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Via Launches New Line of Mini-ITX Boards 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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Via Launches New Line of Mini-ITX Boards

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2006 @06:34PM (#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.
  • Not too exciting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jandrese ( 485 ) * <> on Monday March 13, 2006 @06:44PM (#14911539) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • DVI (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yet another coward ( 510 ) < minus poet> on Monday March 13, 2006 @07:10PM (#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.
  • by TopSpin ( 753 ) * on Monday March 13, 2006 @07:58PM (#14912089) Journal
    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.


  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @09:17PM (#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.

  • by Malor ( 3658 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:34PM (#14912901) Journal
    The KT133 was terrible. You must not work your computers very hard. The KT133 was a disaster in all respects, and it gave the early Athlons an undeserved bad name. The CPUs were excellent, but the boards were complete shit, no matter who made them. A quick search on Google for KT133 problems shows NINETY THOUSAND hits.

    The KT266 and 333 were pretty good as Windows desktops. But I'm using one as a Linux server now, and it's... not great. I have to run it with APIC disabled. Turning on APIC (in recent 2.6 kernels) causes all kinds of problems with software RAID. And I don't get very good throughput; using an Intel gigabit network adapter, I'm lucky to push 150 megabits onto a (very fast) SCSI array. And that's with no other load _at all_. Even pulling or pushing to a tmpfs, the absolute best I can manage is about 200Mb. In theory, I ought to be able to get north of 300 on vanilla PCI, but the chipset doesn't seem to have very good throughput. (this is without jumbo frames, but with a lot of other optimizations on the Linux side; I get similar results from both Windows and Mac gigabit clients.)

    NVidia chipsets are pretty good, with the exception of their IDE and Ethernet drivers. The most recent Ethernet drivers instantly bluescreen my DFI Lanparty NF3 250 machine. The older version works, but you have to disable all TCP offloading and firewalling for full stability. WoW in particular does _not_ like offloading. And the IDE driver is slow and buggy... it's best to stick with standard Windows drivers.

    That sounds pretty damning, but it's really quite good, other than that. But keep in mind I've only run this board with Windows. The KT333 I mention above worked fine in Windows too, but isn't so hot in Linux.

    Intel may be behind in the CPU department, but their chipsets remain the best...extremely solid. In the high end, the NForce4 Professional on Opterons is supposedly good... but for low- to mid-range servers, where I won't be around to check on a system regularly, I'd much rather do Intel.

    Then again, I have a personal Intel server with an 865 chipset that's hosted somewhere in Texas. It kernel panics randomly on every version of 2.6.15 I've tried, but is absolutely solid on 2.6.14 and earlier.

    Even Intel hardware is no panacea against the crappy 2.6 kernel development process.
  • by essdodson ( 466448 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:45PM (#14912950) Homepage
    Besides being a troll, It's also my understanding that many of the apps car pc users enjoy aren't available in Linux nor are similar replacements. Specificly in the area of map applications that tie into GPS.
  • by proxima ( 165692 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:03PM (#14913029)
    The KT133 was terrible. [...] A quick search on Google for KT133 problems shows NINETY THOUSAND hits.

    The KT133 was immensely popular, as I recall. It's no surprise that lots of people report problems with it. On the other hand, I didn't say that the KT133 was particularly great, just that it was stable for me (while using it as an example of how the quality of the motherboard manufacturer seemed to matter a great deal). I leave beating the heck out of chipsets for review websites, which then form a decent basis of my purchases (at least since the KT400). Performance? It wasn't high on my priority list.

    I don't recall noticing huge performance differences in benchmarks of articles I read, but I could certainly be mistaken. I would still take a decent performance hit if it meant greater stability (which is why I stay far away from overclocking). I tend to buy the low end (but good quality) of what's available at that time, and upgrade more often (I think it provides more consistent relative performance at a good value).

    Overall, I'd jump at an Intel chipset, since Linux support is probably most consistently good there. But when the AMD options are just so much more appealing, you're left with VIA, SiS, and NVIDIA (roughly speaking), and I still have no compelling reason to move off of VIA.
  • Price.
    function checkOutCheapAndSmallComp()
      if (newMiniITXLine.notablyCheaperThan(MacMini))
      return interesting = true;
      } else {
      return pointless = utterly;
    Since the MacMini all the small component, low power PC solutions have missed out. Only if MiniITX board and CPU+casing+powersupply+drive+ram+hdd is cheaper than the MacMini, only then will it stand a chance.

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller