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VIA's New Nehemiah M10000 Processor Reviewed 265

Posted by timothy
from the low-power-madness dept.
Joseph Wharton writes "Mini-ITX.com has a review of VIA's new Nehemiah M10000 EPIA-M motherboard and processor. Some of the new features include a full-speed floating-point unit (finally!), SSE instructions, 64KB of full-speed L2 cache, and (get this) a hardware-based random number generator. Also, there's IO/APIC support in these new procs, potentially paving the way for dual EPIA boards."
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VIA's New Nehemiah M10000 Processor Reviewed

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  • by JeffSh (71237) <jeffslashdot@mTOKYO0m0.org minus city> on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:00PM (#5992256)
    The name of the processor and chipset shall be inversely porportionate to the actual size of the chipset and chip.

    imagine, when boards are self contained on one microchip, the name will be the "ultra gigaplexor 90000000 duplex teranaxor"
    • by GQuon (643387)
      imagine, when boards are self contained on one microchip, the name will be the "ultra gigaplexor 90000000 duplex teranaxor"

      Perhaps they need somebody to end the madness? (One of) the first electronic computers was called ENIAC. Then came the UNIVAC and the ILLIAC, etc. So somebody called their computer MANIAC, and ended that tradition.
      I like to think of Windows 98 as being derived from the MANIAC, while Windows XP is made BY maniacs [alltheweb.com].

      Serioulsy though, I think microcontrollers is a kind of fusion of CPU/RA
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:00PM (#5992260)
    Now I can have a complete system failure
  • by microbob (29155) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:00PM (#5992264)
    I used the 800mhz Eden to put together a great Jukebox. The digital coax out to my receiver works like a charm.

    Having all my music on-line and ready to be played on any PC in the house is pretty nice.
    • by buffer-overflowed (588867) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:03PM (#5992299) Journal
      That's their target market, and boy are these things great for uses like that. 17cm x 17cm footprint and decent media performance.

      IIRC a lot of "next-gen" DVD players will be using these mainboards, and they've started putting things like hardware mpeg decoding/etc. into them. They're ideal for digital jukebox/emulator/dvd player/pvr combo systems.
      • I threw it in a case like this:

        -> http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item =2729698897&category=3669

        I got 2 cases for $25 (including shipping), got a 80gig HD, wireless adapter and IR keyboard.

        The s-video out leave a little be desired, but it is probably my TV.

        M.B.
      • by buffer-overflowed (588867) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:11PM (#5992372) Journal
        I forgot, don't expect one of these to run Doom 3 or UT2003. They will run office, and they will play DVDs. The earlier ones required no active cooling, it's still an extremely low power chip however.

        I found the M10000 for $182 at directron [directron.com], and here's what you get for your money:
        VIA C3 1GHz processor
        10/100 Ethernet
        Firewire
        TV-OUT (S-video, RCA(PAL and NTSC))
        6 Channel Audio

        Not a bad deal, methinks. Probably can be found cheaper, but I didn't want to look too hard.
        • by seafoodbuffet (527069) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:37PM (#5992576)
          Anyone considering a M10000 should read this [mini-itx.com] first. Basically, VIA released two separate boards under the M10000 name. The second of which is the only one to feature the Nehemiah core. The first series (the one from directron.com) still uses the older Ezra-T core. Right now, there's not many vendors who can reliably provide Nehemiah processors. The only places I've seen are idot.com and monarchcomputer.com.
        • My 'main machine' (this one) is a C3/866 with lots of DDR memory, I built it back at the start of last year. It takes very serious load to make it feel slow, and it dissipates very little heat. I think you could get away with passive cooling with an 800, but not with mine.

          I suppose something running at that speed was state-of-the-art back around 2001. I have no need or plans to upgrade for at least a year, maybe longer.

          obvious disclaimer - I do not game.
      • IIRC a lot of "next-gen" DVD players will be using these mainboards, and they've started putting things like hardware mpeg decoding/etc. into them. They're ideal for digital jukebox/emulator/dvd player/pvr combo systems.

