Quad-core CPU appears on Pico-ITX board

Over the past year or so, a bunch of mini PC boards have combined ARM-based SoCs with basic I/O ports. These barebones computers tend to be very inexpensive, but they’re also quite limited and have thus far been compatible with only Android and Linux. Via’s latest mini PC board is quite a bit more powerful, and it should have no problem running Windows. Say hello to the EPIA-P910, a Pico-ITX motherboard featuring a Via QuadCore E-Series processor.

As its name implies, the QuadCore CPU features four cores. The cores are split between two dies that share the same package, and they’re proper, x86-compatible units. Unlike Intel’s Atom CPUs, these “Isaiah” cores support out-of-order execution. They’re also 64-bit compatible, allowing the EPIA-P910’s single SO-DIMM slot to support up to 8GB of memory.

The QuadCore CPU is just that—a CPU. The processor is paired with Via’s VX11H chipset, which supplies DirectX 11-class Chromotion 5.0 integrated graphics and a bunch of system I/O. Amusingly, the VX11H consumes more board real estate than the processor. While the integrated GPU surely won’t be speedy enough for gaming, it supports stereoscopic 3D displays and promises decode acceleration for various video formats, including H.264. The Chromotion GPU feeds a trio of video outputs: one VGA, LVDS, and Mini HDMI. Also on the menu: Gigabit Ethernet, dual Serial ATA connectors, and two USB 3.0 ports.

Via squeezes everything onto a circuit board measuring just 3.9″ x 2.8″, making the EPIA only slightly larger than the much less powerful Raspberry Pi. Of course, the Pi can be had for just $35. There’s no mention of the EPIA-P910’s price in Via’s press release, but the board is likely to cost quite a bit more than basic ARM-based solutions. That only seems fair given the hardware involved.

Call it morbid curiosity, but given the performance optimizations built into Windows 8, I can’t help but wonder how fast a system based on the P910 would feel for everyday tasks. Too bad the stock cooler isn’t a passive design.

Comments closed
    • juampa_valve_rde
    • 7 years ago

    Its interesting as concept, the nano kicks atom in the nuts 4 times, but as everyone says around here, VIA comes with an unbreakable record of lazziness in driver development. Usually the VIA hardware just does fine, but their drivers and software is awful, always broken. I will love if VIA shuts my mouth by getting their thing toghether (igp and sb drivers performing and working right on windows and linux).

    • LoneWolf15
    • 7 years ago

    Processor, fine.

    Graphics and fan, meh.

    I don’t trust VIA to support their GPUs for anything, they’ve burned people too many times. It’s sad, because I think that aside from that, this board is pretty interesting.

    I’d also be concerned about finding a replacement fan if the included one dies.

    • madmilk
    • 7 years ago

    The Via QuadCore has a 32W TDP including chipset… wake me up when this gets Ivy Bridge or Trinity.

      • Farting Bob
      • 7 years ago

      Yea i dont want a fan and huge heatsink on something this small, the power draw (particularly the Via chipset IIRC) is way to high for it’s form factor.

      • kalelovil
      • 7 years ago

      23.8W for this particular combination actually (18W low-clocked CPU + 5.8W Chipset).

    • ermo
    • 7 years ago

    You have to wonder how this part compares to NVidia’s Tegra 3 in terms of performance/watt…

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    My trash bin has six cores (very tasty apples they were, too!)

    Number of cores is irrelevant if the cores are no good for computing.

      • Farting Bob
      • 7 years ago

      These Via chips are good enough for basic usage, which covers probably about 90% of peoples needs really. It wont be the fastest, but it will do enough. I dont see why it needs 4 cores since so few programs you might run on this machine need that many. But when you cant make your dual-cores any faster without the wattage shooting up then quad core is a good alternative, even if 2 of the cores sit idle for most of the time.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    This could be a good option if they could prove its reliability and durability. However, one might be compelled to look for an AMD E-450 CPU+board instead, if reliability concerns you. It just worries me that finding an E-350/E-450 board is somewhat difficult (most of them find their way to laptops, I reckon). You gotta dig for it. Then again, it’s not like you’ll find this VIA product easily either. Price this similarly to an E-350/450 combo and VIA could just sell a truckload of these.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      I got an E-350 board from the egg a while back for $49 after rebate. It’s the heart of my new firewall/router box. I felt bad to waste it on a headless task like that. I’d rather have put a graphically useless Atom or Via chip in there.

