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Via Launches New Line of Mini-ITX Boards

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the smaller-is-better dept.

197

An anonymous reader writes "LinuxDevices has the skinny on Via's next-generation Epia EN mini-ITX boards, which feature its relatively new C7 processors based on the Esther C5J core. The boards will be able to run passively cooled at 1.2GHz, and will clock up to 2GHz, with 800MHz FSBs." From the article: "They target thin clients, car PCs, robotics, medical equipment, kiosks, and server appliances."

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What does passively cooled really mean? (4, Interesting)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911345)

I've got a ME6000 board that isn't reliable unless there's some air flowing over the heatsink. This was supposedly passively cooled, but I had to add a little fan blowing right at the heatsink to get the temperatures down from 60C to about 38C.

It even overheated when it wasn't in the box.

What does hot product really mean? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911364)

"It even overheated when it wasn't in the box."

Wow! Did it burst into flames on the store shelf?

Re:What does passively cooled really mean? (1)

claes (25551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911387)

I can agree. I have an VIA EPIA PD-Series, with Eden processor. It frequently hangs so I have to turn it off and on again. I don't trust VIA on this - I will mount a processor fan on it but that pretty much gets rid of the point of getting a fanless processor to begin with.

Re:What does passively cooled really mean? (1)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911438)

That's bad, especially if you consider that most chips are (AFAIK) ok until they reach about 95C. I had an Eden 533 which got really hot, but it never had any real problems (except its abysmal sound, networking, and graphics chip...).

Well, I sure hope these new beasts are at least reasonable in performance, in price (up to recently the old Eden boards never really fell in price, while other CPUs ramped up speed and lowered power consumption), and of course in temperature.

Re:What does passively cooled really mean? (5, Interesting)

Bradee-oh! (459922) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911652)

I run a PD as my firewall/router/server. I suffered frequent hang problems and replaced the cheap power supply I was using with a known-good, better quality supply and haven't had a problem. This is running passively cooled. I've also had a few other Epia boards in the past. My experience says they are very picky on their voltages, but overheating likely isn't the problem.

Re:What does passively cooled really mean? (2, Interesting)

FIT_Entry1 (468985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911882)

I have a similar set up with an EPIA M10000 running m0n0wall, i literally threw it together using known bad ram, an ancient 1 gig hard drive, an old 10Mb ethernet card and have had months of uptime with zero problems.

Prostitute Schedule for Mar. 13 at the MBOT in SF (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911451)

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I kid you not.

Please establish a hypertext link to this message. Spread the word!

Re:What does passively cooled really mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911625)

I think they mean with no real components attatched in close proximity . . .

Re:What does passively cooled really mean? (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912266)

60C isn't particularly hot for a modern CPU. My XP 1800+ gets that hot - with active cooling. The system should still run stable at those temperatures...

Re:What does passively cooled really mean? (1)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912872)

Sounds like someone needs to google 'thermal paste'.

  My Athlon64 3200 idles at 32C/89F. Then again, it's watercooled, but even with the old heatsink it never got very hot.

hmmm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911348)

doesn't seem like anyone's interested. FP three minutes after story goes up?

Great, but will it support Virtualization? (2, Interesting)

luckytroll (68214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911354)

This is a great platform, if you dont mind the slower speed of the C3/7 processors - but the thing that I have been a little miffed about is the unsupportability to run VMware - hopefully the C7 may fix this.

Re:Great, but will it support Virtualization? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911449)

One thing that gave me great joy from the article...

"a full-speed FPU (floating point unit), rather than the half-speed unit of earlier Via chips"

At last!
Also, note on the die layout that space is dedicated to SSE/MMX. So, they are not just emulated and hogging the floating point like on some chips.

I'll have to see some more benchmarks, but I should be able to stop moaning about my PIII 550 being faster than 1Ghz via parts.

I'm sorry (-1)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911465)

You seem to have confused this low power embedded application/appliance motherboard with a server motherboard. Perhaps you should consider an Opteron, Athlon64, or G5.

I'm also sorry (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911608)

You seem to have mistaken VMware as a server only application.

