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Via Debuts Mini-ITX 2.0 93

DeviceGuru writes "Via Technologies has launched the second generation of its signature mini-motherboard standard. Mini-ITX 2.0, an evolutionary update to the seven-year-old 170×170mm form-factor, introduces new and emerging buses and interfaces such as PCI Express, SATA, Gig-E, and HD A/V, while preserving backwards-compatibility with the original standard. Mini-ITX has been a popular form-factor for a range of space-constrained hobbyist and commercial applications."
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Via Debuts Mini-ITX 2.0

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  • Space-constrained? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ThePhilips ( 752041 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:18AM (#23871427) Homepage Journal

    Mini-ITX has been a popular form-factor for a range of space-constrained hobbyist and commercial applications.

    I have one at home not because I'm "space-constrained" - but because it really nice and small Linux server which does everything I nee from it.

    Thanks to fanless design, loudest part of the rig is hard drive. That, along with minimalistic power consumption, makes it very suitable for always-on system. I use it for back-ups and some performance-oriented development and it is just bliss.

    The only downside of buying Mini-ITX, is that it's very hard to find suitable components as well as good case. Selection isn't very wide and prices often bite.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bunratty ( 545641 )
      I've heard another downside to Mini-ITX is that the throughput of the gigabit Ethernet ports is not up to speed with the ports on full-size computers. Has the situation improved? Will it be better with Mini-ITX 2.0? That's the first thing I looked for in TFA and the "more information" link it provided, but all they say is it has a gig-E port.
      • by Dwedit ( 232252 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:43AM (#23871649) Homepage

        That has more to do with using crappy chipsets in the motherboard than the form factor itself.

        • I suppose if they used those crappy chipsets with Mini-ITX 1.0, they'll continue to use them with Mini-ITX 2.0. I wonder why they can't simply use a decent chipset? There are small form factor computers available for a few hundred dollars, as well as tiny laptops, that have decent gigabit ports. Certainly price, size, and power consumption are not a barrier. Oh, well, I'll wait for a decent Mini-ITX 2.0 board that uses good chipsets and comes with a warranty. Until then, small form factor will have to do.
          • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Friday June 20, 2008 @10:27AM (#23872939) Homepage

            The reason they use crappy chipsets is because they're cheaper than the good stuff, and Mini-ITX is primarily about money, secondly about size.

            I mostly stopped caring about Mini-ITX when I realized I could gut a low-end laptop for less money and better performance than Via's offerings. Their prices just aren't in line with my perception of value. There are also several alternatives on the market, most of them based on Intel mobile chipsets, like the Arcom Apollo.

            If I wanted something even smaller, there's the Gumstix/Netstix. This Mini-ITX 2.0 seems like a whole lotta nothing, too late to market, too costly to care.

            • by kv9 ( 697238 )

              The reason they use crappy chipsets is because they're cheaper than the good stuff, and Mini-ITX is primarily about money, secondly about size.
              the reason they use crappy chipsets is because they're VIA.
          • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @11:18AM (#23873647)
            There are mini-itx boards using intel and other non-via chipsets. You don't have to buy a via mini-itx board. MSI, Jetway, Intel, Commell and others make mini-itx boards and they are available several different cpu socket / chipset combinations, just like ATX boards are. There are limits of course, some things just dont's fit on a 7"x7" board, not to mention power and cooling requirements for some chips would be difficult to accomodate.
      • by Splab ( 574204 )

        What purpose could an mini-ITX have in your environment where a throughput above 10MB/s is needed?

        To stream DVD you need 8Mb/s, to stream Blue ray you need around 50Mb/s. If it acts as a high availability file server for multiple users you are doing it wrong anyways.

        Even if you only get 50% of a Gig-E you can (theoretically) sustain playback of 10 Blue ray movies, everything else will give up in the system long before the network is maxed out.

        • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Friday June 20, 2008 @10:37AM (#23873105) Homepage

          Actually, if the chipsets were any decent, people would build file servers around them. The biggest (*rimshot*) thing going for Mini-ITX is the low power consumption. If I could replace my two home servers with smaller machines that draw a third of the power, yet can adequately serve my media and backup needs, I would spend the money.

          The problem is Mini-ITX does everything poorly. Terrible performance, overpriced accessories, usually lots of modding work to get things fitted, and you have to pay a premium for the privilege of being mediocre.

