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Home | News Archive | November 2003

Niveus Media's Blackbox Personal Server
November 26, 2003

Niveus Media, a young systems company specialising in entertainment devices hailing from San Jose, California, has announced their 'Blackbox' Personal Server, available for purchase in December

The Blackbox is an EPIA CL6000-based Mini-ITX server, aimed at the home market, and with a particular focus on storing and backup of media files. But not, sadly, on explaining mysterious aviation accidents.

Principal features include 128MB of DDR266 memory, a choice of hard drives ranging up to a mammoth 300GB, and a wireless 802.11g adapter due early next year. Niveus' own Server Suite software is used for remote file management through a browser, or through a terminal.

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Petition Day Two
November 25, 2003

Support for the "Free EPIA" movement has proven rather popular - 1500 signatories at the time of writing, in just over 24 hours. Comments left have ranged from the witty to the wise, sometimes both. Lets hope VIA take the time to read them all and perhaps even change their minds. The petition was so popular yesterday, it made the Top 10 Most Active Petitions at PetitionOnline.com - at the number 3 spot! Let's keep it going and see just how many signatures we can get...

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Sign our online petition!!
November 24, 2003

Time for a bit of fun, and an experiment - and maybe we'll give VIA some food for thought. We'd like VIA to change policy and release *all* their EPIA motherboards into distribution, and not keep some of them back - many with rather desirable features - just for the IPC market. As mentioned before, the boards are reaching distribution in the US by roundabout means anyway, so why not release them officially? LVDS boards would allow us to attach LCD/TFT screens directly to our EPIAs, and the EPIA TC has that very desirable 12V DC-DC Converter onboard. We admit - we'd probably have huge difficulties getting our TFT to work properly, and would blow up our TC by plugging it into a car battery without any voltage regulation then revving the engine, but we'd like to at least have a go - a few minutes browsing these pages demonstrates that the Mini-ITX community are an inventive lot, and some of us will work it out. It will be interesting to see just how many signatures we get anyway - so to get the ball rolling we'll send a fabulous case badge bounty to the first 10 people from different countries to sign up and then email us with their postal address and a nice message... (update - we've run out of stamps)

Sign Our Online Petitionat PetitionOnline.com

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VIA announce the EPIA MII
November 23, 2003

VIA have announced the EPIA MII (first spotted at CeBIT - in almost identical form), essentially an EPIA M with a Cardbus Type 1/2 and CompactFlash slot - which should come in very handy for all sorts of applications. Like existing EPIA Ms, the MII will be available in 2 versions, the MII 6000 (fanless Eden CPU) and the MII 10000 (fanned C3 CPU). Full specifications: CLE266 North Bridge and VT8235 South Bridge; 1 x DDR266 DIMM socket supporting 1GB memory; Onboard CardBus type I & II and CF reader (Ricoh R5C476 II / R5C485 CardBus Corntroller); 6 channel audio; 10/100 LAN, PS2 Mouse & Keyboard, Serial, 2 x USB 2.0, VGA, RCA (S/PDIF or TV-Out), Firewire, 3 x audio ports; PCI slot, 2 x IDE ports, 1 x floppy connector, and the usual array of onboard header connectors, including the tantalisingly so-near-yet-so-far "Connector for LVDS module (Optional)" - i.e. for the IPC market only. At the time of writing there's no drivers on the download page of VIA's MII page, but we're sure these boards can't be that far away now - perhaps Santa will be nice to us.

VIA's specifications for the EPIA MII

Sign up to receive early bird purchasing informationhere

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Mini-ITX Pictures from Comdex
November 22, 2003

We've got some pictures from the Robot Petting Zoo at Comdex 2003 in Las Vegas, including more pictures of the MediaReady 4000, the Worldvibrations Radio Station, and of course lots of robots...

The Robot Petting Zoo at Comdex

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A Real Working Nano-ITX Picture
November 21, 2003

We thought you'd be interested in a real picture of a working Nano-ITX board. Earlier pictures are of prototype boards that don't have all the connections between the different chips on the board. The 12 x 12cm Nano-ITX will come with a power daughterboard that can either take a 12V DC input or a standard ATX power connector - this daughterboard connects to the power pins situated next to the I/O ports.

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The Worldvibrations Radio Station
November 20, 2003

Worldvibrations have announced a new EPIA M-based broadcasting system aimed at schools, artists, hobbyists, small business and communities.

The Worldvibrations Radio Station consists of a silent Hush case containing an EPIA M10000 and VIA's high quality Envy24 audio controller. In stock form, the device supports Windows Media, Ogg Vorbis, Real Media or MP3 formats and can operate as a production studio, a live 'on-air studio' with microphone and console inputs, or as a scheduling playback station with amplifier outputs.

The idea is to bring web and local broadcasting to the masses, and this looks like a bargain compared to the usual kit required to set up a broadcast environment. Although a license and separate transmitter are required for normal radio transmissions, we still reckon a few blood vessels might be popping in the RIAA's boardrooms right about now...

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The 912 Robot Platform from White Box
November 19, 2003

White Box Robotics have been demonstrating their prototype Mini-ITX based "912" Robot Platform this week at VIA's robot "Petting Zoo" at Comdex in Las Vegas. Like any Robo-PC worth its salt, the 912 can move around the house playing MP3s, but whether removing a restraining bolt will allow it to project holographic messages from its databanks remains to be seen. The 912 will be comandeering escape pods sometime in 2004.

