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Sneak Preview of VIA's next-gen mini-ITX mobo 218

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the its-so-adorable dept.
An anonymous reader writes "VIA will preview its next-generation mini-ITX board for the consumer electronics market at next week's Computex 2004 in Taipei. The EPIA SP features a new graphics and memory controller hub (GMCH) supporting faster front-side bus (FSB), memory, and southbridge interconnect speeds. It also features a C3 processor clocked at 1.3GHz, integrated PadLock Hardware Security Suite, and MPEG-4 acceleration. Oh, and like the current top-end MII 12000 VIA board, the whole board probably draws under 20watts running flat out."
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Sneak Preview of VIA's next-gen mini-ITX mobo

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  • by Mz6 (741941) * on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:38PM (#9270556) Journal
    These boards make for a great use in the car. I have used several of these boards to create a carputer [mp3car.com] for movies, music, and navigation inside my car.

    I have one myself and I love it :)

    • you run windows then. as there is no NAVIGATION software for linux available.

      Yes gpsdrive is a moving map display but it does not have any navigation capabilities... I.E. "turn left in 300 feet continue on E drive for 5000 feet and then merge left."

      I would LOVE to have some real linux navigation software.... but delorme will never make a native linux app and only their old version 5.0 will run under wine correctly.

      • True... One of the biggest reasons why I did this to my car was that I wanted to be able to incorporate MP3s and movies into it, but also have navigation as a MUST. Unfortunately, as you say, there is no linux software that supports navigation as accurate as say some of the Windows software out. Not to mention that most of the software developed especially for use inside a vehicle is all windows based anyhow.

        I bit the bullet and *gasp* run XP for it... Let the Microsoft flaming ensue...

        • What are you gasping for, you have simply decided to use the best tool for the job.

          I think that this is what we should all be pushing. If linux is a better system for the job, use it, don't use it because it is not Microsoft.
    • by legoburner (702695) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:56PM (#9270768) Homepage Journal
      Screw cars... think supercomputing cluster. VIA have been talking about a dual CPU mini-itx board with 2ghz (esther core) processors for a while now. I'll leave finding info about them up to you (mini-itx.com and via's site for starters)

      You can get 1U cases which let you put in 2 mini-itx boards (there are quite a few if you [g|fr]oogle.

      Here are some specs for a rack full of them...
      336GHz total power. 84GB RAM, up to 22.5 TB HDD space, total power usage < 15kW (60W per machine).

      Costs:
      fixed:
      42U rack: $150
      Cables/Power supplies: ~$100

      per-unit:
      case: $200
      mobo (guess): $200
      ram (512GB*2): $120
      HDD (300GB): $250

      ttl per machine: 200+2(200)+2(120)+2(250)=$1340
      42 machines=$56280
      + rack bits=$56530

      in GBP=30584 (I am British)

      that's a spicy-a meat-a-ball.. still 22TB and 336Ghz cluster... hmmmm... Might get 5fps on Doom 3!

      15kW/h
      To be extra geeky... cost per day to run in London, England (electricity only, excluding air conditioning)...
      15kW/h per hour * 24 = 360kW/h per day
      * 8p per unit + VAT = 2880 + 504
      = GBP 33.84 per day
      = GBP 12351.60 per year.... ouch, that's a new rack every 3 years if you leave it turned off though

      Damn I cant wait for the 2ghz dual cpu mini-itx boards... and a bunch of rich, obscure relatives to pass on and give me money >:)

      And since this is slashdot... cue the 50 posts to correct and nit pick this post since it contains (bad) maths.
  • Where do you BUY this stuff from? I used to buy those VIA boards from New Egg but then they stopped carrying them. Anyone know why?

    I really liked those things!

    • Froogle (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mz6 (741941) * on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:40PM (#9270580) Journal
      • Re:Froogle (Score:3, Informative)

        by anethema (99553)
        While Froogle is your friend indeed, a search for VIA wont turn up very good results.

