun 4/75) is a SPARC workstation computer sold by Sun Microsystems. It is based on the sun4c architecture, and is implemented in a pizza box form factor.

SPARCstation IPC

SPARCstation IPC (Sun 4/40) is a workstation sold by Sun Microsystems. It is based on the sun4c architecture, and is enclosed in a lunchbox chassis.

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