Re:Great, but will it support Virtualization? (4, Interesting)

daniel23 (605413) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912562)

Hm, my Lan server is an Epia C3-800, running SuSE 8.2 (still). It runs VMware-2.0.4 and in it another SuSE which handles the (mostly harmless, unless I link my pr0n collection) http, ftp, ssh I get here. Both host and guest OS had their uptime wrap around last summer, so I'd argue it is an not entirely unstable setup.

Oh yes, and it doesnt overheat, either, in spite of me taking all the included fans out. It has a Morex Cubid 2677 case standing on its left side, thus having convection cooling.

hello (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911361)

everyone prepare for the anti-horse rally in enumclaw, washington in july. we're trying to get the horses out of the horse mecca of the USA. more info as it becomes available.

Re:hello (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911690)

1st Annual Anti-Horse Rally and March

July 2, 2005 - Enumclaw, Washington

For more information visit HorseHater.org [horsehater.org] .

"We will never forget."

Price List (-1, Offtopic)

swelke (252267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911369)

I wish Slashdot would publish their price list for posting stories like this. For certain product categories, it has to be some of the most effective advertising available, and I'd like to know how the price compares to other media.

Cool but... (2, Interesting)

Life700MB (930032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911392)


Looks like a very cool home server, but it lacks a second network card, like the MacMini.


--
Superb hosting [tinyurl.com] 20GB Storage, 1_TB_ bandwidth, ssh, $7.95

Re:Cool but... (2, Informative)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911477)

Well, if you don't need a PCI card, you can probably use the PCI slot (I hope they have one!) for another networking card (unlike the Mac mini I'm sitting at).

I ran an Eden 533 for a while, and did just that...

Mac mini and networking (1)

whit3 (318913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912412)

While it isn't usually done, the Mac mini actually DOES have a second fast network
port (for a total of four: modem, Airport/802.11g, Ethernet 100baset are the others).
On the new Core minis, it's 1000baseT Ethernet and no modem...

Firewire is a capable interface, and IP traffic is one of its capabilities.
It works with a Firewire cable, peer-to-peer, between two Macs and
at 400 Mbit/sec it's sometimes an improvement on crossover-cable-Ethernet.

Re:Cool but... COST (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911556)

The EPIA boards look nice until you actually try to spec out a system for your entertainment center. The CPU board + case + hard disk gets you into the $400+ range and makes the EPIA based system worse than buying an integrated, tested system such as the Mac Mini.

Via should concentrate on producing a $50 board with a $40 case and power supply. That would make a nice sub-$200 system for the living room

Re:Cool but... COST (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911718)

Whereas, of course, any other motherboard plus processor plus power supply plus disk plus case will come in for only a tiny fraction of that.

Re:Cool but... (3, Informative)

marcelC (592689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911570)

The previous C3 "nehemiah" line of epia boards had a model with 2 ethernet ports on it. These should come out for this model as well.

Re:Cool but... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911639)

Yeah but these things are perfect for car pc's like those over at http://www.dashboardmonkey.com/ [dashboardmonkey.com] and http://www.carpcspecialist.com/ [carpcspecialist.com]

There are entire communities that use things like this.

In fact, we got sent some test units of these babys a month or two back by via and are about to get some new power supplies too. We did our tests which will be published shortly, but these puppys rock!

Re:Cool but... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911716)

I think those people that paste a signature into their posts should really get a life, especially when it is clearly done to get them money via click-thrus or the like.

Re:Cool but... (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912041)

You can connect several machines to one network port, you know.

Re:Cool but... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912355)

via do the epia CL and PD lines which have two ethernet adaptors (and a pci slot too). Its quite possible they will do something similar for this series.

and all epias have a pci slot (two with a riser card) which you can use to get more ports though you have to choose your case correctly.

Re:Cool but... (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912545)

Besides choosing another VIA EPIA model that does have two network interfaces, or using the PCI slot for a NIC, there's a somewhat neat software solution. You can actually NAT with a single NIC if you assign two IP addressess, and use a switch. It's probably not as secure as proper NAT, because you cannot separate the networks on an Ethernet level. On the other hand, local addresses like 192.168.0.0/16 are not routable, and thus not practically visible to the outside Internet.

PVR (3, Interesting)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911398)

And of course they target living-room PVR devices, but with the brouhaha over broadcast flags, maybe it's understandable that they want to keep it quiet. Do it the easy way with Knoppmyth [mysettopbox.tv]

Re:PVR (1)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911532)

Cool. First thing I thought of too!