        What you want to search for is EPIA, since all the mini-itx boards carry the epia name.
    • I get mine exclusivley from ebay. Just try to get a real new one with guarantee. Never had any issues. I really like the Epias and I'm still trying to convince my mom to let me build a sleak Epia based Linuxbox for her. Somehow she still thinks those things are expensive. Well, I can't blame her really, she never ever paid a single dime for a PC. All she ever uses is my last generation hardware. ;-)
    • Re:Yeah but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kenja (541830) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:45PM (#9270652)
      Mini-ITX.com [mini-itx.com]
    • www.mini-itx.com

      Has all the mini-itx related stuff you could ever want, and has a handy store too ;)
    • Re:Yeah but... (Score:2, Informative)

      by kunudo (773239)
      Forget mini-itx, I want to know when Nano-ITX [mini-itx.com] will be availible... I get the distinct feeling that it's a vaporvare promo trick... it's only 2/3 of the size of the mini-itx boards and 10x as useful/easy to put into things.... I want one :(
      • by Cpt_Kirks (37296)
        VIA had them out in public at E3. I want one BAD.

        The only problem is they HAVE NO PCI SLOT! There is a miniPCI slot, but what's that good for? I want a miniPCI TV Tuner so I can make a tiny PVR. I found one here [lifeview.com.tw] , but it looks like vapor.

        I can go USB, but USB tuners have a reputation for sucking.

        And now VIA is pushing a new Grace platform that is supposed to be even SMALLER than nano-itx...
    • Quite a few places. In Europe linitx.com. There are a few places in the US as well.

      In btw, I may be mistaken, but I have some questions about the reality of the article as well as the integrity of the journalist who wrote it. The picture looks suspiciously like MII, probably the 600MHz version with the heatsink taken off the Eden on it. It has PCMCIA and cardbus and is C3 based. It is not the C5 motherboard described in the article.
    • Re:Yeah but... (Score:2, Informative)

      by eviljav (68734)
      try www.idot.com [idot.com]
  • 1.3ghz (Score:2, Funny)

    by zackeller (653801)
    1.3ghz should be enough for anybody.
    • Re:1.3ghz (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andy Mitchell (780458)

      1.3Ghz should be enough for anyone but....

      The VIA C3 had a rather poor floating point unit, so for apps that need it (e.g. 3D games) they do very badly.

      Of course for playing MP3 or WMA files and office apps the older 533MHz (Eden 5000) version was nippy enough :-)

      As far as I'm aware they havent improved the FPU yet. Someone let me know if I'm wrong. This armchair CPU designer would of liked to see them throw more silicon at this area.

      Simply increasing the clock speed always generates more heat, a mo

      • As far as I'm aware they havent improved the FPU yet. Someone let me know if I'm wrong. This armchair CPU designer would of liked to see them throw more silicon at this area.

        Simply increasing the clock speed always generates more heat, a more complex FPU would only generate more heat if your making use of the FPU.


        According to VIA's own benchmarks, you are correct, the FPU is still as terrible as in the old Cyrix chips. The emphasis seems to be on power consumption with these mini-ITX boards, and of cours
      • Re:1.3ghz (Score:3, Informative)

        by homer_ca (144738)
        The FPU is a little better now. It runs at full CPU speed instead of half like the earlier C3's. It's still underpowered though. Sudhian has a review of the last generation MII 12000 here [sudhian.com]. The 1.2Ghz w/o hardware MPEG4 acceleration can't play 720x540 DIVX file smoothly. If the hardware MPEG4 works, 1.3Ghz should be fast enough for any home theater PC job except video encoding like recording TV. You'll need a TV tuner card with a hardware MPEG encoder.
        • Re:1.3ghz (Score:5, Informative)

          by pc486 (86611) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @07:03PM (#9272452) Homepage
          While it is true that the FPU of the C3 still isn't up to speed with other processors, the C3 1Ghz can definatly play 720x540 MPEG4 back at full speed. I do it all the time with a CVS copy of MPlayer (DirectFB driver) on Slackware Linux. I can even play 720x460 WMV9 (windows binary DLL) with 80% cpu utilization. For comparison, libavcodec decodes 640x480 MPEG4 with only 32% CPU utilization, with 14% going to dealing with the framebuffer (not decoding, just frame copying or vsyncing).
  • oooh car (Score:4, Funny)

    by millahtime (710421) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:40PM (#9270584) Homepage Journal
    makes my dreams of building KITT that much closer to reality.

    That is the Knight Industries Two Thousand
  • The EPIA-800 ... it is okay I suppose, it does what I'm using it for quite well (KDE on FreeBSD for work purposes, e-mail, light web browsing, SSH, etc). It suffers from being a first-gen product, the chipset is weak, and so on.

    A 1.3GHz CN400 based board will be a lot more powerful, and should be more than enough for media applications that these boards are ideally suited for.
  • by Amgine007 (88004) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:42PM (#9270610)
    The Nano-ITX board [mini-itx.com] that they announced last year still seems to be the coolest thing around in terms of potential for off-the-shelf, single board computer projects.

