Via QuadCore CPU rides in on new Mini-ITX boards

Remember the QuadCore CPU Via introduced last spring? We’ve been waiting for the chip to pop up in actual products, and now it has. Via’s new EPIA-M900 and EPIA-M910 Mini-ITX boards are available with the quad-core CPU. The chip runs at “1.2+ GHz”, which is Via’s way of saying it has a 1.2GHz base clock speed with a 1.46GHz turbo peak. Riding shotgun on both boards is Via’s VX900 chipset, whose integrated GPU boasts a ChromotionHD 2.0 video engine primed to accelerate 1080p video playback.

The EPIA-M900 is the more conventional of the two offerings, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve. In addition to a PCI Express x16 slot (with only eight lanes of bandwidth), the M900 features an old-school PCI slot. It also sports a pair of DDR3 SO-DIMM slots, Gigabit Ethernet, and an HDMI output. The port cluster is pretty spartan otherwise; Via hasn’t included USB 3.0 in the mix, and there are only four gen-two ports at the rear.

Next-gen USB connectivity is missing from the EPIA-M910, as well, but it’s designed more for industrial applications. This model features full-sized DIMM slots in addition to PCI and PCIe expansion slots. The expansion slots are in-line with each other, but they’re designed to be used with a riser card that puts the slots in a more traditional parallel arrangement. Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports are provided, and the board can be expanded to offer up to a dozen COM ports using add-in cards. Please, contain your excitement.

There was a time when EPIA boards were attractive options for diminutive home-theater PCs, but neither of these new releases looks like a good fit for the home. Via has resorted to active cooling on both models, which means there’s a tiny little fan destined to develop an annoying whine over time. The QuadCore CPU’s 27.5W thermal envelope probably makes passive cooling difficult.

Comments closed
    • Welch
    • 8 years ago

    I wonder how well one of these little VIA chips would work for something like say… a dummy terminal? I mean for $50-60 plus a 1-2gb stick of ram you could probably slap a nix build on and use purely for remote desktop sessions. Anyone tried this with something similar.

    Hmmm………. I smell an Intel/AMD/VIA Mini-ITX benchmark from TR 🙂

      • Farting Bob
      • 8 years ago

      I have an e-350 board in my fileserver / HTPC. Cost around £100 (and i had RAM lying around to put in). Good performance in things that actually matter on such a build, and very low power.

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      I used a little Zotac box with a Nano dual core a couple of weeks ago for a work project. That thing was surprisingly zippy but when it came to linux the piss poor graphics support was its Achillies heal. Rendering bugs everywhere.

      • obarthelemy
      • 8 years ago

      the $35 Raspberry Pi due out this month sounds much cheaper for that

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    Does anybody know if VIA is working on a successor to their current CPU? I hope this isn’t their last design. It would sure be cool if they can catch up, but then again, even a far more resourceful company such as AMD is already struggling to keep up with Intel. It’s all about the money, I guess (to fund R&D and marketing).

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    “…and the board can be expanded to offer up to a dozen COM ports using add-in cards.”

    YAY…

    Even if you include industrial use, why would you want to use one of these over a Atom or Fusion board?

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      Oh there are few reasons, the nano’s usually offer higher performance then the atom’s and the Padlock encryption engine is pretty damn good.

        • mutarasector
        • 8 years ago

        I’d guess VIA’s padlock encryption engine is its big calling card, especially for mission critical applications.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    If TR can write an article about exactly how one could buy a VIA CPU-based system, then THAT would be news.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      If you’re the kind of industrial customer VIA primarily caters to, you already know (it generally involves buying the board already installed inside something else you actually care about).

      • Bensam123
      • 8 years ago

      [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007623&IsNodeId=1&bop=And&ActiveSearchResult=True&SrchInDesc=via&Page=1&PageSize=20[/url<] Where is my ad revenue?

    • Deanjo
    • 8 years ago

    Too bad the video drivers for these via graphics are completely fubared for linux.

    • tootercomputer
    • 8 years ago

    I know Via is still around and obviously they are still generating products, but I sure have not heard much from them in the US market over the past few years. Who buys Via stuff now, and for what purpose? These look like very specialized systems. Are they used outside of the US, for a specific industry, libraries, something like that?

    I owned several Via mobos in the past and was very happy with them for the most part.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      They’re integrated into commercial and industrial equipment — Point of Sale systems, automated machinery, and some lab / medical equipment — where they’re exclusively running one proprietary program (for the most part). When you take a cab to a theater there may be a ruggedized VIA board with GPS in the trunk feeding a fleet-management app; when you arrive and see the animated posters (digital screens) advertising the current movies there may be a VIA board behind that, and when you buy your tickets — from a person or a self-serve kiosk — there may be a VIA board running that too.