Re:PVR (4, Interesting)

idonthack (883680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911670)

My dad uses some mobos like this for our Myth setup, with 1GHz processors and hardware mpeg decoding. They've got fans but they run really quiet, especially without harddrives. He had another fanless 600MHz one, but it was too slow to use as a Myth client. These faster ones will be great for the same purpose.

Re:PVR (4, Funny)

BooRadley (3956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912226)

This is for your dad:

Here's to you, Mr. "I have a kid old enough to post intelligently on Slashdot, yet I'm still geeky enough to build out my own multi-head MythTV setup."

Re:PVR (2)

wings (27310) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912825)

Thanks. :-)

Re:PVR (1)

geckofiend (314803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912502)

Except that the open source drivers removed support for MPEG decoding acceleration and Via's drivers suck.

They target thin clients ... hmmm. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911429)

The board looks like it has more horsepower than the computer I'm using right now. Have they re-defined what a thin client is?

Re:They target thin clients ... hmmm. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911567)

I dunno. What exactly do you call a device that has no hard disk but boots over the net using a boot prom and mounts its storage using network file protocols like NFS? By some definitions this is not a "thin" client I suppose, but I think this is the kind of thing where a physically tiny board packing a lot of power is a good idea.

Re:They target thin clients ... hmmm. (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911689)

My cell phone has more horsepower and RAM than a big iron had in the 70s...
Redefinitions happen all the time in IT, you know?

A prototype Epia EN board (Click to enlarge) (5, Funny)

urban_gorilla (691918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911475)

no thanks. thats the whole point.

Hardware Specs (3, Informative)

slick_rick (193080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911513)

I would have bought an EPIA years ago if VIA would open up the specs a bit more. Google around about people getting linux going on these. It is an easy thing to do, as long as you don't want to have everything on the board work (like the SVideo out, the onboard MPEG2 decoder, etc) . It can work from what I understand, just not something I wanted to spend a week trying.

So is the new line any better? If so I'd buy as I'm in the market for 2 or 3 machines like this. Question is, does VIA even care about the Linux user? Until now the answer has been no.

Re:Hardware Specs (1)

gid13 (620803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911599)

Yeah. It'd also be nice if you could find more than one mini-itx case on the planet that didn't look like pure ass.

IAWTP! (1)

ankarbass (882629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911752)

No shit.

Re:Hardware Specs (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911680)

Considering there are linux drivers available for the currently-available boards, and that VIA link to those drivers from their homesite, I'd say, "Yes".

...and no (2, Informative)

phorm (591458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912307)

And as somebody who had to jump through a whole lot of hoops over time to make them work. I'd have to say that the return answer is "sorta."

Yes, there were Epia drivers. They also tended towards bugginess and being a royal pain in the ass to install. Not to mention that the installer was specific for various distributions but nothing debian-based... much to my annoyance.

VIA released source (5, Informative)

metamatic (202216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912463)

VIA released source for all the hardware on the M10000. It's gradually being cleaned up and integrated into Linux. For example, 2.6 currently supports the hardware RNG and hardware accelerated X11, and the MPEG hardware is supported in mplayer. Sensors work, ethernet works, Firewire and USB work, all with open source drivers. They do a much better job than most other vendors at supporting Linux.

(If you know of a motherboard with SATA that'll take a CPU that can be passively cooled and has open source drivers for everything, I'd like to hear about it, as I plan to build a bigger server this year.)

How about homemade routers? (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911518)

Now that Linksys is abandoning Linux completely there aren't many SOHO routers for hackers out there anymore. My electric bill here in the northeast USA is running almost $150 a month this winter - and it's been warm. Can't wait for air-conditioner season. But I digress... Passive cooling = no fan, right? If these things are quiet AND efficient they might really have something there, although 2 GHz for a router seems excessive. Maybe not once you add in network storage, a web server, a Radius server and a few CPU-hungry VPN protocols.

Re:How about homemade routers? (2, Informative)

michrech (468134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911587)

For SOHO, do you *really* need 2ghz for web server, router, storage, etc?

1.2ghz ought to be fine for that, which is what they claim it will run while being passively cooled.