        I don't know that these little boxes are quite powerful enough at this point to be ready for PVR applications. This is especially true if you're talking about encoding (recording a show) and decoding (watching a show) at the same time. Tom's [tomshardware.com]
        had a nice little VIA ITX test a little while
  • 64KB cache? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Animats (122034) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:01PM (#5992276) Homepage
    That sounds a bit small.
  • Book of Nehemiah: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bugsmalli (638337) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:02PM (#5992283)
    Wasn't sure about Nehemiah, so googled and found this:
    Book of Nehemiah:
    This book continues the history of the children of the captivity, the Jews lately returned out of Babylon. We have a full account of Nehemiah's labours for them, in these his commentaries: wherein he records not only the works of his hands, but the very workings of his heart, inserting many devout reflections and ejaculations, which are peculiar to his writing. Twelve years he was the tirshatha, or governor of Judea, under the same Artaxerxes that gave Ezra his commission. This book relates his concern for Jerusalem and commission to go thither, chap. 1, 2. His building the wall of Jerusalem, notwithstanding much opposition, chap. 3, 4. His redressing the grievances of the people, chap. 5. His finishing the wall, chap. 6. The account he took of the people, chap. 7. His calling the people to read the law, fast and pray, and renew their covenant, chap. 8 - 10. He peoples Jerusalem and settles the tribe of Levi, chap. 11, 12. He reforms divers abuses, chap. 13. This was the last historical book that was written, as Malachi, the last prophetical book of the old testament.
    • Re:Book of Nehemiah: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by stratjakt (596332)
      Twelve years he was the tirshatha, or governor of Judea, under the same Artaxerxes that gave Ezra his commission.

      The Ezra-T is the name of the chip Nehemiah is 'succeeding' (the sub 1 GHz model).

      Maybe that has some sort of meaning, I guess.

      I had no idea there were so many Jews in Hong Kong. (This is not a racial troll, I seriously have never seen a chinese Jew in my life)

      • Re:Book of Nehemiah: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Nehemiah and Ezra are prophets of the old testament of the bible.
        They both have a book named after them.

        The CEO of VIA is a fundamentalist christian and that is why he uses biblical names.
        So he's not Jewish, but are bible consists of the Jewish holy books and the new testament.

        And you gotta admit those Jewish names sound much more exotic then "James" or "John" (Though if we didn't translate those names they would be in Jewish "Ya'akov" and "Jochanan" respectively, which also sounds cool).
      • So will the 2ghz chip be named Esther?
      • I had no idea there were so many Jews in Hong Kong


        VIA is based in Taiwan, and I believe Chinese Christians have something for the Old Testament.

        I always felt VIA chip naming is overtly OT - from Joshua, to Gideon, to Ezra and now Nehemiah...

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I had no idea there were so many Jews in Hong Kong. (This is not a racial troll, I seriously have never seen a chinese Jew in my life)

        I had the same question you did. One day, a friend and I went into a Chinese restaurant to have some lunch. I asked the waiter, "Do you have Chinese Jews?" He answered, "No Chinese Jews. We have apple joos, orange joos, prune joos, but no Chinese joos."

        Thank you.
      • Christians also hold the Old Testament (as only Christians call it) in high regard, so it is unusual that you would conclude that there were necessarily Jews in Hong Kong based on the name of a microprocessor.
    • by Indy1 (99447) <spamtrap@fuckedregime.com> on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:26PM (#5992497) Homepage
      The ceo of Via, Wen-chi Chen, is a Fundlementist Christian, so as a result this is the name source for many of their products (joshua, sameul, nehemiah).
      • Where are my mod points when I need them? You call Christianity a myth now, but even God can forgive such a despicable act if you would only believe and quit ignoring the evidence.
        • The greeks, egyptians, sumerians and all other people of the world believed, in their time, that their gods were real and their rulers. These civilizations passed and now we call their beliefs myth. Why can't someone call the stories in Bible as myths, if they suppose that these stories aren't backed by real/historical/archeological facts? People have different views from the world, and these views should be respected. The world that we live today is a proof that intolerance isn't the best path.
      • by David Chappell (671429) on Monday May 19, 2003 @02:52PM (#5993169) Homepage

        Nehemiah was a 6th or 5th century BCE govenor of Judea during a time when Judea was under Medo-Persian rule. I would describe Joshua, Samuel, and Nehemiah as figures from Jewish history rather than Christian mythology.