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VWB's MediaREADY 4000 at Comdex
November 18, 2003

Video Without Boundaries have been showing their MediaREADY 4000 at Comdex – an EPIA M10000 powered multelemediaphotimeshiftingtunerpc. The MediaREADY 4000 is the first commercial product based on CAC Media's Linux-based MediaReady Convergence Software Suite. VWB have thoughtfully included a Sigma Designs EM8475 MPEG-4 decoder chip, and being a full Mini-ITX PC, the 4000 can also be used to check your email on the telly and has the full gamut of interfaces - including Firewire, USB 2.0, S-Video, RCA TV-Out (NTSC/PAL) and 10/100 Ethernet.

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Mini-ITX robot vehicle in desert race
November 17, 2003

Seth Cabe's VIA-sponsored Team Loghiq has qualified in the final 19 teams to enter a robotic-vehicle race with a prize fund of $1 million. The DARPA Grand Challenge grew out of a Defense Department mandate to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicle technologies for military purposes. So if Seth beats contenders on March 13, 2004 from Carnegie Mellon University and the California Institute of Technology, his ideas could be used to operate the unmanned combat vehicles of the future - unless DARPA goes into the robot vacuum cleaner business. The 250 mile course between Los Angeles and Las Vegas will require the computer-driven vehicles to drive through or around a variety of terrain including sand, mud, boulders, ditches and barbed wire. GPS navigation is allowed, but won't work on at least one overpass. Time to update your website Seth!

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"R2D2PC"
November 12, 2003

In another life, R2D2PC and a team of astromechs served the elected monarch of Naboo aboard her Royal Starship. Many adventures and the careless loss of two Death Stars later, Jedi Padewan Andreas Bartelt ripped Artoo's guts out and built himself a completely fanless router and MP3 player running OpenBSD 3.4, driven by an EPIA CLE 6000 Mini-ITX board.

Andreas Bartelt's "R2D2PC"

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Hoojum announce Cubit 3T
November 10, 2003

Hoojum Design in the UK have announced the Cubit 3T case kit, rather like the Cubit 3, but with clear acrylic front and back panels and a lower price tag. The Cubit 3T supports all VIA Mini-ITX motherboards and has the same built-in features as the Cubit 3: Choice of 12 colours, Infra-Red receiver, Front mounted Firewire, i-Link and USB 2.0 ports, optional internal CF reader, support for 2.5" and 3.5" hard drives and 3 different 12V DC power supplies. Although the built-in 6-in-1 card reader is sacrificed, the design accommodates *any* slim optical drive (tray or slot loading), not just the slot drives featured in the aluminium fronted model.

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"Project NFF - Nano Form Factor"
November 09, 2003

Mini-ITX regular Jeffrey L. Stephenson couldn't wait for a Nano-ITX board, so he found an alternative with (almost) the same dimensions, and built himself an MP3 player.

Jeffrey L. Stephenson's "Project NFF - Nano Form Factor"

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VIA announce the EPIA TC
November 07, 2003

VIA have officially announced the EPIA TC ("Thin Client") Mini-ITX motherboard. Like the CL and M, the TC is available either with a fanless 600Mhz Eden processor (TC6000) or with a 1GHz Nehemiah processor (TC10000). Specifications are as reported a few weeks ago, and include support for a number of LVDS embedded LCD panels as well as: C3/Eden processor support; CLE266 North Bridge and VT8235 South Bridge; 1 x 200-pin DDR266 SODIMM socket supporting 1GB memory (SODIMMs are smaller than 184-pin DDR SDRAM modules); Onboard CardBus type II and CF reader (RICOH 476 II Module design); VT1612A 2 channel AC'97 audio; and most interestingly of all: a DC-in socket leading to the 12V, 5A, 60W Max DC to DC converter... though we are unsure at this stage whether the TC could be used in vehicles without additional voltage protection circuitry.

Now for the bad news - it looks like we won't see the rather desirable TC in the shops, as it's "not for the distribution channel". The nearest we'll see in the short term will be the forthcoming EPIA MII motherboard, with a CF reader, but without the onboard 12V DC-DC converter and LVDS support. VIA do now make EPIA boards with LVDS/TTL support, but these are intended for the IPC market and are "not for distribution". The EPIA M, CL and MII for distribution do not have an LVDS connector on board and do not have a BIOS that will support LVDS/TTL modules. We're not quite sure why VIA makes this distinction between customers, though the embedded market does count for a lot of Mini-ITX sales. A quick google shows that LVDS Mini-ITX boards are reaching distribution in the US anyway - so why not make it official? Hopefully we're wrong, or VIA change their minds...

EPIA TC Motherboard Specifications

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SilentPCReview the Hush Mini-ITX
November 06, 2003

SilentPCReview.com, gurus of all silent computery type things, have reviewed the Hush Mini-ITX PC - we thought you might like to know...

SilentPCReview the Hush Mini-ITX

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Tranquil announce Smooth Server
November 05, 2003

Tranquil PC Ltd and Smooth Wall Ltd, both in the UK have introduced the Tranquil Smooth Server (TSS). The Linux-based TSS is based on the silent Tranquil PC chassis, driven by a choice of EPIA M10000 or EPIA CL 10000 Mini-ITX motherboards, and includes SmoothWall Corporate Server 3.0. The TSS appliance is designed to inexpensively provide 24/7 internet sharing and firewalling facilities for end users, schools and smaller businesses. Optional Smooth Wall modules can further enhance functionality with web content filtering, VPN tunneling and Internet access control. All the modules integrate into an easily configured web browser-based GUI. Other options introduced today include a PCI ADSL modem installed at the factory and a twin PCI TSS allowing up to 4 LAN sockets (in combination with the EPIA CL). The Smooth Server measures just 63 (H) x 255 (D) x 340 (W) mm, and is available immediately.

Tranquil PC and Tranquil Smooth Server - at our online store

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