    I mean, it's only 4.7 inches by 4.7 inches! Of course I've never seen a price, but sell this thing in the $100 range and I'll take 3...
  • DRM? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Atario (673917) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:42PM (#9270614) Homepage
    The latest C3 processor features an integrated AES encryption engine and two random number generators that work with the PadLock ACE software to perform user authentication, DRM, or other security operations in the background
    [Cue orchestra]: DUN DUN DUNNNNN!!
    • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:03PM (#9270841) Homepage
      ...no, it's not Palladium/Trusted Computing etc. Basicly, what it has is an encryption accelerator, just like it has mpeg2, mpeg4 etc. acceleration. Why? Because the processor itself is a whimp.

      It doesn't do anything else than what a plain 3GHz machine could do. DRM is one *application*, since most DRM'd content is also encrypted ;). But it might just as well be used to run heavy SSH connections or your encrypted P2P net of choice.

      Kjella
  • by anthonyrcalgary (622205) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:44PM (#9270639)
    I thought about getting one of the older ones, and my local place can order them in if you ask... try this with your local store. It's not worth hunting around online for a better price when shipping will eat the advantage many times over. With more expensive parts, it can be worth it but these things are cheap.

    I imagine I'll get one when there's dual-NIC version. They're pretty tough to beat for firewalling. There's cheaper and lower power systems in existance, but you usually sacrifice quite a bit.
  • by donfede (6215) * on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:53PM (#9270736) Homepage
    Interesting, VIA is announcing yet more new products... Yet, I've been looking for the past several weeks (and other posts on the Internet go as far back as Nov of 2003) for VIA's latest generation Athlon XP chipset KT880 via kt880 [via.com.tw]... yet other than VIAs website, it's nowhere to be seen!!!
  • PVR? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dostert (761476) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:55PM (#9270761)
    Has anyone tried setting up a nice small PVR with any of these? If you put like a Hauppauge 250 or another hardware encoding card in this, is there enough power for recording and watching TV at the same time? How about VIA's graphics? I assume I wouldn't be able to play FarCry... but will it be adequate to display DVDs on a non HDTV?
    • Re:PVR? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cpt_Kirks (37296)
      I use an ATI TV Wonder VE with my M10000 board. Works fine for recording/playback, but forget about pausing live tv.

      DVDs play fine, too. So does about every video codec I've thrown at it.

  • Question ? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Jim Buzbee (517)
    the whole board probably draws under 20watts running flat out.

    For the ignorant among us, how does that compare to say the power consumed by a 20 watt night light? Is it the same?

    • It is pretty obvious from your post that your mind has been corrupted by the (ab)use of the imperial systems ;)

      (the answer is they are equivalent)

    • If running flat out continues, then it will draw exactly the same power as a 20 watt lightbulb. (1 kilowatt hour every 50 hours, about $0.08)
    • Well... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kjella (173770) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:30PM (#9271118) Homepage
      ...if you're an electrical engineer, no. The motherboard is probably reactive/inductive in some way, not purely resistive like a lightbulb. This means that the phase angle will be non-zero, and the true and apparent power of the circuit will be different.

      ...if you're talking about your electricity bill, then for all you could care, they're equal. 20W will be extremely close to 20W, regardless of what I said above. Personally I don't care much, since I live a place where most of the year have a space heater on...

      Kjella
      • close, have a cigar (Score:3, Informative)

        by poptones (653660)
        It's not the motherboard that's "inductive" (although everything does have inductance, capaitance, etc). What matters here is the power supply itself. Most every pc power supply (I would say every one of them, but there's probably one or two out there that would prove this wrong) uses switching circuitry to chop down a "bulk" supply of 70-200VDC into something the computer can use. This "bulk supply" was, in the beginning, created by simply rectifying the AC line directly and dumping into a fat capacitor. M
  • by dcstimm (556797) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:04PM (#9270852) Homepage
    its been like 8 months since they were announced but no one seems to have them!!
  • by xlyz (695304) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:08PM (#9270881) Journal

    unless you need a real compact design, microatx + mobile processor can deliver same low consumption and more power and expansion possibility

    look for an Athlon Northwood to undervolt and it will be d*mn cheaper as well
    • No, it isn't, at least energy wise.

