Via Debuts EPIA-M920 Mini-ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | September 23, 2012 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: VIA EPIA-M920, VIA, mini-itx

VIA recently announced a new motherboard and processor combination meant for embedded systems like Point of Sale (POS) machines and digital signage. The EPIA-M920 is the company's first mini-ITX form factor board to feature its VXIIH chipset. VIA has packed a lot into this 17cm x 17cm motherboard, and the specs suggest that it is a capable machine. It can't match the NUC, but it should cost less -- and one SKU can even be run fanless. The EPIA-M920 comes in two iterations depending on the processor you select: the 12Q and the 10E. The EPIA-M920-12Q packs a 1.2GHz VIA QuadCore E processor, and requires a CPU HSF with fan. On the other hand, the EPIA-M920-10E is powered by a VIA Eden X2 dual core processor at 1.0GHz. The 10E version can run without any heatsink fans, and is passively cooled by two small aluminum heatsinks over the VXIIH chipset and processor.

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The VXIIH chipset includes the Chromotion 5.0 video processor that hardware accelerates a number of video codecs includinig MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC-1, and H.264. VIA claims that the graphics processor can handle videos with those codecs at resolutions up to 1080p (they did not specify bit rates, however) without affecting the CPU. Further, the GPU supports DirectX 11 graphics and stereoscopic 3D content.

The VIA motherboard can support up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM running at 1333MHz (via two SO-DIMM slots). Internal headers include:

  • 2 x LVDS (Low Voltage Differential Signaling)
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x SATA
  • 3 x RS232 (congifurable: 5V/12V)
  • SDHC card slot
  • PCI-E x4 slot

In addition, the mini ITX motherboard will happily accept power connections from either an AC or CD power supply and is compatible with the slim, low wattage, DC PSUs though no specific recommended wattage was stated.

EPIA-M920_io_L_medium.jpg

Rear IO on the motherboard is also fairly impressive considering the size. Via has packed in the following connectors.

  • Dual Gigabit LAN ports powered by two VIA VT6130 controllers.
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x HDMI
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x COM
  • 3 x audio jacks (VIA VT2021 HD codec)
  • 2 x PS/2 ports

The VIA EPIA-M920 motherboard supports Windows 7, but it is primarily aimed at embedded markets, and as such is compatible with the Windows Embedded Standard 7, Windows XP Embedded, and POSReady 7 operating systems. VIA intends for this system to be used to power digital signage, point of sale machines, ATMs, kiosks, embedded gaming platforms, and other digital media applications where low power flourishes. VIA Technologies Embedded Platform Division Head Epan Wu stated that "the VIA EPIA-M920 Mini-ITX packs in all of the latest technologies from VIA providing embedded system designers an ideal platform to create groundbreaking new devices."

Unfortunately, no pricing or availability information was stated in the press release. It should be available to system integrators soon, however. You can find more photos of the EPIA-M920 mini ITX motherboard in VIA's photo gallery.

Source: Via

Remember VIA Technologies?

Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2012 - 10:17 AM |
Tagged: VIA, purchase

There was a time when VIA was a common name in computers for motherboard chipsets and low power processors, but it has been quite a while since they've been in the news.  It's PC division has been having a very rough couple of years; only their telecom, USB and ARM branches have been bringing in money.  They do however own quite a few patents which has attracted the attention of an unnamed China-based communications chip player who, according to DigiTimes, are looking to purchase VIA.  This will likely have little effect on the North American market but could put them in much better standing in the Asian markets.

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"In the first half of 2012, VIA suffered net losses of NT$1.86 billion (US$62 million) and compared to the same period a year ago, the amount increased 63% with EPS already at negative NT$1.89. Although the company achieved an on-month growth in July revenues, due to the weak global economy and strong competition in China's white-box market, market watchers are mostly conservative about its future performance."

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Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

VIA unveils the APC $49 Android PC

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems | May 22, 2012 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: VIA, htpc, APC

VIA tops Gingerbread with a banana for some reason. They also unveil a $49 system powered by Android 2.3 which has been customized for mouse and keyboard support. The system draws between 4 and 13.5 watts (idle and load respectively) and can be mounted into any standard Mini-ITX or microATX chassis as well as chassis for the new Neo-ITX standard.