    • internetsandman
    • 7 years ago

    This would be perfect for a low cost, low power nettop, hell given the right hardware (SSD, 8gb RAM, etc) it’d probably feel faster than my old core 2 duo from 5 years ago

    • Squeazle
    • 7 years ago

    I really can’t imagine why it offers 3D with no gaming. I don’t like 3D, I think it’s stupid. Some people disagree. But who is going to want to browse the web in an extra dimension?

      • Game_boy
      • 7 years ago

      VIA can’t really make money in the gaming consumer market. If they scaled up their CPU or GPU to be able to handle gaming they’d get destroyed by AMD/Nvidia/Intel on performance and power, because they have 10x the R&D budget.

      Their market is embedded/commercial systems which might require 3D but not intensively. Since their purchasing requirements are checkboxes, DX11 helps even if unused.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      It’s not ‘no gaming’, it’s ‘probably not fast enough for gaming’. Which means that it might actually be fast enough for some games, but given the package size and derivable transistor count range probabilities, don’t expect to much in the 3D rendering department.

      This thing would probably rock as a media center base though; make a passive HSF solution for it and tape it to the back of the HDTV!

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        Well, it could run old DOS games under DOSbox, maybe.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Pretty cool stuff, but unless it’s under $100 I would rather buy a mini-itx system.

    • phileasfogg
    • 7 years ago

    One of Zotac’s small HTPC boxes announced last year (the somewhat unfortunately named VD01) used the Via dual core NanoX2 and a much older VX900H DirectX9 IGP. Newegg has this product in stock (VD01Plus) with 4GB and 320GB HDD for $280 (too steep for me). If Zotac designs and ships an updated version with the Quad Core CPU and VX11 with 8GB and a modest sized SSD for about $300, it could be well worth a look.

      • Jeff Grant
      • 7 years ago

      Lots of Via hate, guess those wounds are deep for some. I use a NanoX2 1.4ghz in a mini itx for general browsing, videos and email because it’s quiet, low power and cool (TX heat is killer). Only switch over to my ‘big’ PC for the occasional game and winter warmth. The Nano is no i3/i5 or anything but gets the job done for simple tasks. I’d be glad to run any obscure benches that aren’t already out there if anyone’s interested. I fired up dnetc to see how it would do just now, never bothered checking before. I’m curious if someone has a brazos/atom how it does on these tests to compare.

      [url<]http://img853.imageshack.us/img853/106/dnetcogrn.png[/url<] [url<]http://img696.imageshack.us/img696/5742/dnetcrc572.png[/url<]

        • LoneWolf15
        • 7 years ago

        I have no hate for the CPU. S3/Chrome GPU though has a history of poor driver support.

          • Jeff Grant
          • 7 years ago

          I agree, the CPU isn’t bad at all, but the graphics could use some improvement in the drivers. I use the VE-900 board with an IPS 1080p LG display and with aero on, scrolling on picture heavy websites can get a little choppy. Running in a lower res or with aero theme off is faster maybe because the cpu does more of the work, or just pushing less pixels. I have noticed that flash support has improved heavily on this board and I can watch video without any issues at any resolution. AMD support has always been great in this regard on the Brazos from what I’ve read, but the via works great for me in regular use.

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    Yay! Finally! I’ve been waiting so long for a nice little quad core system with gbit lan and sata support! Oh wait….. it’s Via…. nevermind……

    [quote<]have thus far been compatible with only Android and Linux[/quote<] Don't have to worry about linux support with this thing. Via has none.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      I was going to -1 you for the Via snub, but I was going to +1 you for the linux/Via snub, so I ended up not doing either.

      • Game_boy
      • 7 years ago

      OpenChrome :)))))

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        Oh please, openChrome makes Vesa look like highend graphics.

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      Well… if you only wanted to use this board as a headless server it could have some potential, but I agree that anything involving graphics will be unpleasant at best.

    • pedro
    • 7 years ago

    When I’m thinking extreme space savings, I think VGA.

    Other than that it looks pretty neat.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      It has HDMI too, which covers all of the bases. I doubt that it could handle a resolution high enough to need DP, at least on the rendering side, and VGA is used for way too many things still, like business projectors.

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      This isn’t designed for HTPC enthusiasts. Read the press release — it’s intended for digital signs and other embedded applications.

      There appears to be quite a bit of legacy support in the second of those two pin headers, too.

    • dmjifn
    • 7 years ago

    1. I was kind of interested until I saw it was Via.
    2. Man, when I read the paragraph above that second picture, the fan appears to move. Spooky!

