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Via unveils Mobile-ITX COM form factor

Dec 1, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 12 views

Via announced a COM (computer on module) specification touted as the industry's most compact, with potential power consumption ranging from 12 Watts to below one Watt, depending on conditions. Measuring just 2.36 x 2.36 inches, “Mobile-ITX” modules and related baseboards will be available during the first quarter of 2010, says the company.

Mobile-ITX is the latest in a series of form factors created by Via, which have included 2001's Mini-ITX (below left), 2004's Nano-ITX (below middle), and 2007's Pico-ITX (below right). As our image shows, each of these form factors had half the surface area of the one that came before it, and Mobile-ITX continues that tradition, occupying just 36 square centimeters, according to Via.

Some of the previous form factors devised by Via
(Click to enlarge)

Mobile-ITX (pictured at left) appears to be fundamentally different from its predecessors, however, in that each of these constituted a complete motherboard, with real-world connectors or at least pin headers. The new form factor, on the other hand, adopts COM technology, and, in Via's words, is designed so "developers … can simply drop in the CPU module to a custom designed, application specific carrier board, negating lengthy developmental design and testing phases."

A Mobile-ITX module and its carrier board

As such, Mobile-ITX competes directly with existing COM formats such as Qseven, PC/104, and COM Express. Releasing the chart below, Via claimed Mobile-ITX is "the smallest available form factor on the market."

Maximum width (mm) Maximum depth (mm) Maximum area (sq. mm) % larger than Mobile-ITX
Mobile-ITX 60 60 3,600
Qseven 70 70 4,900 36%
PC/104 95.9 90.2 8,650 140%
COM Express 125 95 11,875 230%

COM Dimensions Chart
Source: Via

According to Via, Mobile-ITX — which naturally will make its debut with the company's own CPUs and chipsets — was made possible in part by a version of the C7-M ULV, which, in its new "mobileBGA" package, measures just 6 x 6mm. This CPU will be complemented by the VX820, an apparently new northbridge/southbridge that measures 21 x 21mm.

Like other miniaturized COMs — Qseven, for example — Mobile-ITX modules will employ soldered-on memory. (Via's initial Mobile-ITX reference module, about which we provide more details later in this story, sports 512MB). And, similarly, they'll relay all I/O signals and receive 5VDC port through a pair of 120-pin connectors.

Via claims these high-density, low-profile connectors require only 3mm of distance between the CPU module and the baseboard, making Mobile-ITX "ideal for ultra-slim system designs." It's said the connectors can also withstand vibrations of up to 5G, making industrial machining and in-vehicle-applications possible.

Sample Mobile-ITX carrier board designs
(Click either to enlarge)

Releasing diagrams (above) of sample Mobile-ITX carrier board designs, Via also provided details of a CPU module reference design (below) it apparently plans to offer as a product next year, though no model number was cited. The reference module includes the C7-M ULV processor, VX820 northbridge/southbridge, 512MB of DDR2 memory, and a variety of I/O, as listed below.

Via's Mobile-ITX CPU module reference design

Features and specifications listed by Via for its Mobile-ITX CPU module reference design include:

  • Processor — Via C7-M ULV, in 6 x 6mm mobileBGA package
  • Chipset — VX820 northbridge/southbridge, with 400MHz frontside bus, in 21 x 21mm package
  • Memory — 512MB of DDR2 RAM
  • Expansion:
    • PCI Express 1.0a support, offering 1 x1 lane port
    • SDIO host controller
  • Graphics:
    • VIA Chrome9 HC3 integrated graphics processor with 2D/3D video controllers
    • Supports 64/128/256/512MB frame buffers
    • 250MHz clock speed
    • CRT display interface, supporting resolutions up to 1920 x 1440 pixels
    • 18-bit TTL interface for LCD panels
    • 12-bit/16-bit/20-bit interface to external TV encoder for NTSC or PAL TV or HDTV displays
    • 12-bit DVI transmitter interface
  • Other I/O:
    • LPC interface
    • SMbus interface
    • PS/2 keyboard/mouse
    • 5 x USB 2.0
    • GPIO
    • High definition audio with mic in, line in, line out support
    • EIDE, supporting 2 devices
    • Video capture interface
  • Power — Supports single 5VDC power input
  • Dimensions — 2.36 x 2.36 inches (60 x 60mm)

Daniel Wu, VP of Via's embedded platform division, stated, "With Mobile-ITX we have again pushed back the barriers that limit just how small an embedded industrial PC can be. Mobile-ITX enables the creation of a new breed of ultra-compact, portable networked devices suitable for a range of applications, particularly in modern medical and military segments."


Via says products based on Mobile-ITX will be released during the first quarter of 2010. More information may be found on the company's website, here.

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