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Hardware Technology

New Nano-ITX 12cm Motherboards 439

Kris_J writes "mini-itx.com have exclusive pictures of VIA's new 12cm x 12cm motherboard standard they're terming 'Nano-ITX'. VIA have removed the legacy ports, moved to mini-PCI and SODIMMs and now a new batch of custom PC projects can be produced where previously there wasn't quite enough room for the motherboard. I already have an idea..."
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New Nano-ITX 12cm Motherboards

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  • by Bame Flait ( 672982 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @10:54AM (#7054751)
    VIA have removed the legacy ports, moved to mini-PCI and SODIMMs

    Good thing Sodimmy is no longer illegal.
  • by zedmelon ( 583487 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @10:56AM (#7054764) Homepage Journal

    The idea is pretty interesting. I can only hope that it turns out better than this article suggests.

    The pics are arranged in a three by three grid, but don't bother. Pics one and two are decent, three is okay, and nine is passable, but the rest are so blurry that once you've heard the board is 120 mm square, they're nothing you can't get from just viewing the thumbnails.


  • Ah-ha! (Score:5, Funny)

    by tds67 ( 670584 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @10:56AM (#7054768)
    VIA have removed the legacy ports, moved to mini-PCI and SODIMMs...

    So that's where Sodimm Hussein has been hiding! It's now the mother of all boards!

  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday September 25, 2003 @10:56AM (#7054769) Homepage Journal

    VIA have removed the legacy ports

    I wish these companies would leave just a single RS-232 or RS-422 port. Sometimes you need a simple serial connection to connect through if the network is down. The lack of serial also limits the use for these boards for controlling other pieces of hardware if embedding is your thing.

    Maybe an online petition to bring back the RS-232 is in order :)
    • by a_ghostwheel ( 699776 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @10:57AM (#7054784)
      That is why you have mini-PCI there - just install appropriate card.
    • Just get a USB->RS232 cable.
      • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:00AM (#7054808) Homepage Journal

        Just get a USB->RS232 cable.

        That's another layer of complexity. It may work fine for Rube Goldberg but the less things to break, the better.
        • Um. It's RS232 for christ's sake. How difficult do you think it is for the USB -> RS232 port to work? The cables I've used have the entire circuit (including chips etc) inside the plug.

          It's damn cool if you ask me. No need to ugly, space hogging RS232 ports on my M/B. If I ever need RS232 I know I can just plug a cable into one of my USB ports.
    • I agree, expecially on the embedded side. Also, a USB to RS232 adapter would not work because 90% of the time you need more than just transmit and receive. The control lines for serial are just as important if not more so. Perhaps just a header (just nine pins) not the full blown connector would work. Oh well, on the PC side RS232 has pretty much gone the way of the dinosaurs. I suspect in another decade the embedded world will have done so as well.

    • by capsteve ( 4595 ) * on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:09AM (#7054877) Homepage Journal
      use a keyspan usb-to-serial adapter.
      that's what mac users have been doing for years...
    • Maybe another solution would be to remove the RS-232 port as is and replace it with a waffer style connector. The idea being that the functionality would be there, but not the bulk. If done right, all you would need are some contacts on the mother board and a plastiv covering to hold the connector in place. It should also be cheaper to manufacture.
    • by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:21AM (#7054989) Homepage
      Maybe an online petition to bring back the RS-232 is in order :)

      I know this was tongue in cheek, but please... RS-232 hasn't disappeared in any way, shape, or form. Virtually every PC motherboard out there still has at least one (and usually two) serial ports. About the only ones that don't are the Abit MAX series (which has removed all legacy ports), this one, and some miniITX form factor boards.

      If you need a real serial port, then just avoid buying one of the 1% of boards that doesn't have one.

      Every time a story is posted to /. about a board that doesn't have serial the RS-232 freaks crawl out of the woodwork. If you're smart enough to know all the uses for RS-232, then you should damn well be smart enough to buy the right board.

      Oh, and I like serial too... my remote control is programmed via it (although it works fine w/ a USB->serial dongle if needed).
    • If you want a board with a serial port buy one; the majority of boards sold now seem have them. Some people do not want serial ports on their mainboards and for a long time it has been hard to find boards without serial connectors.