I guess VIA wants to be more than just Android-in-law to HTC.

It seems as though the low powered computing market is continuing to be eaten by ARM with devices such as VIA’s just announced APC Android PC. The APC seems to be aimed at the home theatre and enthusiast markets. VIA also hopes that the low price point will introduce more people to computing.

apc-via.jpg

Apparently VIA prefers bananas to Apples.

The APC is powered by an 800MHz VIA ARM11 system-on-a-chip with 512 MB of DDR3 RAM. 2GB of flash memory is embedded on the device which can be expanded by a microSD card slot. It may also be possible to install extra memory through one of the four USB2.0 ports on the device although that is not explicitly stated in the press release. Display output will be limited to 720p. Power usage will vary between 4 and 13.5 watts depending on load.

VIA is also promoting the device for its Neo-ITX form factor. The APC is 17cm x 8.5cm in dimensions -- which is just under 6 3/4” by 3 3/8” for you non-Metrics -- and can mount in Mini-ITX or microATX cases. It apparently is also smaller than a banana.

The APC is expected to ship this July for $49.

Source: VIA

Have you ever wanted an audio codec decoder?

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: VIA, Realtec, decoder, codec, C-Media, audio, Analog Devices

There are a wide range of audio coder/decoders on the market, from a variety of vendors providing codecs for both onboard audio as well as for discrete cards which can prove confusing to even veteran PC builders.  With Analog Devices, Realtec, C-Media, VIA and several other smaller vendors providing a wide range of codecs and controllers you can easily be lost in the alphabet soup of model names.  Perhaps you wish there was a handy reference that would give you a list of the basic capabilities of these codecs, like the Channels available, input and output resolution, the maximum sampling rates and the signal to noise ratio?  Hardware Secrets has heard your plea and assembled a list of the more common codecs on the market today which you can refer to here.

HS_coderdecoder.jpg

"Audio codec is a small chip measuring 0.25 sq. in. (7 mm2) located on the motherboard in charge of the analog audio functions. Knowing the specs of a codec will permit you to compare the audio quality of different motherboards, allowing you to choose the right product for your needs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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VIA Announces World's First Quad Core Mini-ITX Boards

Subject: Systems | February 23, 2012 - 09:26 AM |
Tagged: VIA, EPIA-M900, EPIA-M910, quadcore

Taipei, Taiwan--February 23, 2012 - VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announcedthe world's first quad core Mini-ITX boards featuring the latest VIA QuadCore E-Series processor. The VIA EPIA-M900 and VIA EPIA-M910 are the first two Mini-ITX boards to feature the 1.2GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor, offering enhanced multi-tasking and superb multimedia performance on the lowest quad core power budget for next generation embedded products.

The VIA QuadCore E-Series processor features a highly optimized, energy efficient multi-core architecture, which is natively 64-bit compatible and comes with a host of additional performance features including Adaptive Overclocking. To meet the low power demands of the embedded market, the VIA QuadCore E-Series processor offers industry-leading energy efficiency, with the VIA QuadCore E-Series 1.2+ GHz processor delivering a thermal design power (TDP) of only 27.5W. The distributed power of the VIA QuadCore E-Series processor makes it ideal for handling the most demanding HD video formats for immersive multi-display applications and environments.

"The VIA QuadCore E-Series processor delivers world class performance in the industry's leading power efficient package,"said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. "The high performance of the VIA QuadCore E-Series processor makes it the perfect platform for the creation of next generation digital signage displays and embedded projects."

VIA EPIA-M900VIA EPIA-M900
Measuring 17cm x 17cm the VIA EPIA-M900 Mini-ITX board features the choice of a 1.2GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor or a 1.6GHz dual core VIA Nano X2 E-Series processor.Paired with the VIA VX900 MSP, supporting up to 8GB of DDR3 system memory and featuring the VIA ChromotionHD 2.0 video processor, the VIA EPIA-M900 enables the creation of a wealth of innovative next generation digital signage, POS, Kiosk, ATM, home automation, healthcare and media client system design applications.

