A new rumor is floating around about Foxconn that we just had to share. Apparently Foxconn Electronics might be leaving the branded motherboard industry and it's interesting to think about what that could mean.
VIA have taken the wraps off of their first Mini-ITX board to use the company's Nano processor, the replacement to the low-power C7-M. The VIA VB8001 board features the 1.6GHz processor itself, support for up to 4GB of DDR2 RAM, gigabit ethernet and two SATA ports. There's also a mini-PC slot for adding wireless broadband cards.
Intel are gearing up to launch their new Core i7 processor, formerly known as 'Nehalem', and so manufacturers are starting to put out compatible motherboards. Register Hardware have had the ASUS P6T Deluxe on the test bench, complete with six DDR3 RAM slots, 16+2-phase power design, three PCI Express 2.0 slots and onboard Crossfire and SLI. However, because the Core i7 isn't actually officially released yet, they can't tell us exact processor performance figures.
Motherboard manufacturer Portwell have begun shipping what they're calling the first nano-ITX 'board based on Intel's Atom processor. The Nano-8044 is a 4.72-inch square that supports up to 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a CompactFlash drive via an onboard socket, an SD card and an IDE drive. It's also apparently cool-running enough to be used fanless, and is offered with either the 1.6GHz Intel Z530 or the 1.1GHz Z510 CPU.
Intel's Atom CPU might have been initially intended for netbooks and other low-power ultraportables, but that didn't stop desktop manufacturers eyeing up the efficient chip for use in stationary PCs. ASUS' Eee Box is one such example: Atom's low heat output and mild thirst for electricity add up to an economical and compact desktop. However what you see here certainly isn't compact; it's a full ATX motherboard, complete with five PCI slots, and an Atom CPU soldered on.
Intel have announced some good news for anybody looking for increased performance over the current single core Atom CPU. The dual-core Atom 330, most recently reported delayed until Q4 2008, now looks to be close to its original launch estimate; Intel are suggesting the chip will be available in September this year. More details of the motherboard/chip package have also been released.
VIA have taken the wraps off of another Nano-ITX board, the EPIA N700, the first with the company's VX800 unified all-in-one media system processor. With a choice of 1.5GHz VIA C7 or 500MHz VIA Eden processors, what makes the N700 so compact is that video, graphics and connectivity are all handled by the VX800 chip. Just 33 x 33m, it includes a VIA Chrome 9 graphics core and HD video processor.
VIA have confirmed that they will be abandoning their chipset business, concentrating instead on their own x86 processors and integrated motherboards. The move comes, according to Richard Brown, vice president of corporate marketing in Taiwan, as the end-point of a long term transition to processors, prompted by the company's realisation that Intel and AMD would both corner the market in own-name chipsets and third-party offerings from VIA would be edged out.
NVIDIA are preparing to pull out of the motherboard business, according to a report by DigiTimes. Citing "sources close to the situation", it's claimed that NVIDIA called a meeting with manufacturing partners earlier this week to examine what degree of support their ongoing chipset development would receive; the partners' response was apparently poor enough to prompt the company to cut its losses.
VIA have done a little extra shaving and come up with their latest Pico-ITX motherboard, the EPIA P700. By replacing the traditional ports with in-line I/O header pins, there's been enough room for VIA to include an integrated power adaptor, while still keeping the whole thing down to just 10cm x 7.2cm. Accessory boards add normal ports, or you can simply wire up whichever connections you need.