      I was very satisfied to find my Intel DME810? non-legacy board. It's small form factor is in part due to the lack of legacy connectors that I have no use for (for that machine at least).

      I see no reason to argue that every mainboard needs an RS-232 port, especially considering m
    • Maybe an online petition to bring back the RS-232 is in order :)

      Yes, and the same goes for the 1.44Mb floppy drive. Dell is trying to obsolete it, and Ford Motor Company went along with it and bought PCs from Dell without floppy drives.

      Why do PC and PC part manufacturers keep pushing for changes that should in fact be demand (or lack thereof) driven?

    • by Merlin42 ( 148225 ) * on Thursday September 25, 2003 @12:02PM (#7055418)
      Look at the pics at:
      http://epia-center.de/modules.php?name=News&file=a rticle&sid=202 [epia-center.de]
      In particular the first pics shows two connectors next to the vertically mounted battery. They don't seem to be mentioned in any of the specs so I am going to guess they are for connecting an RS-232 or possibly also a parallel port.
  • Wonderful! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doesn't_Comment_Code ( 692510 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @10:58AM (#7054788)
    I can't say how many times I've wanted to make a small, embedded controller system, but couldn't do it. Most projects need the ability of pc, but can't handle the space requirements for a desktop sized box. These little babies aught to make my life much more fun, and possibly fully automated.
    • Oh yes, one more thing I forgot to write...

      I wonder what kind of power supplies they will release to drive these. I assume a standard power supply will work... but it seems wrong. The power would take up more space the entire workings of the computer. Anyway, for my embedded projects, I really hope they follow with some tiny power supplies.
      • Re:Wonderful! (Score:3, Informative)

        by Trigun ( 685027 )
        There are solid state external power supplies, (usually 55 watt) for sale, and many low-profile cases ship with these as well. You can even buy ones that will run off of a car cigarette lighter. It's only 5 and 12 volts to run everything you need.
        • Speaking of that, my browser pulled up a banner for just such a beast when I was checking out the mini-itx site. Apparently a company called i-tuner sells little power supply daughter boards from 40 to 100 watts. Looks like the way to go if space is that precious, but they're a bit pricey starting at around fifty bucks. Cool for the car though, and they sell little car adapters as well.
          Maybe the battery-less DIY notebook isn't so far off after all.
    • Try one of this guy's [soekris.com] boards.
      • Those are pretty reasonably priced. A bit high for a motherboard, but novelty and hard-to-come-by items are always expensive. I wonder if we can expect similar prices for the Nano-ITX.
  • by adeyadey ( 678765 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @10:59AM (#7054797) Journal
    Genuine cheap DIY clone portables/laptops with interchangable parts - if a component fails, you dont have pay the earth to replace it? Anyone have good links/experience on that? :-)
    • Why was the above post modded down?
    • Offtopic? Hardly. Having general pupose motherboards in this form factor makes them ideal for dropping into a laptop size case. It was exactly what I thought of when I saw this article.

      It would be awesome to have a laptop that's as cheaply and readily upgradeable as a desktop PC. It would be awesome if I could drop in a new video card or processor into my laptop.
      • My sentiments too. Ok, maybe a DIY clone portable isnt going to be quite as sleek as the best laptops, but wow, just imagine a genuine portable you can mod cheaply! The key maybe a shell that can take a nano-itx - or something like it. The shell provides the keyboard, LCD, and places/slots/holes for all the other bits.. Even if its a bit bigger than most portables, thats cool - particularly if that means room inside for all the bits you othewrwise have dangling off bits of wire with a normal laptop. Has thi
    • This isn't offtopic you dopes.

      These things, afaik, can run on DC power - so running off batteries shouldn't be out of the question. They'll certainly fit in a laptop sized case. SODIMMS, laptop HDDs, half-height CDroms and stuff can be had.

      As I see it, what keeps the DIY laptop scene from existing is the LCD video interface - there's just no real standard way to do it. Won't someone start mass producing laptop shells, complete with LCDs, inverters, and interface board?

      I wonder what the Dells of the wo
  • I think the RS232 is still present : the link is so slow it just has to be over pppd.
  • by bazik ( 672335 )
    Great news!

    Gonna wait then for building my multimedia PC until this gets on the market.