VIA Quad 1.jpg

Just click to grow!

Rear panel I/O includes a Gigabit LAN port, HDMI port, VGA port, four USB 2.0 ports, one COM port and three audio jacks. An onboard PCIe x16 slot (with effective speed up to PCIe x8) and one PCI slot is accompanied with pin headers providing one dual channel 24-bit LVDS support (including backlight control), an additional three COM ports, a further four USB 2.0 ports and one USB device port, LPC support, 2 Digital I/O, SPDIF out and an SMBus header.

For more information about the VIA EPIA-M900 Mini-ITX board, please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/boards/productDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1550&tabs=1

VIA EPIA-M910VIA EPIA-M910
Paired with the VIA VX900 MSP, the VIA EPIA-M910 is available with a wide choice of VIA x86 processors, including the latest 1.2GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor, a 1.6GHz VIA Nano X2 dual core processor or a fanless 1.0GHz VIA Eden X2 dual core processor. Featuring one of the richest I/O sets available, the VIA EPIA-M910 is ideal for a wide range of embedded applications including ATM, kiosks, POS, digital signage, healthcare and digital media applications.

EPIA_2.jpg

Embiggen with a click

Rear panel I/O includes dual Gigabit LAN ports, PS/2 support, one HDMI port, a VGA port, two RS-232 5v/12v selectable COM ports, four USB 2.0 ports and audio jacks. On board pin headers provide 2 x 24-bit LVDS support (including backlight control), two SATA ports, an additional six COM ports, a further four USB ports, Digital I/O, and a PCIe x4 slot. The VIA EPIA-M910 is available with support for either ATX or DC-in power supplies.

For more information about the VIA EPIA-M910 Mini-ITX board, please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/boards/productDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1810&tabs=1

For more information about VIA QuadCore E-Series processors, please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/processors/productDetail.jsp?productLine=5&id=1830&tabs=1

VIA teams with Tensilica to roll their own SSD controller

Subject: Storage | February 16, 2012 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: Xtensa, VIA, Tensilica, ssd, DPU, controller

VIA has always been known for the 'slow and steady' approach to computing. They might not have the quickest stuff around, but they certainly tend to have the lowest power draw. While we haven't seen many releases from VIA as of late, they appear to be gearing up for a rediscovered purpose for their mantra - Solid State Storage.

VIA has brought on a company called Tensilica, who make a System on a Chip (SoC) architecture that has been purpose built for moving data around. The system, dubbed the Xtensa dataplane processor (DPU), has some particular math strengths that would be very beneficial if applied to the realm of an SSD controller. For example, the DPU is capable of performing multiple simultaneous table lookups within a single clock cycle. This is handy for increasing the IOPS rating of an SSD, since wear leveling and write amplification are handled by remapping the LBA's (sectors) to flash memory space. Each IO results in a necessary table lookup, which the DPU can perform very quickly.

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With the DPU being so efficient at these tasks, it could be run at lower clock speeds and outmaneuver competing SSD controllers - all while consuming less power. We're going to be watching VIA closely in the coming months on this one for sure.
Source: X-bit labs

S3 Chrome lives on the 600 Series using VIA's soon to be released VT3456

Subject: General Tech | January 25, 2012 - 11:15 AM |
Tagged: s3, Chrome 600, VIA, VT3456, VX11

The Phoronix Test Suite is a wonderful source of unintentionally released test data, as system engineers working with processors not yet available on the market use it to test and sometimes accidentally post the results to OpenBenchmark.org.  For instance Phoronix noticed a Chrome 600 system, powered by a VIA Nano 1.2GHz Quad-Core processor, a motherboard called a VIA VT3456 VT8611BMB and S3 Chrome 600 graphics. It may have been a long time since you heard of S3 producing hardware but there is confirmation that they are still alive and have at least some customers.

