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Via Now Shipping Dual-Processor Mini-ITX Board 304

An anonymous reader writes "Via is now shipping its first dual-processor mini-ITX board. The DP-310 features two 1GHz processors, gigabit Ethernet, support for SATA drives, and a media-processing graphics chipset. It targets high-density applications -- according to Via, a 42-U rack with 168 processors would draw about 2.5 kilowatts, or about as much power as two hair dryers." This also looks like the basis for a nice car computer. Also on the small-computing front, an anonymous reader submits "General Micro, meanwhile, last week released what it calls the world's fastest mini-ITX board, powered by a Pentium M clocked up to 2.3GHz. "
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Via Now Shipping Dual-Processor Mini-ITX Board

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  • Car computer? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by temojen ( 678985 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:23PM (#11913816) Journal
    Sounds like an excellent-performing midrange desktop replacement to me. Only trick would be marketing it to consumers & businesses who've been indoctrinated in the MHz cult. Two CPUs should give excellent responsiveness.
    • Not quite...

      Benchmark review of a single 933 Via processor [overclockers.com.au]

      Granted, this is the C3, which is slightly inferior to the Eden-N being used here. Can you see the second processor in the arithmetic benchmarks, the one running about equally? That's a 333mhz PII. Even being generous and saying this newer series chip has significantly sped up, we're still talking performance equal to maybe a dual 500 Mhz PIII.

      Useable? Yes. Acceptable for generic web browsing and word processing? Maybe. An excellent-
      • by aoteoroa ( 596031 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:58PM (#11914162)

        Useable? Yes. Acceptable for generic web browsing and word processing? Maybe. An excellent-performing midrange desktop replacement? No way.

        The benchmark [overclockers.com.au] you linked said the single processor handled dvd playback flawlessly, and played divx movies "perfectly with no slowdowns or stutters"

        Their conclusion:
        "VIA has definitely listened to the users of the EPIA on this one. They've fixed up all of the major problems that stopped the EPIA becoming a perfect TV-Run machine. Anyone who is looking to set up a dedicated TV-Run machine should look no further than the VIA EPIA-M - its high quality DVD and DivX playback make it a perfect choice!"

        That sounds fast enough to replace many home desktops

        • by technomancerX ( 86975 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @05:12PM (#11914291) Homepage
          The benchmark you linked said the single processor handled dvd playback flawlessly, and played divx movies "perfectly with no slowdowns or stutters"

          You're overlooking the bit that the chipset has mpeg hardware acceleration. How fast it decoded dvds has nothing to do with the overall system performance. These boxes are generally SLOW. They have hardware acceleration that does in fact make them cool for DVR applications, but that has nothing to do with using it as a desktop system.

        • It handles video playback because it has a dedicated processor that heavily assists MPEG-2/4 decoding. What about simple image or video editing (yes, Joe User is actually interested in preserving his memories). What about heavy multitasking? Hell, what about the occasional 2 year-old game? Remember, we're talking here about non-video performance approximately equal to dual 500Mhz PIIIs. Yes, it's probably useable, but you can buy a lot more powerful kit for what this will probably sell for.

          Yeah, it'd
        • The 35MHz ARM processor in my DVD player is pretty good at DVD playback too but that does not make it a desktop replacement. The benchmark [overclockers.com.au] also showed that the 1Ghz Via processor has a 38% slower CPU Integer performance than a 450MHz AMD K6-III. A 1 GHz via runs like a 333MHz AMD or Intel proc.
        • by Anonymous Slacker ( 607727 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @06:35PM (#11915147)
          I have been using an Epia M10000 board (single Nehemiah processor, previous generation chipset -- mpeg-2 hardware assist) as a PVR/multimedia computer with WinXP Pro for the past year and a half, and it is MORE than adequate.
          512MB PC2100 DDR ram, 120+160GB IDE hard drives, Hauppage PVR250 tv-tuner PCI card, 90W power supply (used to be a 60W until I added the 2nd hard drive).
          For a system that can handle recording, pausing live TV, video editing, DVD burning, and yes, even WEB BROWSING, text editing, minor picture manipulation and instant messaging, I highly prefer my little shoebox sized system to some power-hungry behemoth that sounds like 747 at takeoff.
          I don't use Photoshop or modern 3D gaming on it, because I wouldn't use those period. I normally use the free utilities that come with WinXP and Pinnacle Studio that came with my DVD burner for video editing, because they are all I need. If I really want to screw around with something, I'll usually try running it first on my 450MHz K6-2+ WinME box (which, for reference, IS much slower than my mini-itx system) so I won't risk messing up my properly functional PVR setup.