      [url<]http://www.viaembedded.com/en/[/url<]

        • swaaye
        • 8 years ago

        Or an ARM or MIPS CPU. Surely their primary competition.

    • ludi
    • 8 years ago

    That’s not much of a fan, and probably exists mostly to support third-party builds. An OEM could easily eliminate it by adding a duct/shroud to the PSU fan.

    Does seem to be targeting the industrial crowd, though, not much point in using something like this for HTPC or light gaming when those Zotac Z-box and FUSION boards are running around. Case in point:

    [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813500068[/url<]

      • burntham77
      • 8 years ago

      Now that’s a heatsink!

      • Squeazle
      • 8 years ago

      It’s hard to ennumerate the hatred I have for shrouds… mainly because it’s an irrational hatred.

      But still. So damn ugly. And dirty in about 2 seconds. And probably destroying any other attempt at airflow.

      • Bensam123
      • 8 years ago

      You can get Mini-itx boards with full fledged sockets for cheaper (including the price of a processor to fit in them).

    • ClickClick5
    • 8 years ago

    V….I….A? What is that?

      • crabjokeman
      • 8 years ago

      If you have to ask…

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      Very Intelligent Architecture- not that it couldn’t be googled, but I figure most people won’t take the time.

        • bhassel
        • 8 years ago

        [i<]Very Innovative Architecture[/i<] according to Wikipedia... i don't see any mention of intelligent 🙂

    • Farting Bob
    • 8 years ago

    Intorduces in May, actual products available in Feb the next year? I worry for Via, how they stay in business i dont know.

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      For a board that may be in service for the next decade…. Perspective is important.

        • Farting Bob
        • 8 years ago

        If you plan on using the same hardware for such a long time (especially in a business setting), its generally better to get something that isnt already limited. Wont cost much more per unit to get a Intel or AMD based solution and support costs will likely be far more of a factor than initial hardware cost. Are Via any good at extended support for their business orientated stuff?

          • ludi
          • 8 years ago

          VIA has mainly been selling into embedded/industrial and emerging markets for a while now. The legacy PCI support is part of that, along with the fact that this device can use a single-vendor driver package. AMD’s FUSION platforms are the next closest thing and AFAIK they don’t have a presence in this market, nor does AMD seem committed to this market for the long-term.

          This time next year, one of these VIA boards may process your self-checkout purchase at the Home Depot and you’ll never even know it. It’s not a sexy or particularly visible market, but somebody is manufacturing the hardware for it.

      • chµck
      • 8 years ago

      Don’t they license out a bunch of their IP?

      • Vasilyfav
      • 8 years ago

      “Products available in Feb the next year” is probably going to mean “Gets to retailers by June, available on 2-3 sites with a markup that makes it not-competitive”.

      I have yet to see a VIA product available at the same time that it is technologically relevant to the market.

        • theonespork
        • 8 years ago

        You, and many others, seem to be under the illusion that this product is meant to service the first world primary consumer market. It is perfectly relevant to the industrial and emerging consumer markets it caters to. Industry could care less about Crysis frame rates and emerging markets can buy this entire package for a price comparable to a new PC title.

    • bthylafh
    • 8 years ago

    I have to wonder why Via bothers.

      • crabjokeman
      • 8 years ago

      The prospect of making money entices some people.

        • bthylafh
        • 8 years ago

        lol, that was worth a +1.

    • Rza79
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]Via has resorted to active cooling on both models, which means there's a tiny little fan destined to develop an annoying whine over time[/quote<] And you conclude this on what basis? I have a 4cm Scythe fan running many year without a change in noise level. I've seen old computers with Quadro's that have small fans running perfectly silent.

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      Decades of experience with fans that have developed a whine, buzz, squeal, etc. over time?

        • Rza79
        • 8 years ago

        Yes those found on $40 videocards or old consumer motherboards. Not on industrial components.

      • crabjokeman
      • 8 years ago

      You think a 40mm fan is quiet? You should have your hearing tested. Those things make a high-pitched racket when they’re running at any speed that actually moves an appreciable amount of air (even when they’re new).

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        Sound is measured in dB, not mm.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 8 years ago

          You could measure the amplitude in mm, if you were so inclined.

          • crabjokeman
          • 8 years ago

          And (obviously) my point was that smaller fans generally = more dB.

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