VIA_Nano.jpg

"The S3 Chrome 600 series / VIA VT3456 (VX11) still hasn't been officially announced, but here are some benchmarks of the forthcoming chipset from a VIA Nano quad-core system."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: Phoronix

VIA Labs USB 3.0 Active Optical Cable Solution Demonstrated at CES 2012

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2012 - 08:37 AM |
Tagged: CES, VIA, usb 3.0, thunderbolt

VIA Labs have teamed up with Fiber Optic Communications Inc., PCL Technologies Inc., OpTarget Solutions Co., Ltd. and Universal Microelectronics Co,. Ltd. to create a transceiver for use with USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables.   This USB 3.0 AOC seems to be what LightPeak, aka Thunderbolt was originally supposed to be.  Thunderbolt did arrive, it showed up quite a bit at CES 2012, but as a copper interconnect as opposed to the multiple wavelength fibre optics we were originally promised.  If the 5 gigabit portion of the name is truly indicative of transfer speeds then this type of USB connection will run about 7 times faster than the Thunderbolt devices that were shown at CES.  As well, the cables can be run for over 100 metres, so you might just be able to wire your house for USB after all. 

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Taipei, Taiwan, January 13, 2012 - VIA Labs, Inc., a leading supplier of USB 3.0 integrated chip controllers, today announced the VIA Labs VO510 5-Gigabit Optical Transceiver which is being showcased at CES 2012. The VIA Labs V0510 Optical Transceiver is used in USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables (AOC) which enables rapid data transfers and high-definition multimedia across distances of over 100 meters. Developed in collaboration with FOCI, PCL, OpTarget and UMEC, USB 3.0 AOC solutions offer exciting new possibilities in the use of USB 3.0 technology.

"This USB 3.0 AOC was designed to be fully compliant with SuperSpeed USB electrical specifications," said Dr. Janpu Hou, Vice President of FOCI. "We are very pleased to be a partner on this collaboration team. This partnership will accelerate the deployment of breakthrough USB 3.0 technologies and enable new applications for all USB 3.0 developers." As a partner of FOCI, Dr. Thomas Liu, President of PCL said "As the world leading optical transceiver ODM/CM company,PCL Technologies is excited to build and demonstrate the optical USB 3.0 cable in collaboration with VIA Labs and Foci. With the USB 3.0 AOCs providing higher data rates across much longer distances, we will enable usage scenarios in Digital Signage, Surveillance, and Zero Client applications."

"OpTarget works with leading system integrators, distributors, and OEMs in the development and delivery of Smart Digital Signage and Zero Client solutions for commercial, education, and industrial customers. With the ultra-thin profile and long reach of the new USB 3.0 AOC powered by VIA Labs' Optical Transceiver, we can now offer effective and low-cost solutions based on existing USB devices while providing an improved user experience, increased functionality, and greater system flexibility" said Mu Chen, President of OpTarget.

"The UMEC Thumb ONE USB 3.0 AOC can extend gigabit-speed USB 3.0 transmission distance up to 100m (330ft) with optical fibers. Since optical fibers carry light instead of electric impulses, they are highly resistant to electromagnetic interference and they do not radiate any of their own, making the USB 3.0 AOC an excellent solution for applications in Medical Imaging Equipment, Broadcast TV, and others where high-tolerance to interference is desirable" said K.T. Chao, Vice President of UMEC.

"We are very grateful to our partners, who worked closely with VIA Labs to bring the USB 3.0 AOC from concept to reality," said Jiin Lai, Chief Technical Officer, VIA Labs, Inc. "With the VO510 and our partner's AOC products at mass production readiness, we are looking to expand our coverage of other interconnects such as PCI Express."

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: VIA Labs

Via X86 Hardware Will Have Support for Android OS

Subject: Systems | December 15, 2011 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: x86, VIA, Nano, embedded, Android

Today low power X86 platform manufacturer Via Technologies announced Android operating system support with their embedded x86 motherboards and processors. Currently, the company is supporting Android on their EITX-3002 platform, with more options likely to come in the future. Via believes that running Android on X86 embedded systems presents the opportunity for low cost entertainment systems capable of playing back 1080p video in vehicles, planes, and kiosks.