          If someone can build an equivalent system using modern Intel/AMD processors that requires only 2 small fans (40mm on the processor, 60mm case fan), and can operate flawlessly off of a 90W power supply, I'd like to see it (and hear it).

          Mini-ITX, at least Via's approach, is not about cramming the most powerful components into a new motherboard form factor. It's about creating a platform that has enough capabilities and utilizes the smallest amount of resources (power, space) to get it done.
          For those of us who keep our systems on 24/7 in our bedrooms, low power/noise are a critical factor in deciding our computing platform. I'm thankful to Via for pushing along in the low power/density arena.
          • "For those of us who keep our systems on 24/7 in our bedrooms, low power/noise are a critical factor in deciding our computing platform."

            Noise I agree with, but power? What do I care if the system in my bedroom corner is sucking down 200w or 90w? Not like that's $50 more a month, or even $10 for that matter. You're talking a couple bucks at most.

            Check out the electricity calculator [cactus2000.de]. Enter the watts and your kw/hr and it'll tell u you how you're spending.

            At 8 cents a kWh this is what I got:
            200w =

      • Re:Car computer? (Score:4, Informative)

        by DataPath ( 1111 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @05:19PM (#11914377)
        The is the second mini-itx board that VIA has released based on the CN400 chipset. This chipset is supposed to have SIGNIFICANTLY improved performance, largely stemming from greatly improved memory bandwidth.
    • midrange desktop replacement? uh, no. the via is a *really* slow cpu. two of them wont help responsiveness that much. last time i tested an eden cpu, it performed roughly the same as a p2 at half the mhz. (eg 800mhz eden performed roughly the same as a p2/400).

      the via cpu target is set-top boxes and embedded applications. it makes a poor desktop cpu, where your data processing requirements are considerably higher than a PVR or car stereo system.

      even via knows better, they aren't targeting the desktop with
    • If you can type at 100 cps with a single Pentium 4 processor, just think how fast you'll be able to type with dual processors!
  • by Meostro ( 788797 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:23PM (#11913819) Homepage Journal
    a 42-U rack with 168 processors would draw about 2.5 kilowatts, or about as much power as two hair dryers." This also looks like the basis for a nice car computer.

    I know this is News for Nerds and all, but isn't that a bit excessive? I don't think my car needs 168 1GHz processors. (or is that 336 processors?) What's it going to do with that much power?
  • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:25PM (#11913841)
    How good are these? I remember reading a lot of lovely things about S3 DeltaChrome series (owned by VIA), but never got to see a videocard sporting that chip.
  • by ozziegt ( 865751 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:25PM (#11913844)
    If you want to see what cool stuff people are doing with mini-ITX, check out http://www.mini-itx.com/ [mini-itx.com]. Mini-ITX is a form factor where the board is 6.7"x6.7"
    • I had the previous single processor VIA mini ITX boad as a car computer running media engine in my company car. (Ford Escape) It was very cool. I pulled the radio and put a 7" Lillput widescreen touchscreen monitor where the radio used to sit.

      I ran 2-MTX amps to the door speakers with a 12" Sub in the back. I had a USB hub that ran the Wifi bridge to sync things up when I pulled into the garage. I also had the Audigy USB processor, and USB GPS receiver. I had 13,000 MP3's at my fingertips, music videos (a
  • by TechnoPops ( 590791 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:26PM (#11913846) Journal
    This also looks like the basis for a nice car computer.

    Why would you need a car computer with dual processors?
    • by op12 ( 830015 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:50PM (#11914072) Homepage
      You need one processor to run a moving LED strip on the front of the car, and the other one to talk to you.

      "Hello, Michael."
    • by grylnsmn ( 460178 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:50PM (#11914074)
      Something like this could be useful for where I work.

      We do railroad track geometry testing, and use a modified pickup truck to carry our equipment. A dual processor system would be better for us than our current setup. It would allow us to use one machine for data collection (especially the interrupt handling) and realtime analysis of the data. Additionally, the smaller form factor would allow us to have a lot more room in the back seat of our truck.

      2 1GHz processors would be more than enough for our needs. We only have a 800MHz PIII right now.
      • keep in mind each eden 1ghz processor is roughly equivalent to a 500mhz p2 (or 500mhz k6, if you arent familiar with p2's).

        your 800mhz p3 would grind the dual 1ghz eden to dust.
        • Except, that the processing required isn't all that much (we only have to analyze around 25 feet per second). What kills us are the bottlenecks with interrupt handling. That is the area where dual processors would come in handy.

          Right now, we use a rack-mount system, but that takes up a lot of space in the back seat (half of the back), and can be difficult to remove for maintenance or to temporarily mount on our clients' trains. A mini-ITX form factor could greatly reduce the space that it takes, allowin
          • how about a shuttle SFF with a p4 cpu. hyperthread cpu if you really care.

            that will demolish the dual eden in every conceivable way, including interrupt handling. and if you're worried about power consumption, use a pentium-m. it will still demolish the via performance wise and interrupt wise and use almost no power to boot.

            SFF will also reduce the space taken to almost nothing.
    • To drive the car silly.
    • A car computer (other than the one that runs the car) isn't a need in the first place. As long as you're having the luxury (for fun, to impress geeks, bore women, whatever) you might as well get a dual processor.
  • Thats all well and good for a potential car computer, but can it keep me from getting pulled over?
  • Heat sinks (Score:2, Informative)

    It should be noted that the photos do not show the heat sinks that in fact are intalled on the board.

    • More importantly from the photo's there is no provision for mounting a heatsink on the second CPU - I think the board may be a notional layout and does not really exist yet... The CPU support components (bypass caps, crystals etc.. are also not present or evident in the photo)
  • by selectspec ( 74651 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:27PM (#11913860)
    You'd think that just SATA would be plenty (maybe SAS for leading edge). Why would want to go to small form factor and use parallel ATA drives?
  • They want how much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:29PM (#11913883)
    $1800 each for the P620. $850 each for "OEM" quantities. Too rich for my blood.
  • Its finally nice to see a company moving the pc in the right directions-small, fast, and quiet. For 20 years the desktop computer has stayed about the same size...its 2005 for crying out loud! Lets get some innovation!
    • But i think they are leading the industry (in sales at least) of small desktop machines.
      • Speaking as someone who owns three Apples, leading the small desktop industry isn't too tough. Apple's the only big-name company producing a ready-built Mini-ITX sized desktop. Dell makes their 4x00 series of Inspirons, but they're not nearly as small as a mini-itx or Mac Mini. Alienware and similar game PC companies make SFF (shuttle-style) game computers, but they're physically larger and account for such a tiny slice of the market that we could effectively ignore those numbers. I've seen IBM and HP t
        • by UWC ( 664779 )
          The local CompUSA here has a couple of Shuttle-sized machines sitting right next to the Apple section of the store. I kind of glanced their way as I was waiting for the clerk to fetch my Mini back in January. Aside from hard drive speed and RAM amount (I still need to get a 512MB stick and a putty knife), I'm loving the Mini.

          My previous primary computer was a first-generation Alienware laptop that I'm still paying for. I assume I'll use it more once I clear out some space for it. It has an amazing screen.