Minus the vpn tunnels, I ran a web/mail/storage/router/firewall server, under linux, on a P3550mhz. I'm sure the VPN tunnels wouldn't require THAT much CPU time...

Re:How about homemade routers? (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912795)

I would take as much processor as they are willing to give me, for anything. The more you have, the more you can do.

The flip side to this is the general-purpose CPU. Do we really need this for routers, firewalls, and everything else that we can think of? Maybe it's time to ask for specialized chips. Instead of having one 3 ghz chip running at 1% cpu usage, have a stripped down one running 50%.

Re:How about homemade routers? (2, Interesting)

Not_Wiggins (686627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911596)

If these things are quiet AND efficient they might really have something there, although 2 GHz for a router seems excessive.

Exactly correct: 2G is excessive for a router. However, if it can be passively cooled at 2G (well, the article states passively cooled at 1.2G), then it should be very cool when it is underclocked to run at a speed adequate to handle router-specific tasks. Just because the power is there doesn't mean you need to utilize it all; underclocking* is great in situations where cooling is an issue.

* - When available. Depends on if there are frequency locks on the MB and/or processor.

Re:How about homemade routers? (2, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911706)

There are *plenty* of "SOHO" routers for hackers. Linksys were always jut the "crappy but well marketed" ones. Lots of Netgear and ZyXel routers are plenty hackable, run linux, use the same processors as the linksys routers, have more features, and are signifigantly cheaper.

Release yourself from the grip of the Linksys fanboys.

Re:How about homemade routers? (4, Interesting)

questionlp (58365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911828)

It may not be a retail product, but you can always get a Soekris kit that has multiple Ethernet interfaces, 128 or 256MB of RAM and supports CF for additional storage for around $300 (net4801-50, 128MB version, with a total of 5 Ethernet interfaces).

http://www.soekris.com/net4801.htm [soekris.com]

It runs off of a 586-class processor and with all of the fixins, would only draw around 20-25W. Not bad for something that can run Linux or *BSD. I haven't messed with one yet, but they do look pretty good even for a small server that can provide: SSH, FTP, web, NTP, DNS, DHCP, etc. Heck, it may replace my Sun Blade 100 one of these days ;)

Re:How about homemade routers? (3, Insightful)

TopSpin (753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912089)

that has multiple Ethernet interfaces

I'd have bought several Epia boards by now if they had just put a useful number of Ethernet ports on board. Their 2-port boards look like one-offs and do not inspire. I want a board with 3 ports. If you're going to talk about "server appliance" you need 2+ network ports... Yet, from the photos I see here their latest stuff has

wait for it

1 port.

Sigh.

Re:How about homemade routers? (1)

Grelli (98061) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912253)

Now that Linksys is abandoning Linux completely

Except for the part where they listened to the community and introduced a new model based on the V4 hardware of the WRT54G called the WRT54GL...

Re:How about homemade routers? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912348)

You don't need a 2Ghz part for a router. My C3 1.2Ghz part runs Gentoo Linux [yes, I build stuff on the thing] and it handles traffic just fine. It can ipchains NAT traffic at full modem speed [which admitedly at 700Kbyte/sec isn't that fast].

The newer 2Ghz parts may give you more oomph but for a router/nat/dhcp/bind box they're not required.

Tom

Not too exciting (2, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911539)

From the looks of it, they're just releasing a chip that is 40% less of a dog than the existing chip. Still not that great. It is a bit more power efficent than a Pentium-M, but you really pay for that in the performance. Not a terribly exciting chip IMHO, but one that will probably find some use in set-top appliances and the like.

No drivers for CarPC stuff (3, Interesting)

scsirob (246572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911588)

VIA so far has ignored all begging owners of other MiniITX boards to release Windows drivers that can run 800x480 resolution. This is the native resolution of nearly all 7" wide-screen displays, very popular with Car PC builders.

I sincerly hope VIA will listen this time and release a driver that fits the requests of all these CarPC project owners.

Also, there's been a MiniITX board with 12V-only power input. Unfortunately the 12V must be within +/- 5%, making it again unsuitable for Car PC usage. Why can't they release a board with wide voltage input (7V - 28V), and if at all possible with a built-in shutdown controller??

