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New Nano-ITX Boards Shown At Cebit 228

Posted by timothy
from the lust dept.
Subartik writes "The new nano-itx boards from Via have been shown at the CeBit show in Germany. It looks like it will be a suitable platform for all kinds of small form factor devices. See VIA embedded and Linux Devices for the specs and pictures" An anonymous reader points to PC World articles about the Nano-ITX board itself as well as the first system which will include it.
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New Nano-ITX Boards Shown At Cebit

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  • Ironic Advertising (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I load up the PC World article [pcworld.com] on nano-tech and what ad do I see? That's right, an ad for ENIACS [www.fitg.de] on the cheap.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    hmmmm??
  • my dream (Score:5, Funny)

    by wed128 (722152) <woodrowdouglass@@@gmail...com> on Saturday March 20, 2004 @08:03PM (#8623602)
    i can finally realise my dream of cramming a computer onto my bike!
  • Pictures (Score:5, Informative)

    by JPriest (547211) on Saturday March 20, 2004 @08:08PM (#8623626) Homepage
    Mini-ITX has some pictures here [mini-itx.com]
  • by gklinger (571901) on Saturday March 20, 2004 @08:09PM (#8623636)
    Let me get this straight. We've got ATX, Extended ATX, FlexATX, WATX, Mini ATX, microATX and now Nano-ITX? How is anyone suppose to keep this straight? What a pain in the atx. I will say this, these boards are getting pretty small. The article gave the dimensions as 3.7 inches by 5.9 inches by 6.3 inches. Nanode must have invented a debigulator.
  • Embedded (Score:5, Funny)

    by oO Peeping Tom Oo (750505) on Saturday March 20, 2004 @08:10PM (#8623637)
    Wow! This'll open the door for much more efficient/interoperable embedded computers! Just think about it: A more advanced Big Mouth Billy Bass!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Somebody needs to write a Linux driver for that shit! That would be so badass. The Eden chip is sweet and all (low power usage, low heat emission -- so no CPU fan) but it's not nearly as computationally capable as Intel or AMD's latest and greatest. But I bet if the Linux loopback encrypted filesystem had a driver for that chip, it would fly in comparison to even the fastest PIII!
  • IPv6 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zathras26 (763537)
    A few people earlier today were wondering why anyone would need IPv6, since IPv4 "obviously has enough address space". Developments like this should pretty clearly demonstrate that that's not the case. It probably won't be too terribly long before even your fridge will need an IP so you can program your refrigerator to know when it needs to order more groceries and the like. And that's just practical applications; toy and game manufacturers are going to go nuts with this.
    • by G4from128k (686170) on Saturday March 20, 2004 @08:38PM (#8623814)
      A few people earlier today were wondering why anyone would need IPv6, since IPv4 "obviously has enough address space". Developments like this should pretty clearly demonstrate that that's not the case. It probably won't be too terribly long before even your fridge will need an IP so you can program your refrigerator to know when it needs to order more groceries and the like.

      Absolutely. In fact, your fridge might demand an entire subnet. Smaller, cheaper boards drive appliance makers to a federated, modular architectures in which every new function has its own CPU. Your fridge might need range of IPs addys if it has an ice maker, RFID-reading intelli-chiller, home-message center, Kalory-Kounter terahertz sensor array, Phreshness Gas Sensor, Open-Door SMS alert sender, remote shopping list VPN website, etc.

      Its just much easier to make a bunch of modules that sit on a network than create a bloatware central system that has wires for every conceivable add-on function.
      • Uh oh... now you've got me worried. What happens when a script kiddie hacks into my fridge and orders a million gallons of ice cream in my name? I suppose if it's a Microsoft Fridge (tm), it's going to need frequent patching. Or I could use an Apple Macintosh Fridge, which will be more secure but hold only a few kinds of food.
        • Uh oh... now you've got me worried. What happens when a script kiddie hacks into my fridge and orders a million gallons of ice cream in my name? I suppose if it's a Microsoft Fridge (tm), it's going to need frequent patching. Or I could use an Apple Macintosh Fridge, which will be more secure but hold only a few kinds of food.

          LOL! And perhaps Linux fridge would only accept plain-text standardized food found for free on the road side?

          But the script kiddie/Home appliance problem might be worse than you
    • Re:IPv6 (Score:3, Insightful)

      Please explain to me why my fridge needs a publicly addressable IP.
      • Just because it isn't in the public address space doesnt mean that it would be accessable. Using NAT where everyone has the same "private" address range is just plain evil. With real firewalls and not the dumb "router/firewall" you get for $20 at frys, everyone could have a "public" unique address for every device in the house, and still be protected against hackers etc in the same way you are now with NAT.
  • Heat? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hermeshome.se (233303)
    Anyone know how they plan to cool the CPU? Passive or active cooling? I am not an expert on VIAs CPUs at all. Hopefully they wont be as bad as AMDs first 1GHz...

