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Nano-powered Mini-ITX signage board can drive up to four displays

Jun 2, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

Via Technologies announced a Mini-ITX motherboard for digital signage, offered with an optional S3-based graphics module with quad-display support. The Via VB8004 motherboard offers a choice of 1.2GHz and 1.6GHz Via Nano E-Series processors with up to 4GB DDR3 memory, supports HDMI, LVDS, and DVI displays, and provides PCI Express, gigabit Ethernet, USB, serial, and SATA connectivity.

The Via VB8004 joins a number of 6.7 x 6.7-inch Mini-ITX motherboards from Via said to support digital signage, including last month's Epia-M860. However, the VB8004 exclusively targets high-end signage, offering the option of a faster 1.6GHz Via Nano E-series processor in addition to the standard 1.2GHz Nano E-series model available with the Epia-M860. In either case the system can be fitted with up to 4GB DDR3 memory, says Via Technologies.

Via VB8004

(Click to enlarge)

With the standard Via VX900 chipset, the system provides DX10.1 graphics, and support for 1080p video and dual displays. In addition, the VB8004 provides an optional S3 5400E-based graphics module (the VB8004-A) for "top-of-the line" graphics and video, including DX10.1, Shader Model 4.1, OpenGL 3.1, and OpenCL 1.0 support.

VB8004 with VB8004A graphics daughtercard

(Click to enlarge)

According to Via, the VB8004-A supports Blu-ray, H.264, VC-1, WMV-9, and MPEG-2/4, plus HD video playback at resolutions of up to 2560 x 1600 pixels. It also provides a Mini PCI slot, an HDMI port, and a DVI-I port, which supplement the VB8004A's standard equipment to allow four displays to be driven simultaneously, the company says. 

Rear panel detail (left), with second expansion daughtercard and wireless module shown at right
(Click to enlarge)

The VB8004 board itself offers additional real-world, rear-panel ports including a gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, a serial port, and a PS2 port. Meanwhile, dual SATA ports, and four more USB ports are available via headers, says Via. Other onboard I/O include serial, audio, and DIO connections.

VB8004 block diagram

The motherboard also offers PCI Express (PCIe) x1 and x4 expansion available via a single, proprietary 80-pin connector that also offers one of the four aforementioned USB connections. An optional 802.11b/g/n card can be plugged in here, as shown in the detail shot below.

VB8004, detailed view

(Click to enlarge)

Features and specifications listed for the Via VB8004 include:

  • Processor — Via Nano E-Series clocked at 1.2GHz or 1.6GHz
  • Chipset — Via VX900
  • Memory — up to 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 RAM
  • Expansion (via 80-pin connector):
    • PCI Express x4 (with USB)
    • PCI Express x1
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet (Via VT6130) via PCIe (rear panel)
  • Other I/O:
    • Rear panel:
      • DVI-I
      • serial
      • 2 x USB 2.0
      • PS2 keyboard/mouse
      • HDMI
    • Onboard headers:
      • 4 x USB 2.0
      • front audio I/O for Via VT1708S audio codec
      • LVDS (24-bit)
      • serial port
      • front panel pin header
      • 2 x SATA
      • DIO (4 in, 4 out)
      • sys and CPU fan connectors
  • Optional daughtercard I/O:
    • HDMI port
    • DVI-I port
    • mini-PCIe + USB
  • Power — DC-in 12V
  • Operating temperature — 32 to 140 deg. F (0 to 60 deg. C)
  • Dimensions — 6.7 x 6.7 inches (17 x 17cm); Mini-ITX
  • Operating system — Linux, Windows 7, Windows Embedded Standard 7, Windows Embedded Standard/Compact, Windows XP

Stated Epan Wu, head of the Via Embedded Platform Division, Via Technologies, "The VIA VB8004 has been developed from the ground up to provide a scalable solution for our digital signage customers."


No information was provided on the pricing or availability of the Via VB8004, but the board is said to support Linux, Windows 7, Windows Embedded Standard 7, Windows Embedded Standard/Compact, Windows XP. More information may be found at the Via VB8004 page.

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