        Of course, in the 19th century it was popular to assert that public figures mentioned in the Bible are figments of the writers' imagination, but this view seems to be largely discredited. The names of too many of these 'fictituous characters' showed up on monuments and public records uncovered by archeologists.

    • by lpret (570480) <lpret42&hotmail,com> on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:33PM (#5992554) Homepage Journal
      I'm waiting for the 3 Ghz Jesus model to come out. Apparently it would be able "to do miracles!" I don't know about this marketing hype sometimes, you kind of have to see it to believe it.

      Signing off,
      Doubting Thomas
  • Isnt this the one that can reshape itself to fit into any slot, or socket... or was that the t-m320000... I forget...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Nah, that's the t-1000 you're thinking of... *har har*
  • New Via (Score:3, Interesting)

    by _Smacndeez_ (217293) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:03PM (#5992296) Homepage Journal
    The new CPU sounds cool, one question, with the 'random number generator' is this supposed to be paving the way for Via and 'Secure Computing'?
    *sighs* Oh well, I could use a new media b0x3n.
    • Re:New Via (Score:5, Informative)

      by tjrw (22407) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:16PM (#5992406) Homepage
      A hardware random-number generator is useful for crypto. If you've ever tried porting something like OpenSSH to a platform that didn't have decent RNG support (i.e. no /dev/random or /dev/urandom like Linux has), you'll have run into the fun and games of trying to come up with a decent random source.

      Hardware support for RNG is a "Good Thing(TM)", and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the "Trusted Computing Platform" or whatever the DRM flavour of the day happens to be ! :-)
      • On a side note though, I've wondered why it is that CPU vendors haven't been able to integrate random number generation into the CPU itself. Intel had their RNG built into one of their chipsets (I think it was the 810 or 820?), but AFAIK their current chipsets don't support it anymore (correct me if I'm wrong). Anyways, it's always bugged me that there's not some sort of RNG instruction that fills the destination register or memory location with a randomly generated integer/floating point value.
  • by Organic_Info (208739) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:07PM (#5992322)
    One would hope they don't host their site on a mini-itx box :)
  • by bpland (529369) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:07PM (#5992337)
    It's almost dead but here is the page about the CPU.. interesting. hehe

    "Nehemiah is the next generation C3 CPU, and features a number of improvements over the Ezra-T C3 used in all previous EPIAs. It has The 20.5 million transistors, and uses a 0.13 micron process. For comparison, a Barton Athlon or Northwood Pentium 4 have about 55 million transistors, and recent GPUs have over 100 million transistors.

    The Nehemiah is designed to work at clock speeds of 1GHz and beyond - the Ezra-T is designed at up to about 1GHz.

    Nehemiah has a die size of 52mm2 - the world's smallest x86 processor. It has been designed to minimize power consumption and optimise heat dissipation - VIA call this "Coolstream". Some active cooling is still required, but not very much. Let's hope for a Nehemiah Eden C3 version.

    The Nehemiah features SSE instructions instead of the 3DNow! instructions featured on previous C3s. This should bring enhanced performance in 3D applications, which are optimised for more modern SIMD instruction sets. SSE optimised image processing applications should also benefit.

    Full Speed FPU - the Nehemiah has a full speed floating point unit for the first time. The Ezra-T has a half-speed FPU. Floating point calculations are used heavily in 3D rendering, multimedia, and streaming applications.

    Enhanced 64KB Full-Speed Exclusive L2 cache with 16-way associativity. An exclusive L2 cache gives a larger effective total cache size as it doesn't replicate the contents of the L1 cache. The more cache available, the more chance there is that program loops can run in cache and not comparatively slow main memory.

    StepAhead Advanced Branch Prediction - Looks ahead and gathers the data needed to optimally run applications

    A hardware based random number generator (RNG) has been added. This creates true random numbers from the random electrical noise on the chip. This is of much use in security applications, allowing a strong cryptographic key to be generated. VIA call this the "PadLock Data Encryption Engine".