    And are there any cases ready to deliver, that support this new "standard"?
    • Re:Heat? (Score:4, Informative)

      by hermeshome.se (233303) on Saturday March 20, 2004 @08:26PM (#8623716) Homepage
      I'm sorry, RTFA!

      "None of these processors require a cooling fan, which means that the PC can be substantially quieter than other computers based on processors requiring cooling fans."

      Bah.
    • Re:Heat? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Illissius (694708)
      Passive, that's the entire point. Their 1GHz CPU consumes 7W. (Yes. Seven. Which happens to be the same as Transmeta's Efficeon.) By comparison, Intel's current ~3GHz P4s consume around 70-80W, and their new (Prescott core) P4s over 100W.
      • Re:Heat? (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        and the 533 MHz Eden chip only use about 2 Watts... too bad they don't make laptops with this chip (at least i don't think they do)
      • Re:Heat? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by JPriest (547211)
        And a 1GHz via C3 is also comparable to a 400 MHz celeron.
        • Re:Heat? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by smallfries (601545)
          Not really. The 1Ghz nehemiah next to me has no problems decoding divx movies that a P3-500 can't handle. I'm not sure exactly, but I think its about the same as a P3-800.
          • Older Via-CPU's were REALLY slow. They had half-speed FPU's for example. Current 1GHz CPU's are considerably better. They have SSE-support and full-speed FPU's. No, they are not speed-monsters when compared to Intel or AMD (even when comparing clock-for-clock), but they are "fast enough", while running really cool. And the built-in encryption-engine is REALLY fast (fater than hi-end P4 for example).
            • Errr ;^) That was my point. The article is about the Nehemiah processor, the only difference for the new form factor is that there is a new package for the chip. I was arguing that they are "fast enough".
    • Re:Heat? (Score:3, Informative)

      The thing consumes 2.5Watts. For comparison, a 3.2GHz P4 consumes approximately 100W, a current Itanium-2 approximately 150W, and a Pentium-M "centrino" 1.4Ghz chip: 28W. So, to answer your question, hell, you could attach a single flattened penny to this thing and it would keep it from overheating :)
  • Pictures (Score:2, Informative)

    by molafson (716807)
    Here's some pictures and specs [mini-itx.com] from the Nano-ITX PC that Mini-ITX.com is selling.
  • Tons of uses... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by l33t-gu3lph1t3 (567059) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <61legna_hcra>> on Saturday March 20, 2004 @08:42PM (#8623835) Homepage
    Here's some ideas:

    -Homebrew $200 firewalls (routers, gateways, etc) with much, much greater capabilities than those little D-Link units.
    -Personal NAS devices that, again, are mega-cheap and tiny
    -home automation devices: c'mon, who hasn't dreamed of fully automating their house?
    -motorcycle-based GPS system anyone?
    -cheapass public terminal systems: incorporate one of these into an LCD screen?
    -smaller tablets, laptops with longer battery life? Sure there's not much computational power, but if you're just doing surfing or doing office chores...
    -add a single wifi chip/small antenna and you have instant access point. I bet Starbucks would love this idea. Instant, easy, cheap wireless internet.

    Now, personally, I think these things could be great building blocks for doing distributed computing research. You could build a rather large network of these tiny things into a standard ATX tower, and have yourself a portable beowulf cluster, or hell, nice little units to experiment with distributed computing ideas. I can see it now: a couple of 8-drive HDD external bays, with each slot housing full systems!

    • Most of your ideas are bad ideas: the Nano-ITX would be a fine firewall, but a complete overkill because the rest of its functionality would be unused. There are plenty of other devices that are better placed to be a nuts'n' bolts firewall. The great thing about the explosion of types of computing devices on the market is that you can choose just the right one for your needs: e.g. if you were building a grid computing cluster, you'd be wasting money using a nano-ITX, better to go for something even more bar
    • Re:Tons of uses... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kinema (630983)
      a portable beowulf cluster
      Take a look at PROTEUS [mini-itx.com]. It's a 12 node massively parallel Mini-ITX cluster. It was built by Glen Gardner. According to Glen it has the processing power of between four and six 2.6GHz Pentium IV boards. The nodes run FreeBSD 4.6 and use MPICH 1.2.5.2 for message passing.
      • Boy, Glen seems to like the sound of his name, from this feedback form [mini-itx.com] to your post. It has a creepy Branch Davidian feel to it. Also, I once lived near Glen Gardner [google.com] New Jersey, which wins the Google popcon in a big way. Maybe that's why it creeps me out.
    • Nonsense. What a waste of resources. Also, you clearly don't know what it really costs. What would you rather have - a 2.5 GHz Wintel Dell workstation ($399 deal right now) or one of these which will probably cost more when you get a case and memory and a disk....?
    • All that text just to say "Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these!"

    • I can see it now: a couple of 8-drive HDD external bays, with each slot housing full systems!

      That's been possible for a while. Terrasoft Solutions, [terrasoftsolutions.com] the people who port Redhat to the PPC, sell a computer that come in a 5.25" CD-ROM-style enclosure.