        • by Firehed ( 942385 )

          I store all of my software installation discs as ISOs on my fileserver. A hard drive being tremendously faster than an optical drive (among the plenty of other conveniences) would be completely negated by a slow throughput. For movies it doesn't matter - it's a single file that doesn't need a tremendous amount of bandwidth. Game installation on the other hand is painfully slow if the connection sucks - even a Fast Ethernet connection is pretty tedious for that kind of thing. I get pretty annoyed speed-w

          • by Splab ( 574204 )

            Wouw... Just wouw...
            What kind of equipment do you have that can sustain those rates? Standard consumer grade hard disk drives can seldom sustain more than 60MB/s, my DVD drive does around 24MB/s - CDs are around 8MB/s - on a really good day(yes its above 20MB/s, but if 20 annoys you I'm assuming you are blasting away well above 100MB/s) . Also why are you reinstalling so often that less than 20MB/s is a problem?

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Firehed ( 942385 )

              I'm not going anywhere near saturating full gig-e, but 50-60MB/s (hard drive limited minus some network overhead) isn't unlikely. I'm not using a $20 bargin bin 5-port switch (I got a 16-port GigE D-link now), but even back when I was I still saw decent rates. I'll be interested to see if/how this changes tomorrow, as I just ordered 1.5TB of storage prompted by a Newegg special (it's been long overdue, even if it's overkill for the moment - I still have to micromanage the remaining space on my current dis

      • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @10:10AM (#23872699)

        older boards used pci for the gig-e ports newchips have gig-e as part of the chip set or are running it over pci-e.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Hard to find a suitable case?, hell I seen people throw these suckers in Pumpkins and Foster Mini-kegs.

    • by Collective 0-0009 ( 1294662 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:36AM (#23871581)

      it's very hard to find suitable components as well as good case.
      That is the great thing about ITX, all you need for a case is an old VCR, old Hummer RC car, or I even made a computer out of an old CRT monitor shell, and put an LCD in the front.... sort of an iPC.

      ITX is designed to think outside the box (case).
      • How is it for EMI/RFI in those enclosures (I'm guessing the VCR is not so bad as long as you maintained original shielding).
      • While I love the idea, and the flexibility, afforded by this form factor, I think the OP makes a valid point.

        I would LOVE to put a PC cleanly inside a 24oz Jolt can, peanut butter jar, or antique object d'art. I honestly don't have time for that crap and need a cheap enclosure that's ready to go.


    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by CaptDeuce ( 84529 )

      Mini-ITX has been a popular form-factor for a range of space-constrained hobbyist and commercial applications.
      I have one at home not because I'm "space-constrained" - but because it really nice and small Linux server which does everything I nee from it.

      "Nee"? Collect shrubbery [], do you?

  • I want to build a simple media centre and always on server for my house, I think a via board running at 1.5Ghz should do the job, viewing and recording SD tv, playing movies, serving files maybe mpd and stuff. Does anyone have a reason why this is a bad idea?
    • Re:media centre (Score:5, Informative)

      by smertens ( 12060 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:34AM (#23871569)

      I'm doing just fine with MythTV on a 1.0Ghz fanless board. I can record two SD shows at once while watching a third, all from a single hard drive. Just be sure to use the Openchrome video driver if you want playback to be watchable.

      • Re:media centre (Score:5, Informative)

        by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @10:09AM (#23872687) Homepage
        Remember to get a TV Tuner that does MPEG encoding onboard. For recording two shows at once, you'll need something like the Hauppauge WinTV PVR 500 []. With a card like this, your processor will hardly get used at all in the encoding process.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by langelgjm ( 860756 )

        Agreed. I'm running KnoppMyth on a 700 MHz Celeron. Encoding is fine - the Hauppauge PVR-150 handles it without a hitch. The machine can just barely handle playback, but my MacBook makes a nice, fast frontend.

        I'll have to try your suggestion of video driver to see if it improves playback performance.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        That's frightening. that you need the openchrome video driver to get SD video playable. These things have no chance in hell to play any HD video on them then.

        Why are they offering HD outputs whn the board cant ever hope to play HD content?

        • by smertens ( 12060 )

          It's clearly a driver issue of some sort - things go fast/slow/fast/slow if I use the default VIA drivers. Note that the board I'm using is very different (older) than what's being talked about in this article. It has a C7 processor, and uses the CN700 chipset, which has a built-in limit of 1024x1024 resolution for MPEG2 decoding. My board also does not have HD outputs, unless you count the analog VGA (I use the low-tech svideo to connect to my SDTV).

  • Virtual Computing. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vectronic ( 1221470 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:27AM (#23871501)

    Are they all 3D renderings?

    meh, excuse me... I just found it amusing... "VIA Debuts Mini-ITX 2.0"... and its just some 30 minute 3D model...