      Problem No. 1: The VRM (voltage regulator module).

      Efficiency is low.

      Problem No. 2: The power supply unit.

      Efficiency is low. Especially if you have a 300 watt unit and a computer that only uses say 60 watts.

      German computer magazine c't has measured such a setup. I don't have the article handy, so I quote from memory.

      If you reduce the power consumption of your CPU by 40 watts, less than 20 watts will be saved due to the loss of the PSU and the VRM.

      So if you really wan
  • Yes but (Score:2, Funny)

    by mobby_6kl (668092)
    Yes, but would it fit in a 5.25" slot?
    Then I could have a beowulf cluser right there in my bigtower case.
  • I must agree with other posters: the VIA boards are most definitely the shit. And the older ones, like the V-8000A, are a steal. I currently have Fedora Core v1 + XMMS on mine; to make a long story short, lots of fun..

    HOWEVER, do note that some VIA processors will advertise themselves as "686-compliant", when in fact their instruction set is missing 1 vital MMX instruction (SSE, I think). So do make sure your binaries are built for the 586. You'll thank me in the morning.

    • Re:Only one catch.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by TeknoHog (164938) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:23PM (#9271054) Homepage Journal
      HOWEVER, do note that some VIA processors will advertise themselves as "686-compliant", when in fact their instruction set is missing 1 vital MMX instruction (SSE, I think). So do make sure your binaries are built for the 586. You'll thank me in the morning.

      MMX is a set of integer vector operations, SSE is the same for floating point. Neither of these implies 686; Pentium Pro was the first processor with i686 core, and it has neither of these instruction sets.

      To complicate matters further, GCC's idea of i686 seems a little different than the official spec (whatever that is). AFAIK, AMD's K6 processors are i686, but programs compiled with gcc for i686 won't run on it. I think it's about the CMOV instruction; please correct me if I'm wrong.

    • by Daath (225404)
      I've got a nice VIA Epia board (C3 Nehemiah).
      The instruction in question is CMOV.
      To build for these machines with recent GCCs build with c3 as -march or -mcpu :) If you don't use a recent gcc compile with i586 instead - Mine supports MMX+SSE (it has two SSE pipes).
  • I have a few ideas for computer designs, one of which is for a mobile computer. I know you can get just about anything you need for a desktop system but, it there anything available that would allow someone to design and build his own, battery-powered, mobile computer "off-the-shelf"?

    Thanks,

    • Wonder if this one would make a good "Ask Slashdot"?...

      I've been wondering lately myself about this. Just how inexpensively can one put together a reasonably-useful yet reasonably-standard computer off-the-shelf? (As opposed to "go on E-bay and see if you can find X" or "if you can find THIS version of THIS hardware, you can hack it to put Linux in it" and so on...)

      It'd be nifty to have some good sources for very inexpensive new low-power general-purpose computer hardware. I know I'm not the only perso

  • DRM support and control could be _the_ distinctive element between MOBO manufacturers. Most support and performance is similar enough that for good or bad Security/Corporate controls might be the biggest difference between mobo's.

    Even radical differences like processor type and mobo size matter less to me than having my own control over my own computer.

    ls
  • EPIA mini-ITX boards (Score:5, Informative)

    by anakog (448790) <anakog@yahoo.com> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:54PM (#9271398) Journal
    These are great. My home server is running on a fanless EPIA 5000 [viavpsd.com] and I have never been happier about my choice. The whole machine cost me $300 (case, mobo, 256MB RAM, 120GB, extra NIC) over a year ago and has been sitting quietly under the table in my living room ever since.

    It is extremely quiet (only audible humming comes from two small fans on the case) which is important to me. It is also very low on energy consumption. I got an APC Back-UPS ES-350 [apc.com] (just a couple of days before the big black-out here, in North-East USA --- could not have been wiser :) The UPS is rated at 8 minutes under 100W load and 2 minutes under 200W but it lasts over 40 minutes powering my server and my DSL modem.

    Another thing I am really happy about is the fact that VIA seems to be doing a good job supporting Linux. Personally, I have never had trouble running Red Hat on mine (although, I hear FC2 had issues with it that were only recently fixed --- but that was FC2's problem).

    Overall, I feel that this has been a really great product and would wholeheartedly recommend it. I am also very happy to see that VIA has been constantly improving them. I am looking forward to seeing the upcoming nano-ITX boards.