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 7 years ago

      Friends don’t let friends VIA.

        • DPete27
        • 7 years ago

        Im obviously out of the loop here, but what’s wrong with VIA? The platform as a whole looks very attractive to me, barring price and actual performance.

          • crabjokeman
          • 7 years ago

          Drivers… (and lack thereof on Linux).

        • Kurotetsu
        • 7 years ago

        You’re VIAing everytime you swoon over a Mini-ITX board, or any system that uses one.

      • jdaven
      • 7 years ago

      That’s weird. It seemed to move for me to. Talk about optical illusion.

        • bitcat70
        • 7 years ago

        Must be the VX11H. Alien technology?

        • tay
        • 7 years ago

        Same moves for me when you read a couple of paragraphs above it.

      • kalelovil
      • 7 years ago

      “1. I was kind of interested until I saw it was Via.”
      Why?
      The Via QuadCore is considerably faster than any of its AMD Brazos or Intel Atom CPU contemporaries, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the VX11H is competitive with Brazos in 3D performance (and it will beat Atom by a mile).

      It’s quite an engineering achievement to have considerable desktop computing power on such a small board. Unfortunately Via has practically no retail presence.

        • WillBach
        • 7 years ago

        Via’s retail presence is in digital signage and sometimes point-of-sale units, their market is in the embedded space world-wide and in the ultra-inexpensive consumer space in Southeast Asia.

        • Washer
        • 7 years ago

        Need some proof on those claims.

          • kalelovil
          • 7 years ago

          This uses a fairly low clocked QuadCore at 1-1.2Ghz because of thermal constraints, but the Nano architecture has a higher IPC than Bobcat (or Atom).
          [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4134/the-brazos-review-amds-e350-supplants-ion-for-miniitx/8[/url<] It will have a significant lead in anything that makes use of four threads.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]It will have a significant lead in anything that makes use of four threads.[/quote<] Silliness. Haswell will set you straight

            • kalelovil
            • 7 years ago

            The competitors for this are Atom and Brazos. The Via QuadCore is still using almost unchanged a core released in 2008.
            I expect Intel will charge a premium for the low-voltage Haswell SKUs, and they won’t be here for another ~9 months anyway. Do you really expect to see Haswell in a Pico-ATX form factor anytime soon?
            A more fair comparison would have been the 2013 Quad-core Silvermont Atoms.

            Or are you just trolling?

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            No, I was just pointing out that “anything that makes use of four cores” covers also high-end CPUs. Or, what kind of lead were you talking about?

            Haswell will probably fit into the same power envelope as this VIA quadcore, and will murder it in performance. It doesn’t really matter if the Via one was released in 2008, 2010 or 2012.

            • kalelovil
            • 7 years ago

            By “anything that makes use of four threads”, I meant any applications which make use of four or more threads, not chips which have four or more cores.
            Sorry for any confusion.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            Ah, actually you did mention threads. The confusion was all mine – sorrry about that

            • Washer
            • 7 years ago

            Thanks! That is quite interesting and significantly different than my impression of the Via chip’s performance.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      dude, it totally does. <3 optical illusions.

        • jackbomb
        • 7 years ago

        It’s not moving for me. Screw you, VIA.

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 7 years ago

        Damn good marketing. If anything, that fan’s going to stick in your mind every time you think about these things now. The specs are pretty good. Don’t get the via hate though, since I’ve never experienced any problems with their products, aside from the general cheapness. This could be a good niche for them. Edit: What do I mean could be? It is their niche, but maybe they could improve their standing.

      • oldDummy
      • 7 years ago

      Daily Prophet, Hogwarts.

      • flip-mode
      • 7 years ago

      Moves for me too, before I even read you comment.

      • gamoniac
      • 7 years ago

      You are right. it does move! Now I am going to stare at it for the next two hours…

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      These two comments should be seperated from each other. I can’t help but think you’re getting rated up by all the optical illusion ninies regardless of the Via hate.

        • dmjifn
        • 7 years ago

        Eh, “hate” is pretty strong. More like “Krogoth not impressed”.
        Good point on the mixed comments. How about you just give me a +0 and we’ll call it good? 🙂

          • Bensam123
          • 7 years ago

          The reason for the original post was that I couldn’t help but think you engineered the comment to come out that way. :p

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      Doesn’t work for me. Either

      1) my brain is too fast to let this optical “illusion” affect my perception, or’
      2) I’m too drunk to notice

        • MadManOriginal
        • 7 years ago

        I vote for # 2!

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