    12x12cm is awesome... maybe I buy a 2nd one to build it into the glove box of my car :)

    Anyone got an expected price for this thing?
  • Drive bay mounting? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:01AM (#7054813) Homepage
    12 by 12 centimeters (120 millimeters) is the same size as a CD... I wonder if one could squeeze one of these machines into one or two drivebays... I could definetly use a nice little dev box inside my regular box!
    • 12 by 12 centimeters (120 millimeters) is the same size as a CD... I wonder if one could squeeze one of these machines into one or two drivebays

      File the corners and punch a hole in the middle : you won't even have to replace the original CDROM drive to fit in inside your PC.
    • by DragonWyatt ( 62035 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:06AM (#7054860) Homepage
      here ya go:

      TerraSoft's briQ [terrasoftsolutions.com]

      Been around for a long time, based on powerpc (350 or 800mhz G3, or 500mhz G4), 168pin DIMMs, VFD display included, and runs linux to boot!
    • The BriQ [terrasoftsolutions.com] fits into a drive bay, and supports an internal 2.5 drive. It has 'legacy' connectors too, but it is a PPC, not x86.
  • Woohoo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by CausticWindow ( 632215 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:03AM (#7054828)

    Now I can make that ammo canister pc come true. I could even make Linux run on my MP5!.

    Or what about using a US marines trooper helmet as a webserver! Or maybe I can equip a clip with a fileserver.

    W00t. My Death/Linux dreams have finally come true.

    • Makes for the more realistic counterstrike...not only are you running around with an MP5, but your running on one as well. Perhaps you could add some gyro mouse to your mp5 so you use it to aim as well :)
    • If US marines trooper helmets are webservers...or networked at all...I say we backdoor these!

      Think of all the xdcc bots we could have!

      Or how big our DDOS net would be!

      And really...how will the American government prosecute the marines!
  • Woohoo! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Flabby Boohoo ( 606425 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:04AM (#7054846) Journal
    Roll your own notebooks!
    • Re:Woohoo! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LookSharp ( 3864 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:13AM (#7054903)
      Roll your own notebooks!

      Where is the power circuitry? To run from/charge a battery?

      The controller to run a native LCD?

      Be sure to include some room for converters to step down the big IDE down to notebook harddrives and optical drives.

      Oh and that "1 GHz C3?" It has roughly the computational power of a Celeron 600.

      Feel free to invest $1200 in making one of these into a notebook with an LCD, but I'd just assume spend $1000 on a Dell 2GHz and plenty more expansion and connectivity options.
  • Put this in a generic plastic lunchbox, replace the front with a smallish (say 10") LCD, room in there for a laptop hard drive and a CD/DVD... Pc on the go. Only "big" part is the mouse and the keyboard, and those aren't that big anymore.

    • Forget a generic plastic lunchbox, put this thing in a Superman or Batman lunchbox like we took to school as kids and THAT would be cool. Maybe still be room in there for a PB/J and a twinkie too.

      Bluetooth the mouse and a tiny keyboard, cut a hole for the 8" LCD on the back side and you would be all set.
  • more info (Score:4, Informative)

    by klocwerk ( 48514 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:06AM (#7054858) Homepage
    Mini-itx was 17x17 centimeters, this is 12x12, so 5cm (or about 2 inches) smaller than a mini-itx.

    The RAM slot looks like it takes laptop ram, not stadard desktop DIMMs.
    The cpu is a 1Ghz C3 processor, hardwired in (no upgrading that once purchased).
    3 sound jacks, ethernet (mini-itx vias are 10/100, i assume this is), 2 USB, video out, PS2 keyboard jack, and a TV output. mouse would have to be via USB.

    I love my mini-itx server, which is completely silent running, this thing is even tinier, but with a 1ghz cpu i'll be interested to see if they can make a fanless model. the 1ghz mini-itx boards don't passively cool without gluing on a Zalman flower heatsink.

    • What I find amazing is that the figgin' thing is so small that they had to mount the BIOS Battery *VERTICALLY*!

    • Re:more info (Score:4, Informative)

      by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:12AM (#7054899) Homepage Journal

      Mini-itx was 17x17 centimeters, this is 12x12, so 5cm (or about 2 inches) smaller than a mini-itx.