  • by jasno (124830)

    The chip includes a "Chromotion Video Display Engine" with advanced video rendering functions such as "Video De-blocking" and "Adaptive De-interlacing," which add to the user's "Hi-Def visual experience," according to VIA. The board supports displays including all HDTV formats, and NTSC or PAL TVs.

    This sounds interesting. Possibly handling the motion vectors and a deblocking filter in hardware. I wonder if this is the extent of the 'MPEG-4' support, or if that refers to a separate MPEG-4 hardware decdo

    • Yeah, somehow I don't see this puny 1.3ghz processor playing any of my 1080i .TS files anytime soon... My 2.6 has no problem at all, but my old 1.7 chokes on them.
      Having used the 933mhz C3 VIA and seeing it drop frames on anything bigger than 320x240 Xvid, I have my doubts about this HDTV claim...
      Also, I don't see a DVI or CV output on this thing, so am I to assume they want us to buy the seriously flawed ATI HDTV adapter for HDTV output?
  • Via was started in California, then moved to Taiwan, the notebook computer business HQ. Why hasn't any American (or Japanese, or German...) company threatened the Taiwanese lock on design leadership? Taiwan's economics might offer a longterm manufacturing edge in this industry, but what kind of competitive advantage do Taiwanese companies have in the innovation?
    • Much cheaper labor.
    • Duh...companies like Intel, compaq, and others are the ones that BUILT that infrastructure!


      Via is an anomoly...they were cute when the big boy needed cheap chipsets to stick-it-to each other, but the took the profits and bought up the IP of the big guys loosers...now they are a serious theat in low-cost computing. Intel would love to stop them, but Via has bought enough of Intel's "victims" that intel had cross-licenses with that Via has some free-reign to do what they want!!!

    • but what kind of competitive advantage do Taiwanese companies have in the innovation?

      An education system that works?

  • Mini boards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LesPaul75 (571752) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @05:30PM (#9271724) Journal
    As much as I dislike Via, I gotta admit that these mini boards are a home run -- the best thing to happen to PCs in a long time. I'm looking forward to Intel and/or AMD jumping on the bandwagon. And soon after that I hope to see even smaller stuff becoming popular, possibly even system-on-chip designs. How sweet would that be? Yeah, I know you can buy a single-chip system now, but I want one that's just (or almost) as powerful as my home PC. Integrated graphics, gigs of RAM, all running at several GHz. Forget laptops... put the whole thing in a PDA. :)
  • Low Power PCs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tacocat (527354) <tallison1@NOspam.twmi.rr.com> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @06:16PM (#9272078)

    I have two of the EPIA 533 fanless machines. One is my mail/web server for the internet, the other is my NFS/web server for my home use. These things are awesome at only a measured 32W power consumption with everything running (hard drive included). This 32W is using old 3.5 inch hard drives and a case fan. I expect to have done better if I went with the 2.5 inch lower power hard drives and external power supply.

    But what I find really amazing about all of this is that I got these little low power boxes and they are doing as much as many people dedicate on a 140W+ machine. There's really no need for that. If you find 533MHz too slow, then move up to a higher machine. But I was going for the silent/fanless models.

    I can't claim to have the fastest set up in the world, but for 99.9% of you with a home mail/web server, you really don't need to run it on that big of a box. And for 32W of power, it makes for a cool summer.

    In time, I think people will realize that the benefit of having a 3.2GHz mail server isn't that great. Sure, there might be exceptions and I might not survive a slashdot effect, but not many of us will.

  • Mini-ITX is nice, but I think VIA needs to come out with something that can compete with other Mini-ITX vendors using Pentium4, Pentium-M or Athlon.
    • I'm pretty sure that VIA is the *only* mini-itx vendor. Other motherboard manufacturers build smaller-than-ATX forms (micro-atx, flex-atx), I don't think anyone has built a Pentium or Athlon board in the same size.
    • Mini-ITX is nice, but I think VIA needs to come out with something that can compete with other Mini-ITX vendors using Pentium4, Pentium-M or Athlon.

      First of all, VIA pretty much came up with the Mini-ITX idea, so it's the others that compete against VIA. The idea hinges on low power and ideally passive cooling; therefore putting a P4 or Athlon on such a mobo would be a dumb idea.

      I remember seeing one review of a P4 Mini-ITX board, and it had a number of problems because the CPU and cooling system took u

  • Is that decode only or encode/decode? I mean, is this Tivo/encoding farm material, or just another mildly interesting but ultimately impractical fad gadget?

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