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Including the usually Android SDKs, Via has released a new SMART ETK (Embedded Tool Kit) that allows monitoring and control of peripherals. Applications of this include controlling lights or environmental systems in your home via a touchscreen enabled embedded home control center. In the video below, Via shows off Android running on their EITX-3002 platform and using a touchscreen panel connected to it to control an external light and fan.

The EITX-3002 is a motherboard based on the Em-ITX form factor. The boards is then paired with either a 1.2 GHz VIA Nano X2 E-Series or a 1.0 GHz Eden X2 dual core processor. In addition, a VIA VX900 MSP is located on the underside of the motherboard. This co-processor assists with the decoding HD video thanks to hardware acceleration. The VX900 MSP supports decoding MPEG-2, H.264, VC-1, and WMV9 codecs. The embedded platform itself is able to output to two independent displays and resolutions of 1920 x 1080. Fan-less enclosures can be used with this low power setup, and rear I/O includes HDMI, VGA, two Gigabit Ethernet, two COM ports, four USB 2.0, four USB 3.0, and audio jacks. Via will support the Windows 7, XP, Embedded Standard 2009, WES7, Debian Linux, and Android 2.2 operating systems.

There are already projects like AndroidX86 that allow users to use the Android OS on traditional PCs but not officially. This Via platform would be good for embedded systems and pairing it with Android is a good move. Especially now that many people are familiar with or have at least seen how the Android OS works, having a similar setup in vehicle and in-flight entertainment systems will make the UI all the more intuitive. Not to mention that the Android OS uses less resources than a traditional Windows installation which means power savings for end users. Whether Android will catch on or not for entertainment kiosks and car computers remains to be seen but it’s an interesting option for sure.

Source: Via

VIA Announces Android Support for Embedded x86 Boards

Subject: Systems | December 15, 2011 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: VIA, EITX, VIA EITX-3002

Taipei, Taiwan, December 15, 2011 - VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced Android support for VIA x86 embedded platforms, starting with support for the VIA EITX-3002 Em-ITX board. Running Android on an x86 platform offers increased flexibility, great multimedia support and cost saving advantages for embedded applications such as in-vehicle entertainment and interactive kiosks.

Key advantages for Android on x86 include leverage of Android development resources and existing apps, rich I/O flexibility, greater CPU performance as well as higher display resolutions of up to 1920x1080. In addition VIA has released SMART ETK, an Embedded Tool Kit which allows monitoring and control of peripheral devices through the Android OS, allowing for greater environmental control of kiosk and other installed environments.

VIA_EITX-3002.jpg

"VIA has a long history of offering a wide range of options and customized solutions for our embedded customers," said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. "The addition of Android OS support to our embedded x86 boards adds increased flexibility and further broadens our ability to meet their needs."

The VIA EITX-3002 is based on the unique Em-ITX form factor, and is powered by a choice of a 1.2GHz VIA Nano X2 E-Series or 1.0GHz VIA Eden X2 dual core processor in combination withthe VIA VX900 MSP. Placed on the reverse side of the board, the available real estate is optimized, facilitating simple fanless chassis designs.The VIA EITX-3002 takes advantage of the VIA VX900H media system processor, a feature packed all-in-one digital media chipset that brings excellent hardware acceleration for the latest HD video formats including MPEG-2, H.264, VC-1 and WMV9. The VIA EITX-3002 can support dual independent display for superior digital signage displays.

VIA_EITXf.jpg

Designed for stability at extreme temperatures, fanless devices based on the VIA EITX-3002 can enjoy absolute stability at temperatures ranging from -10oC to 65oC. Dual I/O coastlines include an HDMI port, VGA port, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, dual COM ports, four USB ports, two USB 3.0 ports (optional), audio jacks and power and HDD activity LEDs.The VIA EITX-3002 supports Windows 7, XP, Windows Embedded Standard 2009 and WES7 as well as Debian Linux and Android 2.2 operating systems.

To watch a video demonstration of Android running on a VIA EITX-3002 x86 board please visit: http://youtu.be/lHEsfB-vtbM

For more information about the VIA EITX-3002 Em-ITX board please visit: http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/embedded/ProductDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1570&tabs=1