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Em-ITX spec sports dual “coastlines”

Mar 3, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Via has announced a new “open industry standard” for embedded boards. Targeting “ultra-slim” applications, and set for an April debut, the “Em-ITX” form factor (left) offers dual I/O “coastlines,” plus an “Em-IO” expansion bus that will support optional add-on modules, the company says.

(Click here for a larger view of Via's Em-ITX, illustrated with an Em-IO expansion board in place)

According to Via, Em-ITX employs a 170 x 120mm rectangle, unlike the company's earlier Mini-ITX and Nano-ITX specs, which used squares measuring 170 x 170mm and 120 x 120mm, respectively. The rectangular shape allows dual “coastlines,” providing 19 percent more room for real-world connectors than if a square had been utilized, the company notes.

Em-ITX is 30 percent smaller than Mini-ITX, but has twice the coastline, Via says
(Click to enlarge)

Via says the Em-ITX form factor is 30 percent smaller than Mini-ITX, but provides twice as much room for connectors because of its two coastlines. At the same time, the fact that some dimensions are shared with both Mini-ITX and Nano-ITX, as pictured above, allows system designers to “take advantage of existing chassis and device designs,” the company claims.

The dual-coastline approach is touted as cutting the clutter posted by pin headers, cables, and brackets. It allows plenty of room for COM (RS-232/422/485), RJ45, DVI, VGA, LVDS, USB 2.0, and other typical ports, according to Via. Many of Via's mini-ITX boards, through the years, have been real marvels of I/O, bristling with connectors for every conceivable type of interface.

Meantime, expansion is catered for by a pair of 160-pin Samtec Q Strip [PDF link, here] connectors, which provide access to Via's “Em-IO” data bus. Em-IO integrates both legacy and modern data buses for a complete range of I/O devices, including the following, according to the company:

  • USB 2.0
  • GPIO
  • LPC
  • PCI Express
  • 36-bit LVDS
  • SMBus
  • CardBus
  • IEEE 1394
  • RS-232/422/485
  • ACPI 3.0
  • DC power signals (3.3 V, 5 V, and 12 V)

Via says it will offer a selection of Em-IO expansion modules covering a variety of industrial applications, including networked applications, multimedia display, kiosk, POI and POS applications. The expansion modules bring all the advantages of custom designed boards without the necessary development time, according to the company.

Daniel Wu, vice president of Via's Via Embedded division, said, “Via is known globally as a pioneer of small form factor boards that have become industry standards. With its extensive I/O accessibility, the innovative Em-ITX form factor can deliver ultra-slim systems or customized stacked systems for a wide range of embedded applications.”

In the past, Via has published its open form factors through the SFF-SIG (“Small Form-factor Special Interest Group”), though it did not mention the group in its release, and no mention appears (yet) on the SFF-SIG website.


Via said products based on Em-ITX will be available next month. Without providing further specifics, the company said that forthcoming Em-ITX boards will take advantage of Via's full range of processor platforms, including the fanless Eden and the 64-bit Nano.

More information on Em-ITX may be found on the Via website, here.

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