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CD-ROM sized board targets x86 storage servers

Apr 1, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Via has announced a motherboard with an unusual 7.5 x 5.6 inch footprint, matching that of a standard optical disk drive. The NAS 7800 runs Linux on a 1.5GHz C7 processor, and targets storage devices with up to eight SATA drives.

(Click here for a larger view of Via's NAS 7800)

Via says it designed the NAS 7800 for “thin servers,” though the board actually has more functionality — onboard VGA graphics, for example — than most devices associated with that moniker. The form factor allows it to be stacked with an optical disk drive in a compact case, or multiple NAS 7800s can fit into a standard 1U server chassis, Via suggests.

The NAS 7800 includes Via's 1.5GHz C7 processor, rated for a maximum power consumption of about 12 watts. A fanless Via Eden CPU is also available for “project” customers — Via's term for high-volume purchasers. Presumably, most devices with multiple hard drives will need active cooling, regardless. As well as a watchdog timer, the system also includes wake-on LAN and wakeup scheduling, to help save power in network storage applications.

A single DIMM socket accepts up to 1GB of RAM, and the NAS 7800 includes Via's CN700 northbridge and VT8251 southbridge. The chipset includes Via's integrated Via UniChrome Pro graphics with 2D/3D and MPEG-2 video accelerator.

The NAS 7800 includes an UltraDMA 133/100/66 connector, and it comes in models featuring either four or eight 3Gbps SATA connectors:

  • NAS 7800-15T — four SATA connectors and a single gigabit Ethernet controller
  • NAS 7800-15LST — eight SATA connectors, and two gigabit Ethernet controllers

In general, interfaces on the MAS 7800 are made available via pin headers, because of the device's small size. For example, pin connectors are used for VGA, two USB ports, PS/2 keyboard and mouse, and GPIO. However, PC-style connectors on the edges of the board provide an additional four USB ports, single or dual LAN interfaces, and the four or eight SATA connectors.

The NAS 7800 also includes Infineon's SLB9635TT 1.2 TPM (trusted platform module) chip. Data encryption and decryption is performed through hardware using the integrated PadLock Security Engine, according to Via.

Expansion capabilities include a Type I CompactFlash slot, while the enhanced NAS 7800-15LST model mentioned above also includes a Mini PCI slot.

Features and specifications listed by Via for the NAS 7800 include:

  • Processor — Via C7 clocked at 1.5GHz, or optional fanless Via Eden (clock speed not stated)
  • Memory — Single DIMM socket accepts up to 1GB of 400/533/667MHz RAM
  • Display — Integrated Via UniChrome Pro graphics with 2D/3D and MPEG-2 video accelerator
  • Networking — 1 x gigabit Ethernet (NAS 7800-15T) or 2 x gigabit Ethernet (NAS 7800-15LST)
  • Other I/O:
    • 4 x USB (standard connectors)
    • 2 x USB
    • 1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66
    • 4 x SATA (NAS 7800-15T)
    • 8 x SATA (NAS 7800-15LST)
    • 1 x VGA
    • 2 x serial (COM1 is powered and selectable with 5V/12V)
    • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse
    • 1 x GPIO

  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60 deg. C
  • Dimensions — 7.5 x 5.6 inches

In addition to running Linux, the NAS 7800 runs Windows XP Embedded, Windows CE, Windows 2000, and Windows XP Professional. Pricing was not cited by Via, but the system is said to be sampling now.

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