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.

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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
September 24, 2012 | 09:19 AM - Posted by thezfunk

Awesome! This should work with pfsense? I should get one and try it out. My old Epia board is still trucking right along as a pfsense box.

September 24, 2012 | 02:37 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

The processor is x86 so yeah, it should work :)

November 5, 2012 | 02:43 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This board is great, hardware RNG, AES and SHA1 (up to SHA1-512) support; a real SATA chip with AHCI support this time. Neat.

I wonder how much power it draws.

November 12, 2012 | 11:42 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Let's look at the downside (this is only about Linux/BSD/Unix):

Limited OS support (e.g. you can't run Solaris on Via CPUs). The padlock code (AES, SHA, RNG) is available only for i386 builds on most *BSDs (FreeBSD and DragonFly BSD made some changes to support padlock on amd64 as well, not sure about Net/OpenBSD).

No SHA1-512 support yet, not even in Linux (talking about the kernel).

No support for AES-CTR (not in Linux, not in *BSD, not in OpenSSL) anywhere. So you can't use the "new" hard disk encryption standard XTS and must stick with CBC.

The padlock support in OpenSSL is rather limited, i.e. you won't get hardware accelerated SHA* support (there are unofficial patches in the OpenSSL bug DB for ages now still waiting to be merged into a release, Alpine Linux ships with a patched openssl taking full advantage of padlock OTOH).

Rather limited support for Padlock in 3rd party apps compared to AES-NI.

Poor X11 support as far as I know (x86_64 VIA CPUs are running headless here).

January 10, 2013 | 03:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The EPIA-M920-10E board (just the board! not counting ssd/harddisk, external DVD drives, PCIe add-on cards etc.) draws 13W idle and ~30W under full load. Quite impressive IMHO.

See http://www.viaembedded.com/servlet/downloadSvl?id=1893&download_file_id=...

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