    • "For 20 years the desktop computer has stayed about the same size"

      I can see 2 reasons right away:

      1. People feel more comfortable using things of a certain size.

      2. Computers have greatly increased in power.

      Also, perhaps desktops haven't gotten much smaller (though the computer on my desk right now would fit about 4 times in a standard AT case), but personal computers have gotten MUCH smaller.
      Consider a new cellphone. Smaller than a hand, yet more powerful than a standard 386 from 15 years ago.
    • shuttle [spacewalker.com] has been making small, fast, and quiet [shuttle.com] for some years now.

      the hard drive is the loudest thing in my shuttle SFF, and that's already a very quiet maxtor with FDB. you can't even hear the fan at all.
  • What? (Score:3, Funny)

    by mollyhackit ( 693979 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:32PM (#11913914)
    Don't they know they need to use giant noisy fans to make a proper pc. What is it with this passivley cooled 486 style mindset?
  • It's got a a media-processing graphics chipset? That should be a bit improvement on my current graphics chipset, which will do everything except media processing!

  • With one of those and one of these [gizmodo.com] my mini MythTV dreams will be complete...
  • by marmite ( 79819 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:40PM (#11913992) Homepage
    The article says that the northbride is a CN400, but the photos have a CLE266 northbridge on... What's up with that?

    • RTFA: "Note: the photos shown here depict a pre-production version of the DP-310 supplied by Via last fall. Via has not yet responded to requests for photos of the production version.

      There you have it.


    • it seems to be a pre-production board or maybe even fake images. The real thing also has 2 memory slots...

      http://www.viaembedded.com/product/epia_dp_spec. js p?motherboardId=321

      Go to VIA directly and you shall see...

  • Can't we let PS/2 ports die already? Four USB 2.0 ports on this thing, and Via still thought we needed PS/2 ports. I'd rather drop the PS/2 ports and get a FireWire port, or another USB 2.0 port. PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports are as much of a dead end as the MCA bus - it's time to let go.
  • Now shipping? Where? (Score:3, Informative)

    by palfrey ( 198640 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @04:54PM (#11914111) Homepage
    Given Via's history of announcing Mini/Nano-itx boards as "shipping now" and not shipping for anything up to a year or so (anyone actually seen commercial supplies of standard generic 1-processor Nano-ITX boards yet?), does anyone know if this is *actually* shipping? Mini-itx.com doesn't have it, neither does epiacenter.com or linitx.com. I'll believe "shipping now" when someone actually has it...
  • Dont forget (Score:3, Informative)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @05:03PM (#11914197) Journal
    a link to the actual product page [viaembedded.com]
  • by MrFenty ( 579353 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @05:04PM (#11914203)
    ...for measuring information, now it's measuring computing power by Ghz/hairdryer ?!


  • Er.. yeah... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lakeland ( 218447 ) <lakeland@acm.org> on Friday March 11, 2005 @05:06PM (#11914216) Homepage
    Because I really would rather have two underperforming CPUs in my computer instead of one fast one.

    I mean, dual proc is really nice for making a desktop system interactive since it drops latency to essentially zero, but you've got to have the speed there for when you need it too. The 1GHz via feels slower than a 1GHz intel CPU.

    Something that would be really cool, though probably technically hard to do, is to get a decent processor and run it with a VIA or similar as the second CPU. That way you can cut about $100 off the price of a SMP system while still getting the fast response times from dual CPU. I mean, the acronym calls it SMP right? So AMP must be possible. Right?
    • SMP and AMP (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WillerZ ( 814133 )
      AMP has been done, and (possibly) predates SMP.

      SMP is an O/S design choice, not a hardware thing. An SMP system is one in which all processors can be given all jobs. Assymetric MP systems are those on which this is not true: for instance Sun's first multiprocessor OS could run user code on all processors, but kernel code (including interrupt handlers) could only run on processor zero.

      It's harder to write an SMP kernel than an AMP kernel if you start with a uniprocessor kernel - you don't need to introdu
  • Wrong pictures? (Score:4, Informative)

    by threephaseboy ( 215589 ) on Friday March 11, 2005 @05:29PM (#11914503) Homepage
    Those pictures don't match what's on via's site:

    EPIA DP [viaembedded.com]

    Note the orientation of the processors, and the lack of PS2 ports on the (official?) pictures.
  • according to Via, a 42-U rack with 168 processors would draw about 2.5 kilowatts, or about as much power as two hair dryers. This also looks like the basis for a nice car computer.

    i knew american SUV's were getting overly large, but REALLY NOW.


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