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Via Launches New Line of Mini-ITX Boards 197

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the smaller-is-better dept.
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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Via Launches New Line of Mini-ITX Boards

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

    by Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) on Monday March 13, 2006 @06:37PM (#14911477) Journal
    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...
  • Hardware Specs (Score:4, Informative)

    by slick_rick (193080) * <{ofni.llewor} {ta} {todhsalsrwr}> on Monday March 13, 2006 @06:41PM (#14911513) Homepage Journal
    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:Cool but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by marcelC (592689) on Monday March 13, 2006 @06:47PM (#14911570) Homepage
    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.
  • by michrech (468134) on Monday March 13, 2006 @06:50PM (#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:Cool but... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2006 @06:57PM (#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!
  • I love the silence (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2006 @06:58PM (#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.
  • Re:Hardware Specs (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2006 @07:03PM (#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".
  • ah, more via pain (Score:5, Informative)

    by Blymie (231220) * on Monday March 13, 2006 @07:05PM (#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.
  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Monday March 13, 2006 @07:05PM (#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.
  • by palfrey (198640) on Monday March 13, 2006 @07:14PM (#14911769) Homepage
    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...
  • by hackstraw (262471) * on Monday March 13, 2006 @07:28PM (#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:Why IDE? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bertie (87778) on Monday March 13, 2006 @07:51PM (#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.
  • ...and no (Score:3, Informative)

    by phorm (591458) on Monday March 13, 2006 @08:36PM (#14912307) Journal
    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 (Score:5, Informative)

    by metamatic (202216) on Monday March 13, 2006 @09:08PM (#14912463) Homepage Journal
    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.)
  • by MojoStan (776183) on Monday March 13, 2006 @09:51PM (#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).

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