    Future Nehemiahs will feature IO/APIC support. An Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller (APIC) provides multi-processor interrupt management - dual processor EPIA anyone?

    The Nehemiah is available in EBGA or Socket 370 packages - both are low profile and require less board real estate."
    • Nehemiah has a die size of 52mm2 - the world's smallest x86 processor.

      Not quite, the 8086 is smaller (as is the 8088) although it is smaller than the 286, and much smaller than comparable x86 CPUs...

    • by default luser (529332) on Monday May 19, 2003 @02:07PM (#5992834) Journal
      "StepAhead Advanced Branch Prediction - Looks ahead and gathers the data needed to optimally run applications"

      Finally! A WinChip that doesn't insist on doing things the old-fashioned way.

      Three years go when VIA merged the Cyrix product name with the Winchip line, they touted the WinChip's lack of Out-Of-Order-Execution and use of Static Branch Prediciton as "features".

      This was puported to save power and make the die smaller. Funny to see them do a complete 360 only 3 years later, after their castrated chip has failed to attract a single Tier 1 vendor.

      The Cyrix MII sold better than the WinChip / VIA C3; at least Compaq and Emachines were selling systems based on it back in the day. It sold where the WinChip couldn't, because it actually delivered on being both reasonably powerful and dirt-cheap. The WinChip could claim to be dirt-cheap, but reasonably powerful...welll...

      So, after so long a wait, do we finally have a winner? A low power chip that can actually play a Divx movie? Perhaps they could get rid of that hardware DVD decoder too, a feature other systems havn't needed since the Celeron 400 / K6-2 450.
  • What is your experience with VIA motherboards?

    What about the VIA 82C686B Southbridge? (Any AmigaOne owners?)

    ADV:
    Subscribers! Post your First Posts before anybody else: Here. [slashdot.org]
    • the 686B southbridge is a bit old, but its pretty solid for the most part. Supports Ata-100 and works fine in linux.
    • I have a VIA P4X400 chipset. from my exp its crap compared to the intel chipset in my last MB(same cpu and cards just new MB), for one if you wish to run winxp you have to install the via 4-1 drivers failure to do so right away after installing XP will result in lockups every few min. also the speed is not constent its oftin so slow it feals like my p4 2ghz is a 200mhz. Under linux I get all sorts of strange problems not counting the ones related to agp 3.0, like many distro's wont connect to the network li
    • I have that chipset in my Abit KT7A-RAID board. I've had no problems with it. It's been perfectly reliable on Windows and Linux since I purchased it, which was about 2 years ago. The key is proper driver installation on Windows machines. With Linux, it's all automated. I've got no experience with Amiga systems and this southbridge.

      Well... Wait a sec. I did experience some problems with these chipsets and ATAPI ZIP drives on another motherboard. But I believe that VIA resolved those problems. Our Z
    • by molarmass192 (608071) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:35PM (#5992566) Homepage Journal
      Have an EPIA 800MHz, works great for MP3s but bought it for a media center. Not enough "nuts" for decoding MP2 video in real time. The fullspeed FPU on the 10000 would certainly help in that department. Bogos show up as 1200 but that's only for 1+1 stuff, not 1+1.1. The best part of these little boards is they're dead quiet and generate miniscule amounts of heat. For that reason alone, I'm looking into the 10000 as a replacement for my current EPIA.
    • What about the VIA 82C686B Southbridge? (Any AmigaOne owners?)

      I've had no issues with it on a Biostar M7MIA (where it's paired with an AMD 761 northbridge). I did a clean WinXP install on it the other day (swapped it back into my computer when an MSI K7D Master started acting up), and everything worked right off the bat.

  • by seletz (192331) <stefan.eletzhofer@eletztrick . d e> on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:09PM (#5992349) Homepage
    I dont know for sure, but I would not take that one for strong cryptographic stuff.