      You're looking at it wrong: Mini-ITX 17^2 = 289 cm^2, this board 12^2 = 144 cm^2. It's just less than half the size, quite a feat.
    • by bazik ( 672335 ) <bazik&gentoo,org> on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:13AM (#7054900) Homepage Journal

      According to this [epia-center.de] page, the shown Nano-ITX board got the following details:

      - VIA CN400 Chipsatz (FSB 200 Support)
      - 1 GHz VIA C3
      - VIA VT8237 Southbridge (support for S-ATA)
      - Mini-PCI on the back (maybe for WLAN)
      - 1x SODIMM RAM Slot
      - 1x S-ATA (one Channel)
      - 2x IDE (ATA 133)
      - TV-Out
      - 6-Channel Sound
      - DOC (disk-on-chip)
      - Size: 12x12 cm
      - CPU-Size: 15x15 mm

      • Now if only they would anounce pricing, we would have all the specs that matter. Oh, and they really need to sneak a 1394 PHY into the chipset. Personally I'd be happy with a machine with no SATA and with 1394 onboard. Adding 1394 is likely to be expensive what with the only suitable expansion being minipci. Maybe when PCI-Express rolls out they'll make a board with a 1X connector.
      • Wow ... they need to nano-bga the chipset as well and there'll be plenty of space to incorporate all the features of the southbridge (the same that is appearing on the latest A64 and A64FX VIA motherboards).

        Stick an optical output on there as well and I'll be a happy bunny.

        I like how the Mini-PCI is mounted underneath the board.

        All we need now are 1.8" Hard Drives with SATA interfaces! And Nano-ITX cases with suitable power supplies.
      • why the hell go to all the trouble to make this small and not go all the way to SATA only, or at least laptop formfactor IDE?

        the 10 cm^2 wasted on IDE connectors could be cut to 2 w/SATA or 6 w/ laptopIDE

        after all, wouldn't you want to put this in a box w/a laprop HD and slimline CD to create a box the size of a stack of 4 jewelcases?

        btw, where's the power in? I couldn't spot any power supply connectors...

    • Is that a CF slot I see on the back?

      This board is so simple! Amazing how much green space there is on the top without any components.

      Is that little blue 7-pin connector for power?
      • The slot on the back looks like RAM to me.

        I have no idea what the blue 7-pin connector is -- I've never seen that connector before.

        There's what looks like a normal 4-pin power connector (4-pins, keyed, white plastic) towards the middle of the board from the battery.

        And you're right -- it is amazing how clean this board is. They make it looks like they could easily compress it another 1-2 cm!
    • "The RAM slot looks like it takes laptop ram, not stadard desktop DIMMs."

      Yes, that's what a SODIMM is, as shown in what the slashdot 'story' said "moved to mini-PCI and SODIMMs"
    • How oftain do you upgrade processor and not the mother board? An old processor without a mother board is useless. A new processor without a new motherboard can really hold it back, unless its a really small and probably useless speed bump.

    • Re:more info (Score:3, Informative)

      by FlexAgain ( 26958 )
      ...<snip>...), 2 USB, video out, PS2 keyboard jack, and a TV output. mouse would have to be via USB.

      Actually, it looks like the connector that you think is a PS2 keyboard port is actually an S-Video connector (vs composite video from the Phono above).

      So, you'ld probably need a USB Keyboard as well.
  • Mirror here! (Score:5, Informative)

    by bazik ( 672335 ) <bazik&gentoo,org> on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:06AM (#7054863) Homepage Journal
    Mirror! [epia-center.de]
  • Better pictures here (Score:5, Informative)

    by EriktheGreen ( 660160 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:12AM (#7054896) Journal
    Better pics of a nano-itx board from VIA [epiacenter.com]

    Google - it's not just for breakfast any more.


  • Too bad this wasn't done by a manufacturer that makes quality products, or this might actually be useful.
    • Re:VIA eh (Score:2, Funny)

      by Tisephone ( 709174 )
      Yeah! Everyone knows a CPU's quality is directly proportional to the amount of heat it dissipates. And you can't even soft-boil an egg on a C3, let alone fry one... what a piece of junk.

      Can't wait for the Prescott!
  • Dang it... (Score:4, Informative)

    by QwkHyenA ( 207573 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:15AM (#7054923) Homepage
    mini-PCI and SODIMMs would be sweet! Had I only known I'da waited. Instead I bought from Axion Tech [axiontech.com] the CL series VIA EPIA Mini-itx mobo. This little jewel has dual LANs & 4 serials! Read it! FOUR serials!

