FAQ Last Updated: August 25, 2003
We are in the process of redesigning the 'sub-pages' of the Mini-ITX site, and as such the FAQ has not been updated much recently. Please bear with us and we will have a new-improved FAQ with you in a short(ish) while.
If you are looking for a very simple guide to Mini-ITX, why not try the Mini-ITX 101
Table of Contents
- 1. Hardware
- 2. Software
- 5.About Mini-ITX.com
- 1.1. What is the Mini-ITX form factor?
Whilst sharing much with it's older siblings Micro-ATX & Flex-ATX, mini-ITX is actually quite different in some very important ways
- The maximum mainboard size is only 170mm x 170mm, where Flex/Micro-ATX can be much bigger.
- A Mini-ITX PSU is less than 100 Watts.
Mini-ITX is backward-compatible with both Flex-ATX and Micro-ATX.
- 1.2. What is EPIA?
EPIA is a range of highly integrated motherboards from VIA. The first models featured:
Further models have enhanced the capabilities of the boards, adding USB 2.0 and Firewire support, and the CLE266 Chipset.
- Compact Mini-ITX form factor
- 15-Pin VGA with S-Video & Composite TV-Out
- Two 168-pin DIMM memory sockets
- VIA 10/100 Ethernet LAN onboard
- VIA Apollo PLE133 Chipset - Integrated AGP2X with 2D/3D Graphics Acceleration with motion compensation for DVD playback
- Sound Blaster, Sound Blaster Pro Compatible (with S/PDIF output shared with Composite video-out)
- 1 PCI slot
- 2 USB 1.1 ports. An optional 2 port USB 1.1 module may be connected to the motherboard.
- An embedded EBGA (Enhanced Ball Grid Array) VIA Eden or C3 CPU
- 1.3. What motherboards are currently available?
Several motherboards are available, some based on the VIA VT6010 Mini-ITX Form Factor Mainboard Reference Design (Eden 1000). Generally speaking, boards with Eden processors are passively cooled (fanless) and boards with C3 processors are actively cooled (they require a fan). VIA now have 7 boards in their range:
- EPIA 5000 - 533Mhz Fanless Eden / PLE 133 Chipset, announced Q2 2002
- EPIA 800 - 800Mhz C3 CPU / PLE 133 Chipset, announced Q2 2002
- EPIA ME6000 - 600Mhz Fanless Eden CPU / CLE 266 Chipset, released Q4 2002
- EPIA M9000 - 933Mhz Eden / CLE 266 Chipset, announced Q4 2002
- EPIA M10000 - 1GHz C3 CPU / CLE 266 Chipset, announced Q1 2003
- EPIA V8000 - 800Mhz C3 CPU / PLE 133 Chipset, announced Q1 2003
- EPIA V5000 - 533Mhz C3 CPU / PLE 133 Chipset, announced Q1 2003
Other Mini-ITX Form Factor boards are available, including the Lucky Star Live 1000, running a fanless 667Mhz Eden ESP 6000 CPU.
- 1.4. What connectors are available on the EPIA-800 and EPIA-5000 motherboards?
Connectors on the EPIA-5000 and EPIA-800 are:
- 2 Fan Connectors for a CPU fan and an additional system case fan
- 2 168 pin DIMM slots for PC100/133 SDRAM memory modules. Up to 1GB is supported
- ATX 20-pin Power Connector
- Standard PS/2 Mouse Connector
- Standard PS/2 Keyboard Connector
- LPT Connector - 25-pin Female Parallel Port supporting Enhanced Parallel Port (EPP) and Extended Capabilities Parallel Port (ECP) modes
- Standard RJ-45 port for connection to a Local Area Network (LAN)
- COM Port - 9-pin Male Serial Port Connector
- Audio Connectors - Line Out, Line In and Mic In
- 2 USB Ports - USB 1.1 compliant
- RCA Video or S/P DIF Port - dual function port provides either TV Out or 5.1 channel digital audio. An onboard jumper selects what the port is used for.
- S-Video Port - supports 640 x 480 and 800 x 600 in NTSC and PAL modes.
- CRT Connector - for connection to a VGA display
- 2 PCI IDE connectors - support Ultra DMA 33/66/100 modes. Both IDE1 and IDE2 can connect a master and a slave drive, allowing a maximum of 4 seperate devices. A DiskOn Module can be connected directly to one of the IDE connectors.
- Front panel connectors - Power Switch, Reset Switch, Power LED, HDD LED
- CD-ROM Line In connector
- Fast Infrared (FIR) Module connector *
- Consumer Infrared (CIR) Module connector *
- Wake On Modem Connector
- USB Port 2 & 3 Connector - to connect an additional 2 port USB module *
- Video In Connector - to connect an external video source *
- PCI Riser Card Connector *
- PCI Slot - a PCI Riser Card module can be used for a 2 PCI slot solution.
* For VIA Standard Modules Only
- 1.5. What jumpers are available on the EPIA-800 and EPIA-5000 motherboards?