    I mean, once they have a analysis of the possible weaknesses of the HW, you have a big problem ;)

    • Yeah, but you could use it to seed a strong SOFTWARE random number generator.
    • by eet23 (563082) <eet23@cam.acGINSBERG.uk minus poet> on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:24PM (#5992483) Journal
      Doing it in hardware, they can take advantage of small random electrical currents. It will probably be much closer to true random than anything you can do in software.
    • by Jeremiah Blatz (173527) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:56PM (#5992730) Homepage
      Typically, you wouldn't use a HW RNG (Random Number Generator) to generate random numbers, you'd use it to generate entropy. You'd then mix it in with other sources of entropy using a cryptographically strong hash, and use that output as your random number.

      The way good OS's generate random numbers is by accumulating a pool of entropy. They typically use a wide variety of inputs and mix them together. That way, if an attacker is able to observe or predict some of the inputs, there's still some more than they can't break. Unfortunately most computers only have expernal sources of randomness; things like ethernet packet timing or keyboard/mouse movement. These things are relatively easy to observe and/or tamper with. (As an aside, does anyone know if any OS uses things like processor temperature/fan speed as entropy inputs?) The on-chip RNG is may not be a really excellent source of randomness, but it's very hard for an outside observer to monitor. (And, it's quite possible that it really is an excellent source of randomness.) Even if it is weak, it's another addition to the entropy pool, and thus strictly good.
    • by morcheeba (260908) on Monday May 19, 2003 @02:00PM (#5992770) Journal
      Cryptography Research has a whitepaper on the RNG used in via's C3 Nehemiah processor: summary [cryptography.com] and full [cryptography.com] version. It's a start - it doesn't look like a full FIPS 140 certification [nist.gov], but I haven't looked at it in detail yet.
    • by rgmoore (133276) * <glandauer@charter.net> on Monday May 19, 2003 @02:22PM (#5992928) Homepage

      Actually, the analysis [cryptography.com] I've seen suggests that the HW RNG is very good. It can generate RNGs at 30-50 Mb/s, with an estimated 0.78-0.99 bits of entropy per output bit. With a built in "whitener", it can generate 4-9 Mb/s with an estimated 0.99+ bits of entropy per bit. If you use it as an entropy pool to feed a strong PRNG, which is the recommended mode of use, it should be a very effective source of cryptographically useful randomness.

    • I mean, once they have a analysis of the possible weaknesses of the HW, you have a big problem ;)

      Testing goes something like
      1) Get fscking big sample
      2) Run staistical analysis, typically frequency analysis. If no patterns show up (e.g. 60Hz from power supply) you're home free. No fancy algorithm analysis needed, not much to exploit really.

      Also, in a worst case scenario you can fall back to software. Though I suppose that a DRM system could get compromised if the "random" data aren't random though.

      Kjella
  • by rgm3 (530335) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:10PM (#5992368) Homepage
    Conclusion

    The Nehemiah M10000 is a very welcome speedbump to previous EPIA Ms. The full speed FPU and SSE instructions give it that extra boost needed to playback any media type we could find - without optimisations or quality tradeoffs.

    Although we have benchmarked the Nehemiah as fully as possible (and gained some useful comparisons with earlier EPIAs), it must be remembered that this is not everything that the EPIA is about. In use, all the EPIAs are nippier than their benchmarks would suggest, due to their supporting chipsets. EPIA Ms (of which the Nehemiah M10000 is of course the current ruler) are powerful multimedia playback machines. An EPIA M in a low profile case looks great next to a TV, where a regular PC or even Cube SFFPC will look out of place, overpowered and overpriced for the task. Add a PVR card and you have a perfect HTPC.