    Back on topic though, looks pretty kickass, if only it came with more PCIe slots, even just one more would do... 6.75"x6.75"... 3 of them could fit in the space your average keybaord takes (minus PSU)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ozbird ( 127571 )
      meh, excuse me... I just found it amusing... "VIA Debuts Mini-ITX 2.0"... and its just some 30 minute 3D model...

      "Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor - not an electrical engineer!"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Go directly to VIA's website [].

    Seriously, there's no ads on deviceguru's page so what's the fucking point?

  • by MC68040 ( 462186 ) <> on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:53AM (#23871733) Homepage

    This was announced on the 5th of this month, and already been featured on some news sites.

    Asides from that I like that we're getting an easy option for hdmi-out - it's one of the things that have been holding me back from using this in my sitting room :)

  • by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:53AM (#23871739) Homepage

    What is the point in shipping it with a PS/2 keyboard and mouse port. Complete waste of time. The space would be far more usefully be taken up with some more USB ports.

    Also how about some BIOS serial redirection on these things, so you don't have to plug in a monitor to configure these babies.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 20, 2008 @09:13AM (#23871921)
      A PS/2 KVM switch is common when one uses more than one of these convenient little boards. USB KVM switching is not nearly as ubiquitous.
      • I have a PS/2 KVM switch and use it with servers that have only USB ports. Just buy a $10 PS/2 to USB splitter cable.
    • Personally I like simple, bullet proof, and dedicated ports for universal devices (lets not discuss boxes that only have power and network connectivity) but I wish they would move to a lot more breakouts that attach modularly to the case and plug in to the motherboard (like extra usb ports)

      Additionally this really looks more conceptual then already printing boards (no flashing links on via's website about this new format). The specs list min. 4 usb ports and 1 gig ethernet. So I see no guarantee that

    • by argent ( 18001 )

      You want to eliminate the legacy mouse and keyboard ports, but you want to keep the legacy serial port?

      No, really, I'm all in favor of both these innovations, I just wonder about the subject line...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by prefect42 ( 141309 )

        Obviously he was really asking for something like IPMI enabled by default, that way we can get rid of the legacy serial port, ps/2 ports, and power button...

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

          Would be nice, but it would have to be over a separate ethernet port. The shared ethernet port with two MAC stuff is unreliable junk.

          However few if any mini-ITX boards have a BMC, where as they all with the addition of a small amount of code in the BIOS could do a full serial console. There is no additional hardware cost involved, it is all software.

      • by kriston ( 7886 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @09:55AM (#23872505) Homepage Journal

        If you get the boards based on the ATOM reference platform you will notice that it contains both serial and, get this, a PARALLEL port.

        Seriously, the parallel and serial ports are for embedded applications. It's much easier to use those 8 bits on the parallel port for dry contact control. And most small embedded controllers have serial interfaces.

        Why does it have to be legacy free? This is not supposed to be JUST a consumer computer platform.

        It's supposed to be both a consumer platform as well as an embedded platform and you can't be an embedded platform if you're legacy free.

        • by argent ( 18001 )

          Why does it have to be legacy free?

          It doesn't. I just thought the subject line was ironic.

        • A parallel port is a lot of complication and pins to drive 8 contacts; for $20 you could build a board with real relays that have much better electrical isolation from the motherboard and a USB or serial interface. (And that's what it cost me in a one-off construction; presumably you could do it much cheaper en mass). In addition to avoiding the space dedicated to the connector you can avoid resetting the relays on reboot -- something you can't do if you're driving the relays directly.

          • by kriston ( 7886 )

            Well, with the parallel port available, I don't need that extra $20 board. The point is that it's all in one component, whereas your board would not be.
            And if you're going through all the trouble of USB at that step you're already consuming an obscene amount of power in the design we are talking about when compared to a simple parallel, or even serial, port.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        Why? The PS/2 ports are only useful for using a PS/2 KVM which are cheap and common.
        There are MANY devices that only work with RS-232 ports. USB converts are on the whole junk and not very reliable.
        You will see these mini-ITX boards used a lot in embedded systems so yea I will lose the PS/2 port any day but please keep the come and lpt ports.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by OutOnARock ( 935713 )

          Who would want to lose their "come" port?