    That's room for console access, small serial LCD & serial GPS unit. Hmmm..That's one extra serial slot! w00T. BTW, Axion is cheaper than Idot [idot.com].

  • Where can I get a minipci card with LCD control? I'm going to want to use a TFT display with this and I don't want an analog stage between display card and flat panel. Advantech offers socket 370 systems with LCD control in a similar size (longer in one direction) but they cost way way WAY too much. I expect this to be considerably more affordable, in the realm of mini-itx, though with memory costing more since it's on SODIMM.
  • I would, instead, say that RS232 ports have stood the Test of Time, and continue to do so. Personally, I would never buy ANY motherboard or PC that did not include at least two basic serial ports (either 232 or 422, I don't care which).

    The (bad) assumption that VIA is making, of course, is that everyone will be using an OS that supports USB, and that if people need serial ports they'll use a USB-to-RS232 converter. However, the only OS's I know of that support USB to a degree that it's usable are Windows 2
  • by jargoone ( 166102 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:22AM (#7055001)
    I got a connection refused when trying to connect. Here's an ASCII-art mirror of the motherboard:


    Man, that's small!
    • by bluGill ( 862 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @12:18PM (#7055560)

      Nice ascii art, but the font size is wrong leading me to get a wrong impression of the size. However it is easy to convert. There are by definition 2.54 cm to an inch, so the 12cm board = 4.72 inches - lets round that to the nearest quarter = 4.75. By definition there are 72 point to the inch, so you need to adjust your browser to a 342 point font. Note that I'm assume that your monitor properly scales fonts to actual size, odds are it does not (generally only macs try, and not all of them get it right), but that is implimentation specific.

      I rounded the inches measurement up a little because in most fonts [] does not take up all the pixels it could, and thus isn't exact size. I'm hoping this adjustment brings us to a better average. (likely width still a little small, hight a little big)

  • What does this thing use for power? I'm assuming the one blue connector is the power hookup, but what does one hookup to it?

    Translation: how do I put one of these in my car and get juice to it?
  • I really would like do use one of these but how does one power it? It would seem insane to hook a standard atx powersupply up to one of these mini pcs...
  • by Cheetahfeathers ( 93473 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:52AM (#7055291)
    They haven't removed the worst offender of the old legacy PC, however. The BIOS is still there. PCs need to ditch BIOS and go with something decent like openboot. Also, console on an out of band management line needs to be stardand, so you can administer things remotely or when the network is down.

    It doesn't need to be legacy serial, though that's what everything else uses. Put it on USB for all I care. Just make sure I can get to the system outside the network, and boot/reset/configure it from there.
  • Ask Slashdot: cases? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TClevenger ( 252206 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @12:02PM (#7055409)
    Interested in making a set-top box for the living room using a Mini-ITX board. I've done some searching, but most of the cases are rather, well, PCish. What's your favorite ITX enclosure? Looking for quiet (or no) fan, something not so PC-looking, external power supply fine.


    • Is this for PVR and/or DivX/XviD playback?

      If so, I recommend an Asus Pundit [newegg.com] small form-factor system. Mine has a nice TV tuner ($50), and a Celeron 2.0GHz which ran me all of $67. It has a very nice case, runs quiet, sits well with your entertainment center, and is about three times the CPU power of the C3 1GHz. The way I look at it, this barebones plus a $70 processor is still less expensive than a $100 Mini-ITX case with a $179 1GHz EPIA board. The form factor on the Asus is proprietary, but exceptio
  • by CommieLib ( 468883 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @12:27PM (#7055664) Homepage
    I think that what this kind of stuff is leading to is a lot of really clever things being done with portables. The AutoPC failed, for example, but unleash thousands of hackers who will try a thousand different ways of making it useful for themselves, and something useful will come out of it. Maybe even a business model.

    With something this small, I'd be tempted to wire together thermometers, maybe a cheapo sonograph (is there such a thing?), and whatever else I could fit into a small box and build My Very First Tricorder.
  • by FrostedWheat ( 172733 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @12:29PM (#7055686)
    You might loose your computer down the back of the sofa!

  • The BEST line from the article:

    "Click on a picture to enlarge it - probably beyond life size..."

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.