    As an inexpensive upgrade path for ageing x86 machines, EPIAs are ideal - schools, libraries and internet cafes can benefit from low noise and low power consumption machines. Under Linux, even the EPIA 5000 can perform tasks such as file serving with ease all at the cost of a SCSI card. EPIAs have accidentally gained a following in the modding community (witness the many projects on this site). Although such mods probably represent a small proportion of sales, they show the versatility that this form factor has, and the enthusiasm of its owners. No other manufacturer offers a range of mainstream low noise motherboards at this size and price with these facilities. Other manufacturers will be watching with interest.
  • by rizawbone (577492) <slashdot.sleepdep@org> on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:18PM (#5992426) Homepage
    ...the "Better Than Ezra".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:24PM (#5992479)
    Wow. given an infinite number of these processors and an infinite amount of time, these things could write code that's identical to SCO's.
  • But what is it?
  • link1 [216.239.53.100]
    und another, auf deutsch
    link2 [216.239.53.100]
  • by mbourgon (186257) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:31PM (#5992535) Homepage
    Dual processor boards have already been announced - it's been eagerly awaited in the MythTV camp, as it should allow dual-tuner support. And since it's low power, you won't need a Zalman/Thermalright heat sink and a specialty fan to make it quiet.
    • Not sure what good a dual board is going to do in this case, especially for MythTV. As it is, the older Ezra boards had a hard time PLAYING an MPEG-2 encoded DVD without relying on the dedicated decoder. Encoding requires even more processing power. Two chips just aren't going to cut it. Compare the 1ghz Via chips to 500mhz Intel/Amd parts.
  • by iamkrinkle (585605) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:32PM (#5992540)
    before everyone starts comparing this to p4 or athlon, it's not meant to compare to them. this chip is only 1 ghz, but the selling point is it's low power consumption and it doesn't run too hot (the slower cpu's use only passive cooling). So yeah, you're not going to be playing doom 3 on it, but you can do cool things like put it in your car [via.com.tw] or have a pc that is (almost) completely silent. So for around 200 you get a mobo/cpu/video card/sound card/etc... not too bad of a deal if you ask me...
  • by MikeD83 (529104) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:38PM (#5992582)
    VIA Press Release, April 15, 2003 [via.com.tw]

    Notable features:
    • 10% drop in power consumption
    • 50% drop in system noise
    • Integrated MPEG-2 decoder
    • ATA-133
    • 10/100 Mbps Ethernet
    • S-Video and RCA tv-Out
    • S/PDif digital audio connection
    • 1 avaliable PCI slot
  • by docbrown42 (535974) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:43PM (#5992627) Homepage
    and (get this) a hardware-based random number generator

    Oh, so it comes with a pair of fuzzy dice? What about a "Type R" sticker, so it'll SEEM faster?

  • by LocalHero (626750) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:49PM (#5992669)
    I think it is a great thing that a company has started to make low power cpus. Imagine all those P4 and AMD cpus out there that waits for Word to tell them to do something. You dont need 3ghz for that. A modern P4 or AMD processor uses about 70W of energy for nothing.

    Hey if you could reduce that to 35W you are not only geting 35W less for the cpu you are also lowering the power consumtion on the air condition. An office building that starts to take the power consumtion serius could save lots of cash on electrical bill and probably some on the environment to :)

  • by pangloss (25315) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:54PM (#5992713) Journal
    anyone know if the optional lvds connector they mention in the review could somehow be used with a dvi-d equipped display?
  • by mdechene (607874) on Monday May 19, 2003 @01:55PM (#5992717)
    A hardware based random number generator (RNG) has been added. This creates true random numbers from the random electrical noise on the chip. This is of much use in security applications, allowing a strong cryptographic key to be generated. VIA call this the "PadLock Data Encryption Engine".

    VIA Engineers also note that this was previously a set of registers that they just couldn't iron the crosstalk kinks out of. As such, it was rebranded a feature in classic computer tradition.
  • I have been using it for a couple weeks (actually the Ezra and not Nehemiah version). SuSe Linux 8.1 Pro 256MB Ram 80GB HD It runs quiet and I have been very surprised how much I like it. This is a very nice board, very quiet and unobtrusive, extremely reasonably priced. I use it to do family geneology stuff at relatives houses (old people love it cause it is small, quiet, and appears like a DVD player hooked to a flat screen (15"LCD) TV. Also, is a very nice MP3 player. If I need a powerful computer,
  • have a moon rock needle?
  • I spent the weekend building one into a small toolbox. e-machine PS, 3.5in HD, short DVD drive, ATI TV Wonder VE, with room in the top tray for cables and a wireless KB.

