As VIA's energy-efficient mobile processor range gets faster, the chips become more suited to applications other than basic ultraportable notebooks. That's why the company has developed a new Mini-ITX 2.0 standard, an updated version of the 17cm square motherboard which has proved so popular with case modders and small-form-factor HTPCs. Mini-ITX 2.0 specifies a CPU such as VIA's own Nano, a 16-lane PCI Express slot for high-definition video support, and a minimum of 2GB DDR2 RAM.
Surround-sound audio is specified as standard, with three stereo jacks for up to six channels, and two SATA II connectors and one IDE should open up more storage possibilities. The standard calls for a minimum of four USB 2.0 ports, though I would've liked to have seen an eSATA socket there too. Network connectivity is limited to gigabit ethernet; there's no demand for any particular wireless technology.
VIA expects motherboards based on the Mini-ITX 2.0 standard to be available in Q4 2008, together with prebuilt systems from "leading vendors". The company has already worked with NVIDIA to ensure the new specifications play nicely with the graphics specialist's DX10 GPUs.
VIA Unveils Mini-ITX 2.0: The Mini PC Platform of the Future
Seven years after inventing the form factor, VIA defines the next generation of Mini-ITX platforms enabling greater performance and freedom of choice in small form factor computing and multimedia
Computex, Taipei, Taiwan, 5 June 2008 - VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced a new standard for Mini-ITX boards to ensure an optimized multimedia and computing experience in small form factor desktop PCs.
Mini-ITX 2.0 is a set of minimum specifications for the next generation of Mini-ITX boards to encourage the integration of the latest PC technologies into the small form factor market and to provide OEMs, system integrators and end-users alike greater freedom of choice in configuring mini PCs and home media centers to deliver an optimized graphics, high definition video, and computing experience. Mini-ITX 2.0 makes the ideal platform for such systems due to its advanced performance, high levels of feature integration, and easy expandability, coupled with the broad infrastructure of cases and accessories that has been built up around the form factor.
At the core of Mini-ITX 2.0 is a high performance yet power efficient x86 processor, such as the VIA Nano processor announced last week, to provide all the horsepower necessary for running the latest applications and operating systems in a space-constrained environment. To maximize flexibility in configuring mini PC systems for today's increasingly immersive graphics and high definition visual computing environments, such as advanced DirectX® 10 graphics and Blu-ray Disc™ playback, Mini-ITX 2.0 also defines a 16-lane PCI Express slot as a prerequisite, enabling the integration of a high performance graphics add-in card.
"With the Mini-ITX, VIA set the de facto standard for small form factor x86 platform integration, triggering industry-wide innovation in mini PC systems," said Timothy Chen, Special Assistant to the President, VIA Technologies, Inc. "Through the introduction of Mini-ITX 2.0, we are defining the mini PC platform of the future, paving the way for the emergence of a new generation of high performance systems that deliver an optimized experience in today's increasingly media rich environment."
In line with the company's long-term commitment to supporting open industry standards, VIA is working with leading industry partners including NVIDIA, the world leader in visual computing technologies and the inventor of the GPU, to drive innovation and maximize freedom of choice around the Mini-ITX 2.0 standard.
"VIA has pioneered small form factor PCs, in contrast to competing closed designs, VIA's new solution allows customers to play today's latest PC games and experience new video and photo applications available with NVIDIA's DX10 GPUs," stated Drew Henry, general manager, NVIDIA MCP business.
Mini-ITX 2.0 Standard
Mini-ITX 2.0 is an open industry standard that defines the minimum platform requirements for media-rich optimized mini PCs. Key features include the following:
Processor: High-performance, power efficient x86 processor, such as the VIA Nano processor
Memory: Support for minimum 2GB DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics: DirectX 9.0 integrated (IGP);DirectX 10 through an add-in card
Display: 1 VGA port for LCD display; 1 HDMI port on add-in card
HD Audio: 3 Audio jacks for up to 6-channel surround sound
Broadband Connectivity: 1 Gigabit LAN port
Storage: 2 Serial ATA II slots + 1 IDE (PATA) slot
Peripheral Connectivity: Minimum 4 USB2.0 ports
Expansion: 1 PCI Express 16-lane slot
Size: 17cm x 17cm
O/S Support: Microsoft® Windows Vista®; Microsoft Windows Vista Premium (through an add-in graphics card); Microsoft Windows® XP, and major Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Suse Linux and gOS
VIA's Decisive Role in Small Form Factor Innovation
Today's Mini-ITX mainboards have come a long way from first production, with faster processor speeds yet more power efficient platforms than ever, with richer digital media feature integration, and greater connectivity and storage options. VIA boards now feature PCI Express, DDR2, SATA II, multi-channel HD audio and much more, and VIA is continually investing resources in developing ways to integrate ever greater functionality into small footprint platforms. From the earliest VIA EPIA board to the Mini-ITX 2.0 concept, VIA has been at the cutting edge of small form factor innovation.
More information about the Mini-ITX form factor may be found on the VIA website at:
http://www.via.com.tw/en/initiatives/spearhead/mini-itx/, and details of all today's VIA Mini-ITX boards can be found at: http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/mainboards/.
More information on Mini-ITX 2.0 may be found on the VIA website at:
Mini-ITX 2.0 Availability
Motherboards and systems based around the Mini-ITX 2.0 standard will be available from leading vendors in the fourth quarter of 2008.
About VIA Technologies, Inc.
VIA Technologies, Inc is the foremost fabless supplier of power efficient x86 processor platforms that are driving system innovation in the PC, client, ultra mobile and embedded markets. Combining energy-saving processors with digital media chipsets and advanced connectivity, multimedia and networking silicon enables a broad spectrum of computing and communication platforms, including its widely acclaimed ultra compact mainboards. Headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan, VIA's global network links the high tech centers of the US, Europe and Asia, and its customer base includes the world's top OEMs and system integrators. www.via.com.tw