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Via debuts tiny, media-rich, nano-ITX mobo duo

Mar 13, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Via Technologies is sampling a pair of nano-ITX motherboards that target space-constrained embedded systems where heavy media processing is needed. The 4.7 x 4.7-inch boards use Via's C7 processor, clocked at 1.5GHz or 1.2GHz, along with Via's CX700M2 single-chip core logic.

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The new Epia NX-series boards offer very little in the way of PC-style I/O connectors — just a single back-panel Ethernet port. Thus, they appear to be aimed squarely at the higher-margin embedded board market, rather than at consumer or hobbyist markets — which have traditionally been served by Via's mini-ITX form-factor boards.

That said, Via in January shipped an Epia EX mini-ITX board that appears to be virtually identical, functionally, to the new NX nano-ITX board, except for its larger (6.7 x 6.7-inch) size and wealth of physical PC- and consumer electronics-style I/O connectors. The larger, and more easily interfaced Epia EX probably makes more sense for building a Myth-TV box or the like.

The NX15000 and NX12000 nano-ITX boards are powered, respectively, by 1.5GHz and 1.2GHz C7 processors. The C7 was billed as a Pentium M Killer when it was unveiled in May of 2005, largely on the strength of its lower power requirements, which were further lowered 10 months later when Via brought out ultra-low voltage versions. Via has also delivered a C7-D desktop chip that clocks up to 1.8GHz, and is billed as a major energy saver compared to Intel and AMD desktop chips.

Both of the new nano-ITX boards use Via's CX700M2 integrated northbridge/southbridge, the newest “single-chip chipset” in the company's CX700 line, introduced last April. The CX700M2 apparently succeeds the CX700M, which launched last September.

The CX700M2 features built-in hardware decoders for popular multimedia formats, and it also supports Via's external, ASIC-based encoders for standard high-definition television formats. The chipset integrates Via's UniChrome Pro II 2D/3D graphics core, “Vinyl” multi-channel HD audio, and hardware decoders for MPEG-2/-4 and WMV9 video.

Additional touted features and specifications of the NX15000EG and NX12000EG include:

  • Via C7 1.5GHz NanoBGA2 or Via Fanless Eden 1.2GHz NanoBGA2
  • Chipset: Via CX700M2 Unified Digital Media IGP Chipset
  • System Memory:
    • 1 x DDR2 533 SODIMM socket
    • Up to 1GB memory size
  • VGA:
    • Integrated Via UniChrome Pro II 3D/2D AGP graphics with MPEG-2/4 and WMV9 decoding acceleration
  • Expansion: mini-PCI slot
  • Storage interfaces:
    • 1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 connector (Secondary 2.0mm 44-pin header)
    • 2 x SATA connectors
  • 10/100 Ethernet (Via VT6107)
  • Optional gigabit Ethernet controller (Via VT6122)
  • Onboard Audio (Via VT1708A)
  • Integrated HDTV encoder
  • Back Panel I/O:
    • 1 RJ-45 LAN port
  • Onboard I/O Connectors
    • 1 x USB connector for 6 additional USB 2.0 ports
    • 1 x LPC connector
    • 1 x LVDS connector
    • 1 x DVO connector to support 2nd LVDS panel (an add-on card is required)
    • 1 x TV out connector for Composite, S-Video and Component (YPbPr)
    • 1 x Video connector for VGA output, CCIR656/601 video input and SMBus
    • 1 x Audio connector for line-out, line-in, mic-in and S/PDIF out
    • 1 x PS2 keyboard/mouse connector
    • 2 x Fan connectors for CPU and system fans
    • 1 x Nano-ITX power connector
  • Award BIOS, 4/8Mbit flash memory
  • Wake-on-LAN, Keyboard-Power-on, Timer-Power-on
  • System power management
  • AC power failure recovery
  • Operating Temperatur 0 – 50 degrees Celsius

Daniel Wu, assistant VP, stated, “Better multimedia within increasingly smaller, slimmer packages defined the design of this latest generation Nano-ITX mainboard. The EPIA NX will help [enable] quieter, more space-saving, and reliable embedded systems, further promoting the adoption of the x86 platform in everyday systems.”

Via shipped its first nano-ITX board in March of 2004 as a follow-up to its earlier mini-ITX board specification. Nano-ITX boards measure 4.7 x 4.7-inches (12 x 12cm), while mini-ITX boards measure 6.7-inches square (17 x 17cm). Via also recently unveiled a pico-ITX form-factor (shown at right), which measures 3.9 x 2.8 inches (10 x 7.2 cm).

Availability

The Via EPIA NX-Series nano-ITX motherbaord is available now for developers, and
will be available through authorized distributors shortly, Via says. Pricing was not disclosed.


 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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