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Mini-ITX SBC targets high-volume embedded apps

Sep 28, 2005 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Kontron is sampling a mini-ITX board that supports Linux and targets cost-constrained, high-volume applications such as gaming, POS (point-of-sales/service), data communications, and medical equipment. The 786LCD/mITX is based on a mature Intel chipset and low-voltage processor, yet supports USB 2.0, SATA, FireWire, and LVDS, Kontron says.

A Mini-ITX mini-backgrounder

Mini-ITX is a 6.7 x 6.7 inch motherboard standard created by Via as a way of showcasing inexpensive chipsets for computer hobbyists. The form-factor caught on quickly, bringing with it a vast proliferation of cases, power supplies, slim-line drives, Flash-to-IDE adapters, and other handy computing components. This, in turn, led to increasing uptake of the form-factor among embedded board vendors, including Kontron, one of the world's largest.

In particular, vendors designing boards for living room PCs have embraced mini-ITX, possibly due to the wide availability of attractive, inexpensive, off-the-shelf cases and other components. High-density computing applications such as the Internet Archive are another hot market sector for mini-ITX.

It's important to note that mini-ITX motherboards from industrial single-board computer (SBC) vendors such as Kontron typically offer thicker PCBs, more rugged designs, and better build quality, compared with mini-ITX boards aimed at the consumer market. They also have correspondingly higher prices and minimum order volumes.

The 786LCD/mITX

The 786LCD/mITX is Kontron's fourth mini-ITX SBC. It succeeds the Pentium 4-based 886LCD/mITX, which shipped a month ago.

The 786LCD/mITX offers a wealth of modern PC I/O
(Click to enlarge)

The new 786LCD/mITX is based on Intel's mature 815E northbridge and ICH4 southbridge, yet it supports relatively recent interfaces such as USB 2.0, FireWire, SATA, and LVDS, Kontron says. The board is powered by a soldered-on Intel Celeron M Low Voltage processor clocked at 733MHz. A 400MHz Ultra-Low Voltage Celeron version is also planned.

The 786LCD/mITX features 256MB of soldered-on SDRAM, as well as a DIMM socket supporting an additional 256MB of RAM. Other features include:

  • 100MHz FSB
  • AGP slot
  • PCI slot
  • CompactFlash socket
  • AC-97 sound with on-board amplifier
  • LVDS port
  • Optional DVI port
  • 3 x 10/100 Mbps Ethernet ports
  • 2 x ATA100
  • 2 x SATA150
  • 6 x USB2.0
  • 4 x RS232C
  • 2 x IEEE 1394 (optional)
  • Remote hardware monitoring with Kontron API interface software


The 786LCD/mITX is available now.

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