- Clear CMOS
- Host Frequency Select - select between bus speeds of 66Mhz, 100Mhz and 133Mhz
- Auto Reboot Function Setting - when enabled, the system will reboot in the event of a power outage
- CPU Strapping Function Setting
- DOC Bios Select - Disk On Chip BIOS Select is a manufacturing option and may not be present
- RCA Video or S/P DIF Select
- 1.6. What is the Eden architecture?
The Eden range of CPU's especially tailored to low power applications. The CPU outputs very little heat, and only passive cooling is required under most circumstances. There are currently 3 models of Eden CPU:
- Eden ESP 4000 400Mhz , 100 MHz FSB (x4 muliplier), 128 KByte Level-1- and 64-KByte-Level-2-Cache, 1.05 Volt, 1.7Watts
- Eden ESP 5000 533MHz, 133 MHz FSB (x4 muliplier), 128 KByte Level-1- and 64-KByte-Level-2-Cache, 1.20 Volt, 2.8Watts
- Eden ESP 6000 666MHz, 133 MHz FSB (x5 muliplier), 128 KByte Level-1- and 64-KByte-Level-2-Cache, 1.20 Volt, 2.8Watts
Compare the ratings above with recent Athlon CPU's that consume 70Watts!
- 1.7. What applications best suit the Eden architecture?
Due to the limited raw CPU power of the Eden CPU, certain tasks are not ideal candidates for the range. Audio/Video playback and Network Routing/Firewalling are ideal candidates, certain video codec's are unlikely to be viable. Dont expect to be able to compress video or play modern games at any great speed on an Eden based system. The Eden fills a niche normally taken by dedicated (and relatively expensive) embedded systems.
- 1.8. What is the C3 architecture?
The C3 range of processors can share the same EBGA physical design as the Eden but are considerably more powerful, fairly similar or faster than Celeron processors of the same clock speed, but consuming less power. There are many models of C3 CPU:
- C3 700Mhz (7.0 x 100-MHz bus) VIA C3 Samuel 2, 5.81Watts Typical, 9.88Watts max
- C3 733Mhz (5.5 x 133-MHz bus) VIA C3 Samuel 2, 6.09Watts Typical, 10.35Watts max
- C3 750Mhz (7.5 x 100-MHz bus) VIA C3 Samuel 2, 6.23Watts Typical, 10.59Watts max
- C3 800Mhz (6.0 x 133-MHz bus) VIA C3 Samuel 2, 6.65Watts Typical, 11.30Watts max
- C3 800Mhz (8.0 x 100-MHz bus) VIA C3 Samuel 2, 6.65Watts Typical, 9.88Watts max
- C3 800Mhz (6.0 x 133-MHz bus) VIA C3 Ezra, 5Watts Typical, 8.5Watts max
- C3 800Mhz (8.0 x 100-MHz bus) VIA C3 Ezra, 5Watts Typical, 8.5Watts max
- C3 850Mhz (8.5 x 100-MHz bus) VIA C3 Ezra, 5.5Watts Typical, 9.3Watts max
- C3 866Mhz (6.5 x 133-MHz bus) VIA C3 Ezra, 5.6Watts Typical, 9.6Watts max
- C3 800Mhz (6.0 x 133-MHz bus) VIA C3 Ezra-T, x.xWatts Typical, 8.5Watts max
- C3 866Mhz (6.5 x 133-MHz bus) VIA C3 Ezra-T, x.xWatts Typical, 9.6Watts max
- C3 933Mhz (7.0 x 133-MHz bus) VIA C3 Ezra-T, x.xWatts Typical, x.xWatts max
The EPIA 800, M9000 and M10000 all use the Ezra-T core.
The C3 range of processors is under heavy R&D, the following CPU's are known to be planned
- nehemiah 0.13Ám C4 (C5X) 1.1-1.2GHz, Q3 2002 (SSE)
- nehemiah 0.13Ám C4 (C5XL) 1.2-1.5GHz, Q4 2002
- esther 0.10Ám C4 (C5Y) > 1.5Ghz, Q3 2003
- 1.9. Was there ever an "ITX" form factor?
There was an ITX form factor reference design, but no products have been released.
- 1.10. What if I want to upgrade my Mainboard or CPU?
The ZIF (Zero Insertion Force) socket on most modern motherboards make up a significant part of the manufacture cost. The EPIA Mainboards currently available have an integrated CPU to reduce costs and streamline production. The drawback of this is the CPU and Mainboard form one unit and are not upgradable.
1.11. What are the specifications of the CPU fan on the EPIA-800?
The Fan above the CPU Heatsink on the EPIA-800 is currently the C4010T12H. Its specifications are as follows:
- Voltage: 12V (Vdc)
- Current: 0.10 (Amps)
- Input Power: 1.20 (Watts)
- Speed 6200 (rpm)
- AirFlow 7.87 (CFM)
- Static Pressure 0.117 (inch/H2O)
- Noise 29.0 dB(A)
- Current: 0.10 (Amps)
- Weight 15 (gram)
- Width: 40 (mm square)
- Height: 11 (mm)
- 1.12. Will a 160GB drive work with my EPIA motherboard?