Re:No drivers for CarPC stuff (1)

pdbogen (596723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911647)

Why can't they release a board with wide voltage input (7V - 28V)

Probably because this would significantly increase the price of the parts, (being that they would need to be of much higher quality), and/or require them to incorporate a voltage-regulating power supply, which would (a) increase the size, and (b) increase the heat output. You can probably do the second part on your own, anyway...

Re:No drivers for CarPC stuff (5, Informative)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911885)


I know I'll get moderated as a troll again because I suggest using Linux over Windows, but

Modeline "800x480" 40 800 864 928 1088 480 481 484 509 +hsync

Will do the trick for X. No drivers necessary.

Re:No drivers for CarPC stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912175)

Have you tested this with a M1x000 board? The resolution is locked out by the BIOS. I've tried several hacks with no success. Also, when using a Lilliput 7", the screen itself can't lock onto a proper resolution.

Re:No drivers for CarPC stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912174)

Wouldn't Powerstrip work?

Multicore C7 = x86 Niagara? (4, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911609)

Via have been making small, cheap, low power cores for some time, whilse Intel and AMD moved to large, expensive high power one.

Now there's a move to multi core designs and blade servers, and even the slowest x86 server is probably over powered for a server, you have to wonder if they could do an x86 version of Niagara [theinquirer.net]

From here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VIA_C7 [wikipedia.org]

"You can also see a quad-core C7, could be manufactured for the same cost as a single core P4 on 90 nm process."

Now Niagara is 8 core and each core has four threads admittedly, but there's something to be said for a four way x86 chip for blades. The power consumption wouldn't be too bad either. But you can have four C7 cores per P4 core. If I were AMD for example, I'd be playing around with an x86 Niagara.

http://groups.google.com/group/comp.arch/msg/991ff 1390b277b98?hl=en& [google.com]

Hmm, and I'd find (or invent) some new benchmarks too.

Personally (3, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911612)

I'm much more interested in what happens when you hold the processing power constant and drop the price, as the price performance ratio drops.

I understand that it's not attractive for a company to look at lower margin items, but imagine if you could retail something like the original mini ITX boards in the price range of, say, $50 (it's currently about $110). Every garage inventor in the country would be creating new embedded computing applications.

Not just the boards... (1)

WoTG (610710) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911685)

Even if the boards are kept quite cheap, you have the problem of finding (cheap) appropriately sized cases. There just isn't the volume for these things, so the cost of a case is about 2x the cost of a generic mini-atx PC case. Of course you could build your own case... however, that requires a whole mess of tools and costs and time too.

Re:Not just the boards... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911790)

Who needs those fancy cases anyway, these would be great for controlling those laser beams attached to my sharks.
---
Yours,
Dr. Evil

Re:Not just the boards... (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912498)

. . .you could build your own case... however, that requires a whole mess of tools and costs and time too.

And who really wants to be an inventor if it means having to deal with a whole mess of tools and building shit, like . . .a box.

Maybe they just don't make inventors and engineers like they used to, but we used to be able to handle making a tin box pretty good.

KFG

Re:Personally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911705)

You are absolutely right, for right price I would be eating these things for breakfast.

I love the silence (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911646)

Got 3 of these now, a Nehemia and 2 Edens (566 and 800MHz fanless). I use them for making music and editing sound.
Even though they are not amazingly powerful I would never go back to some huge whirring pizza oven. No hard drives either, all boot from 4G IDE flash drives, one with a modified Dynebolic/Puppy linux crossbreed and the other I usually boot DSL (Damn small = fits on a 512M USB thumbdrive) Not a single moving part in the room! (unless you include me, and I don;t move much) All the sound files are on my file server in another part of the building.

ah, more via pain (4, Informative)

Blymie (231220) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911704)

I have had, and know so many Linux users that have had, problem with VIA chipsets. DMA issues, issues with lockups, VIA unwilling to communicate with Linux developers on resolving them.

Most recently an Asus board I owned last year, locked up as solid as a monkey if any heavy DMA activity occured. Worse, after doing hours of Google searches, I managed to find info stating that Windows drivers disabled various chip functions, so that the chipset could run in a stable function.

Apparently, from the slant of posts that I read, it was taken as fact that VIA often had issues with chipsets, and merely patched those issues with drivers. Typically, one buying a VIA board in Windows would end up with degradation of their chipset via drivers. Linux users were, however, not so lucky. VIA would ignore all pleas and requests about issues with their chipset, and the belief was that they did not want such issues with their chips to "make it to the press". Acknowledging that they had reduced chipset performance with drivers, would obviously not go over well. Chipsets are marketed to certain specs, and using drivers to "make it work", but not deliver those specs is clearly opening liability.