  • Cost? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday March 20, 2004 @08:43PM (#8623838) Homepage Journal
    Didnt see it mentioned how much these things will be.

    If they are more then 100 bucks or so, they wont be too useful for the 'embedded market' they are trying to enter. ( plus they are still a tad too big and power hungry for that.. )
    • Not necessarily. Embedded systems are typically running Pentiums or slower CPU's. Just looking at the size of this board, it looks almost the same size as a PC104 form factor. If via could develop to that spec there may be a market for a very high performance embedded system. Their processors could also be designed for much lower power specs if you aren't as concerned with performance (run at quarter speed or lower).

      Also, if you could purchase an embedded system for only $100 that would be a pretty good de
    • Big? Power-hungry? 2.5 watts is certainly not power-hungry. And as for big, this thing's 6x6". It could fit in my cable modem.
  • I love the form factor but when will motherboard manufacturers as a whole produce something with integrated video that supports DVI for flat-panel displays? Integrated video sucks for games of course but it's fine for office work, and that's exactly where the sharp text from an LCD screen is needed most. The DVI port supports analog screens too, so why isn't it being used?
    • LCD monitors can use VGA interface, as almost all have a VGA input or a converter cable. Compare this with CRT monitor, which usually lack a DVI-VGA converter, and you realise that you reach a bigger market with VGA than you do with DVI.
    • Re:No DVI :( (Score:3, Informative)

      by sprprsnmn (619113)
      It doesn't need DVI as it has 2 LVDS ports on the board itself.
    • I don't think this machine is aimed at the LCD screen market. All the via mico and nano boards have S-Video out on them. These kind of machines, especially the cool looking nanode, are designed to sit in your lounge and be connected up to the TV. Once they release a price, and assuming I can afford one, that will be my aim. Buy one, install linux, wire up to the TV and install one of the great linux media station packages.
  • I see it's got MPEG playback built in, but what's the real-world performance of these systems going to be? This is significantly smaller than anything that's gone before and it could be a pretty sweet device to sit under my TV... if it performs right.
  • So how's the Linux support for these babies? Last time I checked, Via's mini-itx boards had quite flaky Linux support, ie. binary drivers for redhat 8.0 only and other stupid shit like that.

    I'm really interested in building a computer out of this, but if I can only use half of the builtin hardware due to shitty and/or non-existant Linux drivers, I'm not going to buy it.
    • Indeed. I'm wondering whether VIA is going to pull their finger out and actually offer some active support to the development of XFree86 drivers, for example. I've had VIA EPIA (Mini-ITX) systems for quite some time now, but it's only in the last month or so that native video chipset support has become available for them in XFree86. Presumably VIA funds the development of their own Windows drivers -- is it too much to ask that they aid in the development of X drivers just by releasing some programming specs
  • by l33t-gu3lph1t3 (567059) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <61legna_hcra>> on Saturday March 20, 2004 @09:19PM (#8624081) Homepage
    Design a custom 4U case, and mount these blade-style in the case, each with a tiny little 2 or 4GB flash drive. I'm willing to bet that a 4U half-depth case could support 12 of these things, with a low-power redundant PSU to power the array. Get a 72U rack, fill it with these things, and you have 216 systems on a single half-depth rack, consuming ~600 watts of power.

    Oh god, would I love to build such an array...oh baby...
  • I had trouble finding this from the supplied link, this one works much better:

    Nanode Computer [mini-itx.com]

    I can see getting one of these. Finally a PC with the slickitude of the Apple iCube, and NO FAN!
  • Just what is available in mini-PCI format?

    I haven't found more that wireless and lan cards.

    • http://www.soekris.com/ [soekris.com] has a Mini-PCI based hardware encryption device, the vpn1211.

      It is designed to be used with their micro-systems (which are much better suited for the frequently suggested task of being a firewall, due to the available dual NICs), but miniPCI is miniPCI, and there are experimental linux drivers [sourceforge.net] (as well as full driver support for Open/NetBSD)
  • Would be nice to see one of these boards with dual on-board NICS. Combined with a CD-ROM or Flash memory storage, would make a nice small Firewall system.
  • How about booting one of these off a CF card and running it as a silent Network based DivX player? No fans or hard-disk and it has a TV-Out! :D

    *This isn't my idea. I just took it from Jonty, thanks mate.
  • by jridley (9305)
    Doesn't look 1 billionth the size of a normal ITX board to me. Should be about the size of a very small dust speck.
    • What's a normal ITX? I've never seen one. (Posting from a Mini-ITX.)
      • Well, one can assume that it's smaller than baby-AT. Take baby-at as a maximum size, hell, take full size AT, the old ones that totally fill an AT case. One billionth of that.

        Oh well, it was a weak joke to start with, and between the two of us we killed it off.
  • not by the size of the Nanode or the nano-itx board but by the lack of Beowulf/Xgrid comments.
  • The board is still 12cm by 12cm, the same size as the Mini-ITX form factor. The board is the thing carrying the "nano" designation.

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