48 bit LBA is not supported on the first generation EPIA motherboards. The largest drive you will be able to attach is 136GB. Larger drives will be recognised as 136GB. EPIA M motherboards will support 48 bit LBA. One solution would be to use an IDE controller PCI card.
- 2.1. Can the EPIA platform run Linux/FreeBSD or any other x86 based Linux operating system?
The original EPIAs and EPIA Vs are very well supported under most recent kernels (EPIA 5000, EPIA 800, EPIA V5000, EPIA V8000).
The EPIA Ms are less well supported (EPIA ME6000, M9000, M10000). Drivers exist in binary format only for MPEG2 acceleration, Sound and USB 2.0. Some distributions will have problems. Check this thread.
- 2.2. Can the EPIA platform run Netware?
Netware 5.1 will run on the EPIA platform. Netware 6.0 will not, as it requires the processor to report it has the PAE feature (Physical Address Extension) - this problem also exists with the Pentium M processor.
- 3.1. What Kernel parameters should I use for EPIA motherboards with Eden/C3 processors?
Choose the Cyrix C3 processor type when compiling the Linux kernel. Also, be sure to include the VIA-Rhine network driver in the kernel or loadable module.
- 3.2. What should I do if I have poor quality sound (pops, clicks and squeaks) - particularly when dragging or scrolling windows?
This is caused by X writing blindly to the video card's instruction queue without checking to see if the queue is full. This will lock the PCI bus for about 40 - 50 audio cycles, causing pops, clicks and squeaks. The via82cxxx_audio driver is still somewhat fragile, so it is possible that some applications will fault ungracefully if the bus is disrupted badly enough (e.g. with SDL applications).
- You can make X play nicely with the PCI bus by adding
- Option "PciRetry" "true"
- to the "Device" stanza. Nasty pops and glitches will go away, and system stability will be much improved.
- 4.1. My Ethernet adapter refuses to work properly, or only works some of the time.
First of all, update your BIOS. Do you still have the problem? The onboard Ethernet of EPIAs is often the first thing to stop working when there is not enough power getting to the board. It does not necessarily mean the Ethernet port is broken. Check your PSU is capable of supporting all your devices. With a 55W PSU there is only 4.58A to play with at 12V, but this is enough to support a board, hard drive, slimline drive and most PCI cards. If you have a full size CDROM on there too, you're drawing too much power! There *was* a problem with very early Morex Cubid 2677 cases (with a similar PSU), but Morex have fixed this problem.
- 4.2. My 512MB DIMM isn't recognised, or refuses to work.
Update your BIOS to the latest version. Check you have compatible RAM - the EPIA motherboards can be rather picky.
- 4.3. My system hangs regularly, or freezes during Windows/Linux installation.
Update your BIOS to the latest version. Check you have compatible RAM - the EPIA motherboards can be rather picky.
- 4.4. I cannot get my EPIA M to display a picture on my TV after Windows has booted, even after selecting "TV" in the BIOS.
The display output device on EPIA Ms running Windows is determined both by the BIOS *and* the software graphics driver. A Windows PC boots in standard VGA graphics mode, then the current graphics driver kicks in. Attach your TV and monitor together, select CRT+TV in your BIOS (update your BIOS if you do not have this option) and boot normally. Both screens will boot, then the TV will go black. Open the display control panel, click the settings tab, then advanced, then S3Display. Select the TV so that a blue line goes around it and tick the box next to it. Click 'Apply' and the TV will display again. Adjust your device settings appropriately. If you have another PC there is an easier option - install VNC as a service onto the EPIA M and adjust the control panel from this PC instead.
- 5. About Mini-ITX.com
- 5.1. What is this site? Are you VIA?
This site is a privately-run independent site focussing primarily, but not exclusively, on the Mini-ITX range of motherboards first proposed as a reference design by VIA at the end of 2001. We are NOT VIA.
- 5.2. How do I get my project/news/supplier on the site?
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We add all suppliers we get, and we respond to most mails (apart from the ones with .scr attachments)
- 5.3. Do you carry advertising?
Make us an offer we can't refuse.
- 5.4. Can I buy any of this gear from you?
Yes, yes you can. Try www.mini-itx.com/store
- 5.5. Why don't you answer my emails?
It's nothing personal. We get a lot of them. Things can get very busy.
- 5.6. Are you going to have any forums?
Yes, once we finish answering your emails.
- 5.7. How do I submit a project?
We have a handy guide.. It's here. Please note that from August 25, 2003 we will only post original projects - i.e. projects not already on the web, that have not been submitted elsewhere. By submitting a project to us you are granting us exclusive use (though of course it still remains your property, and you may post it on your homepage).
- 5.8. Can I link to your site? Can I use your content?
You may link to our site. Feel free to use a picture, but do not remove the logo, and copy it to your server first. You may quote small sections of text. If you like, you can use our logo - they are here. You may not reproduce projects on this site, partially or entirely (see note above), and you may not reproduce our content - it took us literally minutes to write (sometimes longer), and is of course our copyright. Instead, link to us. It's always nice if you tell us you are linking to us - we like to make new friends!