After reading this, I looked at issues I'd had over the years with graphic cards causing hardware lockups, boxes that would randomly reboot and the like. In almost all cases it tended to be with system that contained VIA chipsets. Further, I also found posts from many Myth users, complaining about DMA issues with their mini-itx boards.

VIA? I'd recommened everyone stay away.... I sure the heck do! Time isn't worth the $20 you save by walking away from an Intel or SiS chipset. Sure, these chipsets have issues, but Intel and SiS both seem a little more talkative with Linux developers.. and tend to produce a better product. VIA seems produce these flaws in almost _all_ of their chipsets.

My experience, sure. You'll have to make up your own mind. All I know is that $20 in savings is peanuts over 20 hours of debugging.. when the debugging is a useless task.

Re:ah, more via pain (1)

SRCShelton (9180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911901)

It's interesting that people report all of these problems with VIA chipsets, but that those same chips (or, at least, the southbridge) work just fine when used in desktop motherboards.

I suspect that the fact that VIA Eden processors (I'm not sure about the Nemehiahs) are not actually i686-compatible, lacking a CMOV (conditional move) instruction.

People then install super-whizzy latest Ubuntu (say) with uber-optimisations, and wonder why certian things break.

This may not always be the case, admittedly - but if you've got a chipset which just works for desktops but doesn't work when coupled to a processor with special requirements then I'd be tempted to suggest that it's software not meeting those requirements which causes problems, not the hardware directly.

Re:ah, more via pain (1)

Blymie (231220) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912533)


I'm not sure what you're getting at, but my personal experiences were all normal motherboards, with VIA chipsets (not cpus) on board. DMA issues effect motherboards and VIA chipsets, desktop or otherwise.

My recommendation, stay away from VIA until they clean up their act a bit.

Re:ah, more via pain (1)

vondo (303621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912625)

Really? My home PC and about 4 (of 8 or so) machines at work have died over the last 18 months. Every single one of them was a VIA KT333/KT400 based motherboard (and the MB was the likely cause). We still have plenty of Intel 440BX/PII/PIII systems running, but these VIA/AMD systems are dropping like flies.

Sure makes me wary (I've been buying i875 and NVidia NForce lately).

Re:ah, more via pain (1)

synonymous (707504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912218)

I for one have actually found my MII1200 under Debian fairly solid.

Heres the thread dated from Fri Sep 17, 2004 19:14.

Pain/Suffering [viaarena.com]

Re:ah, more via pain (1)

dfries (466073) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912654)

The diagram says 2D/3D for video. Does that include 3D acceleration under Linux? I know the SiS board I have with 315PRO doesn't have support for the 3D functions.

Is anyone else making a Mini-ITX board that has supported 3D under Linux?

Re:ah, more via pain (2, Interesting)

proxima (165692) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912658)

VIA? I'd recommened everyone stay away.... I sure the heck do! Time isn't worth the $20 you save by walking away from an Intel or SiS chipset. Sure, these chipsets have issues, but Intel and SiS both seem a little more talkative with Linux developers.. and tend to produce a better product. VIA seems produce these flaws in almost _all_ of their chipsets.

My experience, sure. You'll have to make up your own mind.


Not that anecdotes are all that meaningful to others, but I've had relatively good luck with VIA chipsets. Since I've had AMD processors in my last three motherboards, Intel was not an option. I haven't heard good things about SiS in general, but that was a while ago. NVIDIA is the newcomer, but to get some mb features working you need proprietary drivers (annoying enough for things like video, but I'm not interested in it for good chipset functionality).

Of four motherboards (an Epox and Abit built with KT133 chipset, and an Asus with a KT400 chipset, and a brand I don't remember with an old K6-2 450 Mhz cpu), two are still running (the Epox and the Asus). The other two experienced slow deaths (worked great for years, slowly became unstable), which I largely attribute to some improper venting of the towers causing heat damage.

