We already learned via a DigiTimes report last month that Intel plans to push Mini-ITX as a companion form factor to its low-power, low-cost Atom processors. Word back then was that Intel had two Atom Mini-ITX motherboards up its sleeve—one based on the 945GC chipset, and another featuring the newer G35 Express chipset.
According to DigiTimes' latest article on the subject, Intel actually has a much more extensive plan in place to promote Mini-ITX-based Atom systems. Citing its usual sources in the distribution channel, the Taiwanese site states outright that Intel "only allows Atom processors to be used with mini-ITX motherboards." Those boards will feature no PCI Express expansion slots and include only a single DIMM slot. Reportedly, this restriction will cause demand for Mini-ITX cases to surge in June, when Atom chips will start to roll out into the market.
Oddly, DigiTimes seems to suggest Intel's Mini-ITX push will extend to "nettops," or low-cost sub-notebooks, even though Mini-ITX is intended mainly for small-form-factor desktop PCs and embedded systems. DigiTimes' last report also quoted an Intel executive as saying Intel's Mini-ITX push is an artifact of growing demand for small-form-factor PCs. The executive added that nettops "don't meet the requirements for entry-level or multimedia markets."