    It's a portable Tivo/DVD/Divx/MP3/low end game/whatever box.

    Damn quiet too...
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Monday May 19, 2003 @02:36PM (#5993025)
    The Atari 800 had one in 1978. And Commodore 64 programmers were used to using some values from the sound hardware for the same purpose. It's funny how some ideas go away for a long time, only to resurface after most people have forgotten it.
    • And the Atari 800 also had the SIO (serial-input-output) port on it too: a universal connector for all peripherals outside of joysticks. They even had a hub for the SIO port as well. Its no wonder that the engineer responsible for the SIO port now works for Intel and holds co-patents for USB, an updated idea from Atari's heyday...
  • Can anybody with a clue comment on whether this latest relase would be able to run fanless (e.g. using a hustechnologies.net case), and would the linux/XFree drivers be able to support widescreen resolutions (the review at mini-itx.com says only traditional resolutions are supported, but this might be different in the linux/XFree world)?
  • I host a dozen or so websites on a little mini-ITX server I bought last fall for $200. Two of the sites have been slashdotted in that time, and the server cruised right through them maxing out at a few percent CPU consumption. (Static pages, of course!)

    See the uptime report here [netcraft.com].

  • by phliar (87116) on Monday May 19, 2003 @04:04PM (#5993704) Homepage
    On the Via Arena Forum for EPIA-M Linux support [viaarena.com] the outlook is bleak. Via seem reluctant to fully support Linux, in particular with the MPEG hardware and the EHCI USB. One person trying to develop a distribution for EPIA-M says:
    The EPIA-M's aren't very well supported on Linux at all. The bare minimum will work, but there is a lot of work to be done, especially on VIA's part.

    ...
    VIA should not claim that the EPIA-M is Linux compatible, unless it is actively supporting the Linux community by improving support to at least a level of being able to take advantage of most of the hardware's features. I hope VIA becomes more actively involved in the future.
    Here's the complete summary of hardware support for EPIA-M by "jonthorpe" on March 10, 2003:
    USB 2.0: I have been in contact with David Brownwell for the past two months in an attempt to resolve the issues with the VT8235's EHCI support in general. Most people will experience system hangs when they attempt to use the EHCI controller, although it is improving. VIA has apparently provided David with hardware, but with little support. As of late, the problem seems to extend beyond the VT8235's EHCI - on another VT8235 based board, it was revealed that there are IRQ/PCI issues causing any USB 2.0 card (e.g. an NEC which is usually stable) to hang.

    Audio: ALSA should work for the EPIA-Ms with their ALC650, but the OSS drivers are still a better option in my opinion. The original EPIAs will experience problems with ALSA (crackly sound on new versions of ALSA, no sound at all on previous). The OSS driver in newer kernels (e.g. 2.4.21-pre5-acX) works well with OSS playback, but there are two major problems:

    1. ESound does not work. This limits the user to only one stream to pass through the sound card. This can generate problems with applications such as web browsers which use the Flash plugin (especially if another sound application is already running - e.g. XMMS)
    2. Recording does not work whatsoever. This is a major problem that I am yet to talk to Alan about, but there is absolutely no recording with OSS drivers. ALSA drivers have more success with this, but the audio quality is poor.
    VGA: This will work nicely if you're running one of VIA's supported distribution versions. This is not good for people like myself who insist on using updated kernels to work with other features of their hardware. This limits us to using the Slim driver for the CLE266, removing MPEG2 hardware acceleration. I am developing a distribution that is to be bundled with EPIA-M systems, and even after mentioning that, sending two emails to VIA and signing up on the driver request page has proven fruitless and are completely ignored.

    I haven't tested this myself, but I believe there are problems with VIA's CLE266 drivers when it comes to virtual screens. The driver simply cannot handle them.

    NIC: This works flawlessly, with the via-rhine driver. There are no problems to report.

    FireWire: I have no idea about this one either, but I can say that the host controller is at least recognised by the Linux driver. I'd love to hear from anyone who has tested the EPIA-M's firewire on Linux.

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