In my experience, as a Linux user, it's best to seek out a chipset that is reported to work well with Linux. Then find a motherboard brand you trust. At this point all I'll go with is Asus (my experience with motherboards goes beyond my personal computers, and while I used to think Abit and Asus were equal in quality, I don't think Abit is as good anymore). I had to RMA two motherboards (with KT133 chipsets), before getting the Epox. I can't blame the chipset, though (unless there are serious quality differences in the way the chips themselves are manufactured, but I doubt it), since I've used KT133 with great luck for years since then. So while my percentages might not look great, the lesson here I think is that the motherboard manufacturer plays a more important role.

VIA, Intel, NVIDIA, SiS, whatever, you can probably find a particular chipset from each company that is reported to be stable with your operating system of choice. Once you've chosen that, don't skimp on the cost of the motherboard (and the cooling), and your experience should be a good one.

Re:ah, more via pain (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912827)

No problems here with an Asus A8V Deluxe (Via K8T800 Pro chipset) or Epox 8K3A+ (KT333+8233A chipset). In contrast, some friends have had problems with various nForce chipsets.

Your motherboard may vary.

DVI (2, Insightful)

yet another coward (510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911738)

I am disappointed to see the persistence of VGA rather than DVI. According to the page, an LVDS/DVI module will be available. All the tiny LCDs should move to the digital world, too. It would make them a little smaller and cooler.

Just Inserted a mini_ITX board ... (-1, Troll)

ta ma de (851887) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911748)

in my ass. I'm now a super cyborg with an 800 mhz back side bus.

When's the actual release? (4, Informative)

palfrey (198640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911769)

Given VIA's history of "rapid with press releases, incredibly slow with actual boards" (NanoITX anyone?), any bets on how long before we see available boards? I'm betting mid-2007 personally...

Re:When's the actual release? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911852)

Yeah, I got stomped when I delayed a project because the NanoITX was "real soon now" ... VIA is vaporware until it's actually in my hands...

Re:When's the actual release? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912058)

"NanoITX anyone?"

Yeah, those were a complete joke. I really wanted one for.... wow is it really 2 years!! since they first showed a photo of one? Talk about vapourware. And the most stupid thing of all is that now some stores claim to have them "in stock soon" they are almost twice the price of the Minis. Worst marketing VIA ever did.

I still say the Mini ITX rock though.

Re:When's the actual release? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912210)

Hopefuly, we will all play the brand new Duke Nukem Forever on our shiny NanoITX boxen very soon!

Why IDE? (1)

kahanamoku (470295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911773)

With the high availability of SATA drives (HDD & CD/DVD) these days I'm wondering why they still include IDE Connectors on these boards. Surely if they want to get the size down even further they could remove the IDE ports and use only SATA.

Re:Why IDE? (1)

corrosive_nf (744601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911841)

considering a search on newegg only brings up one match for a SATA optical drive, and its the infamous plextor thats really pata with a bridge screwed on the back, I will say they left them for optical drives.

Re:Why IDE? (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912010)

And don't forget IDE Flash drives!

Re:Why IDE? (1)

kahanamoku (470295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912662)

MSI Have SATA CD/DVD ROMS [cdrlabs.com]

There's also the USB / Firewire options for initial setup for those who dont need optical drives in their mini PC's

Re:Why IDE? (4, Informative)

Bertie (87778) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912047)

Have you tried installing Windows XP on a computer with an SATA hard drive? Oh man. Pain. You actually have to kick the thing into life using drivers loaded off a FLOPPY DISK. Or at least, you did the last time I tried it. I bought all these shiny new components and had to borrow a floppy drive to get it running! In the end, I binned it and went Gentoo instead.

That would explain to me why these machines don't go SATA yet - most people are building their own systems with them, I'd imagine.

Re:Why IDE? (1)

corrosive_nf (744601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912298)

Not if you slipstream the sata drivers onto a windows cd.

Re:Why IDE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912649)

ever try to install Linux on an all sata system, I just did and it took adding an IDE optical drive to get it to take anything... five linux distros later I finally got a functional OS. I hate to interupt your trashing of Microsoft with some facts but linux has sata issues too.

Yes I have (2, Interesting)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912798)

Gentoo 2005.1 installed with no problems on the SATA-based Dell PowerEdge 850 (or was it 830???) I set up for him.

Same with my SATA-based Athlon X2 server.