          (ducks, its Friday :) )
        • USB converts are on the whole junk and not very reliable.
          I have heard similar bad things about USB-PS2 converters. I have at least once found a keyboard that refused to work with the USB-PS2 converter I had (the keyboard worked fine on all motherboard PS2 ports I tried, the converter worked fine with another keyboard. My syspicion is that the converter was playing fast and loose with the specs of the PS2 interface but I never checked).

          so for those of us with existing PS2 kvm switches motherboards with PS2 p

          • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

            I can see that but then the devices that I work with that use Com ports cast about $5000 to replace. Most kvm swithes are a lot cheaper. :)

    • I was all set to reply to your post by pointing out that PS/2 keyboards are $4, while USB keyboards are $60 or something. Then I checked at, and found USB keyboards for $10. I hadn't realized USB prices had come down so much. Still, a lot of individuals and businesses have huge piles of PS/2 keyboards sitting around that they'd like to be able to keep on using.
    • ``What is the point in shipping it with a PS/2 keyboard and mouse port. Complete waste of time. The space would be far more usefully be taken up with some more USB ports.''

      While you are welcome to your opinion, I am very happy with all the legacy ports on the motherboards. That way, I can use all the stuff I already have, instead of having to upgrade everything.

    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      When most people will be running a legacy OS on these such as Windows XP, which does not fully and properly support USB input devices properly, the lack of a keyboard can be problematic for actually using the board.

      Yes, it's an exception when a USB keyboard doesn't work, but I've seen it often enough to realize how much of a problem it'd be for a product targeted at picking up at least -some- of the people wanting to install Windows.

  • Great, maybe in a couple of years you can actually order and receive one. Still pretty much impossible to get any of their nano or pico products, and even the original mini stuff is scarce. VIA has a history of 'annoucements' and trade show demos, but actual product delivery seems to be problematic -- at least here in the states.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

    • by kriston ( 7886 )

      Says you. I bought all my many VIA processors and processor/motherboard packages from more than a handful of US merchants within months of the announcement of their availability.

      • Well, their reputation was tarnished by the C3 to C7 transition. They stopped production on the C3 because of a patent issue and promised the C7 would be available right away. Production problems pushed the C7 release out many months. So, for a while, all you could get from VIA was existing stock and promises.
        • by kriston ( 7886 )

          I was aware of bus patent issues with the C7 making it electrically incompatible but I wasn't aware of those problems halted the C3 socket-370.

  • old (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    aehm VIA launched it some 2 weeks ago on Computex guys!
    this is oooooooooooooooold! who is doublechecking the new in these days?

  • Slashdotted. Anyone have a mirror?
  • DeviceGuru is adding little needed comentary to the official VIA post []. So why are we linking to DG instead of VIA's official site? (I know this is slashdot, gotta keep peoples views up and gain them ad revenue) There is even a video link on via's main page about mini-ITX 2.0 (no that it is worth watching).

    So who is hotter? Ali or Ali's Sister.

  • by kriston ( 7886 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @09:51AM (#23872433) Homepage Journal

    Amazing. At first I was wondering if the 45-degree offset component would allow good airflow, thinking it is the processor, but it is not.

    After downloading the Image Kit I noticed that the processor is actually the little tiny component with "nano" stamped on it near the top right side of the board.

    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      So what's the big offset component do, then? Don't tell me that's the chipset? I'd think such a large chipset would inhibit efficient power use beyond a certain point...

      • by kriston ( 7886 )

        It's the northbridge, I believe.
        I have several motherboards that use this configuration including some nForce boards. I think it's to make the leads as short as possible without too much of that wasteful zig-zagging that equalizes their lengths.

        That's how some makers, like Dell, solved the problem of using AMD 64 processors on BTX boards (the BTX specification puts the processor too far away from the memory and moving the chipset at an angle leaves more room for memory leads since AMD puts the memory contr

  • by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @11:44AM (#23874039)

    an evolutionary update

    For definitions of Evolution that include 10,000 hours of Creation and Design...

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Friday June 20, 2008 @11:49AM (#23874115) Homepage Journal

    The small form factor is all very well, but the previous generation of boards simply didn't do what they claimed to. HDTV and H.264 decoding in hardware are supposed to work, but are unsupported, for example.

    When you look at the high cost of these boards and the special cases and PSUs for them, combined with terrible performance (both CPU and components like gigabit ethernet or SATA) I can't see why anyone would want one. You can build a faster, cheaper and just as low power system using a cheap underclocked and undervolted Sempron and mATX mobo, with only a slightly larger (and much cheaper) case.

    Intel chipset, HDMI, suppomodern core2 processors.

    Or if that's not your thing there's always the atom based version

  • I'm kid of curious why Via is't pushing their pico-ITX form factor much, instead putting more steam behind nano-ITX. It is substantially smaller - about the size of a deck of playing cards and (as I understand it) doesn't need nearly as much heat dissipation or power as the nano-ITX.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin