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Via’s incredible shrinking mobo line spawns “pico-ITX”

Jan 25, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 7 views

Via is readying a media-oriented motherboard in what could be the next popular size for small form-factor PCs: Pico-ITX. The “Epia PX” board measures 3.9 x 2.8 inches and features a 1GHz C7 processor, along with rich audio/video I/O, albeit mostly on pin headers.

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Via debuted the Epia PX boards at the [email protected]'s event associated with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month. The demonstration showed pico-ITX-based systems ably running Windows XP and Vista, according to reports. Then, hours ago, some leaked photos and a short description showed up at

The new pico-ITX form-factor will reportedly measure 3.9 x 2.8 inches (10 x 7.2 cm) — exactly half the surface area of Via's already small 4.7 x 4.7-inch (12 x 12cm) Nano-ITX standard, and considerably smaller than the original 6.7-inch square (17 x 17cm) mini-ITX standard.

The Epia PX has almost all I/O on pin headers
(Click to enlarge)

The first pico-ITX board will be called the Epia PX. It will be available initially with a C7 processor clocked at 1GHz. The Gigahertz mark has long been a “sweet spot” in Via's chip line, due to the possibility of easy passive cooling.

With heat spreader
(Click to enlarge)

The Epiacenter poster, Christoph Derndorfer, speculates that the Epia PX will use Via's CX700M(2) or VX700 chipsets, reasoning that either would offer the “UniChrome Pro II” integrated graphics that Via has touted for the board.

Both “chipsets” actually integrate north- and south-bridge functions into single 37.5mm-square chip. The CX700M features “premium” graphics and audio, including support for HDTV out (via DVI/LVDS and S-video), as well as CCIR656/TS video input. The VX700 is a slightlier brawnier, more desktoppy chip that lacks video in, but adds extra USB and drive interfaces, managing to combine all the functions of Via's VN800/VT8237 northbridge/southbridge combo.

Note the tiny power connector
(Click to enlarge)

Regardless of which northbridge is ultimately used, the Epia PX will have only VGA and Ethernet ports onboard, with all other I/O routed to pin headers. With lots and lots of cables, and tiny, tiny cases, pico-ITX could certainly challenge hobbyist building skills, while enabling a whole new class of case mods. PC in an Altoids tin, anyone?

In a two-page article about Via's roadmap for the year ahead, Sal Cangeloso of XYZ Computing surmises that Via intends pico-ITX for consumers, similar to mini-ITX. On the other hand, Nano-ITX, he suggests, is intended more for the industrial embedded market, explaining the continued high prices and limited availability of Via's Epia NX boards.

Cangeloso expects Via to ask about $250 for the Epia PX. His story can be found here.

Derndorfer, posting at Epiacenter, is less optimistic about price. Noting that the tiny Epia PX likely has eight or more layers, and that even nano-ITX boards still cost more than $300, he guesses the Epia PX will sell for closer to $350. His posts can be found here and here.


Via has not yet announced either pricing or availability details for the Epia PX.

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