Gentoo 2006.0 was flawless on my new Inspiron E1705.

No floppy req'd for my Win install on no-RAID SATA (3, Informative)

MojoStan (776183) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912695)

Have you tried installing Windows XP on a computer with an SATA hard drive? Oh man. Pain. You actually have to kick the thing into life using drivers loaded off a FLOPPY DISK.
I have installed WinXP and Win2000 on SATA drives (without RAID), and a floppy disk was not required. The floppy install method might still be required to install Windows on SATA RAID (I haven't tried it), which would suck. But from my experience (with Intel motherboards) a floppy is NOT required for installing Windows XP/2000 on a SATA hard disk because (from my experience) the motherboard BIOS settings (not a Windows driver) determines whether you can boot/install Windows on a SATA drive.

Some nForce motherboards I've seen have SATA RAID mode enabled in the BIOS by default, which might require a floppy. One motherboard I installed Windows XP on, the Intel D915GUX [intel.com] , had the SATA boot option disabled by default in the BIOS. After enabling SATA boot and choosing SATA mode without RAID [intel.com] , WinXP w/SP2 installed without a problem.

Maybe SP2 needs to be on the installation CD, but I doubt it because I'm pretty sure I installed Win2000 w/SP4 on a SATA drive (Intel D945GT motherboard) without using a floppy (this was a while ago).

Re:Why IDE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912708)

If SATA is supported natively in the BIOS, then I don't think you need a floppy drive to get the drivers setup.

Atleast thats how it was in the two systems with native SATA support that I installed XP on.

too slow to boot (4, Interesting)

tota (139982) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911881)

I've toyed with these boards on more than one occasion for fun and profit, and the thing that really prevents you from using them in the embedded space is the amount of time it takes to boot the bloody thing.
Around 30s at the best of times to get to a shell with init=/bin/bash and only a little less if you use the linux bios. Disappointing to say the least, no decent set-top box can take more than 5, maybe 10 seconds to start.
Even using suspend to boot directly into a running system is not going to help since most of this time is going to be spent in the bios.

Not to mention that some boards come with a compact flash, but you can't boot from it! What's the f... point?

Thin clients (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911896)

"They target thin clients.."

What about those of us who aren't so thin? Have they had problems with the not so thin using their boards?

Database benchmarks? (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911973)

I'm also curious, how well would this benchmark on something like MySQL (assume its not being used as a media player). I have an iMac G5 which has constantly running background apps. I'd rather get a smaller, less power consuming system for the task. Any opinons?

I've toyed with the idea of getting one of these for a streaming audio player. I'm about to replace my stereo system and I figure why get all the fancy equipment when I'm going to be popping CD's, DVD's and MP3s into the thing .... might as well get a computer! Plus I can use it as a PVR box and control it from my TV.

somewhat disappointed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912289)

I've been waiting for the C7 boards to ship for a long time. My particular application of interest doesn't need a lot of CPU time but I do need to do a fair amount of encryption work -- so the integrated PadLock stuff should suffice. Plus the C7 now supports the NX MMU bit which I consider a requirement.

HOWEVER, two problems:
    * first they're just now "about to ship" and I've been waiting for quite awhile. Oh well, I guess that's water under the bridge now. If I had known how long they would take to reach market I probably would have looked into some of the other options quite awhile ago.
    * more importantly my application needs a LOT of RAM. All of the older Via-based mini-ITX boards were limited to 1G of RAM. The biggest thing I was excited about in the CN700 chipset is that it supports 2G of RAM -- still not great but "enough" for what I need I guess. But all of the CN700-based boards I've seen announced in the last few weeks are still limited to 1G! Maddening, I tell you. Does anyone know of a CN700+C7 mini-ITX board that can actually take 2G of RAM?

Woo, im in the future!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912459)

Right now I'm working on similar boards with a dual core via processor. Each core 1ghz.

Re:Woo, im in the future!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912501)

my bad, those boards have a fan you cant hear 90% of the time, but they do have a fan and heatsink.

No hardware MPEG4 decoding (1, Redundant)

TummyX (84871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912526)

Damn. The SP line of ITX boards used the CN400 chipset which supported MPEG4 decoding (in linux at least). Looks like the CN700 will only do MPEG2 which is great for DVDs but not so good for DIVX/XVID.
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