Via touts world's smallest x86 CPU module form factor

Intel may be getting the lion's share of small-form-factor x86 designs thanks to its Atom processor, but that's not stopping Via Technologies from pursuing ever-smaller designs on its end. Remember Mobile-ITX? We first saw a business-card-sized reference motherboard all the way back in June 2007, and now, Via has finally given the standard an official debut.

The Mobile-ITX form factor now specifies a computer-on-module board measuring exactly 6 x 6 cm (2.36" x 2.36"), which, if we're not mistaken, gives it a roughly equivalent (or perhaps smaller) surface area than the prototype we handled. Those dimensions also make Mobile-ITX the "smallest x86 CPU-on-module specification in the industry," according to Via. Check out the mechanical drawing from the Mobile-ITX white paper:

Mobile-ITX CPU modules like the above include a processor, chipset, I/O, and memory chips, and they draw as little as 5W. The actual I/O ports reside on an auxiliary I/O carrier board, though. Via provides an example of such a daughter board in the photo below, but it says third parties can build their own application-specific boards and drop Mobile-ITX CPU modules into them.

Supported I/O standards include "USB, CRT, TTL LCD, PCIe, SPI, LPC, Video capture (or COM), SDIO, IDE, PS/2, SMB, GPIO, Audio, DVI, [and] LVDS (by Transmitter)," which ought to be enough for even a full-featured little PC. Via says it expects the Mobile-ITX standard to bring forth "a new breed of ultra-compact, portable networked devices suitable for a range of applications." The standard should come in particularly handy for medical and military uses, the company says.

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