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Home | News Archive | May 2004

EPIA SP to preview at Computex
May 28, 2004

VIA will be previewing the first EPIA Mini-ITX motherboard to feature the CN400 chipset next week at Computex 2004 in Taipei. The EPIA SP will be powered by the same C5P core C3 processor used in the recent EPIA MII 12000, meaning it will have AES encryption/decryption and 2 random number generators in hardware. As usual for VIA, there will be two versions when it is eventually released later in the summer - a passively cooled Eden "E" version (the 800MHz SP 8000E), and a faster actively cooled C3 version of the board (the 1.3GHz SP 13000).

The CN400 chipset consists of VIA's CN400 North Bridge, which includes the enhanced S3 Unichrome Pro graphics core - giving amongst other things full MPEG-2 decoding, MPEG-4 acceleration and HDTV graphics resolutions. The VT8237 South Bridge provides the board's connectivity, including SATA and V-RAID, supporting RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID+1 arrays, as well as 6-channel surround sound. Regular readers will remember that the CN400 chipset will be used in the EPIA N (Nano-ITX) boards later this year.

The back panel has: 2 x PS/2, Serial, VGA, Ethernet, 2 x USB 2.0, S-Video, RCA/SPDIF, 3 x Audio Jacks. On the board: 1 x PCI Slot, 2 x SATA, 2 x IDE, 1 x DDR400 DIMM slot. Selected pin headers: Firewire, 6 x USB 2.0, VIP, Serial. Chips (from the left): VIA C3 or Eden CPU, CN400 North Bridge, VT8237 South Bridge. Full specifications here.

Set top box manufacturers will be looking at the combination of quiet operation, AES encryption, MPEG acceleration and video input potential (through VIP and optional LVDS pin headers on the board) with interest...

We'll be at Computex too, and there may even be a working Nanode for the perusal of a lucky few. The VIA stand is in Hall 2, booth F181.

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Mapower introduces KC3000 Case
May 27, 2004

Mapower Electronics Corp in Taiwan sent us this covert picture of an incredibly small dinosaur practising Aikido in the mirrored front of one of their forthcoming Mini-ITX enclosures, the KC3000. Either that or little Rex here is trying to breed with it. The rather natty case follows the style of their KC range of hard drive enclosures and will be around later in the summer.

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AMD launch Geode NX CPUs
May 25, 2004

AMD have introduced a new range of low power consumption Geode CPUs, based upon their Mobile Athlon architecture. The Geode NX is Socket A compatible, and will be available in 1Ghz and 1.4Ghz versions. AMD have also introduced the inevitable numbering scheme to describe performance and power consumption - the two versions will be called the Geode NX 1500@6W, and the Geode NX 1750@14W. The earlier Geode GX2 CPU has been renamed the Geode GX533@1.1W (which runs at 400Mhz), and gains some siblings - the Geode GX466@0.9W and the Geode GX500@1.0W.

The NX1500@6W version requires no cooling fan and typically consumes 6W at 1Ghz, peaking at 9W under load, utilising AMD's PowerNow! power saving technology. Our picture shows one nestling in AMD's DB1500 Mini-ITX form factor development board, but we'll have to wait for another manufacturer to take advantage of the promise of the NX range, as the DB1500 isn't priced or targetted at the consumer market. AMD purchased the Geode line from National Semiconductor last August - the same company who sold Cyrix to VIA in 1999.

Intel is finally looking at reducing power consumption too, and have brought forward plans to use a dual-core architecture to reach higher levels of performance without melting through the base of your computer. It's unlikely we'll see these in a Mini-ITX anytime soon, but their newly announced (and dutifuly numbered) Dothan range of Pentium M mobile CPUs certainly will.

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"ERN005PC" (KANA)
May 24, 2004

Katsuya Matsumura has a penchant for computers with character, and collaborated with Kanna Higashi to create the "ERN005PC" (aka, KANA). KANA is powered by an EPIA CL10000, and constructed from PVC piping, Polystyrene foam and the marvelously named Micro-Hollow-Globular-Resin-Clay. KANA isn't the first electronic woman Katsuya has constructed for himself, which raises several questions - and we're not sure if we want to know the answers. KANAs can even be maid to order. Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that Katsuya and Kanna hail from Japan.

Kanna Higashi & Katsuya Matsumura's "ERN005PC" (KANA)

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VIA details a secure, efficient C5J "Esther"
May 21, 2004

VIA has released details of their forthcoming C5J "Esther" processor core. Building on the success of the Nehemiah's PadLock Hardware Security Suite, "Esther" adds execution (NX) protection and support for more encryption standards - Montgomery Multiplier support for RSA encryption, and secure Hash algorithms in both SHA-1 and SHA-256 flavours. NX keeps malicious code from spreading in the computer's memory - look out for NX support in the upcoming Windows Service Pack 2.

Esther is lean too. Power consumption is an amazing 3.5W at 1 GHz. Other features: support for an 800 Mhz Front Side Bus, and a larger L2 cache.

Ultimately, VIA claims the new architecture will handle processor speeds of 2GHz and above. Esther was designed by VIA subsiduary Centaur Technology, and will be manufactured by IBM at their 300mm (12 inch) foundry in East Fishkill, New York.

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Cyberscrub locks down first PadLock Cert
May 20, 2004

A software suite promising military grade cyber security has become the first to lock down VIA's new PadLock Certification. This lets software developers speed up security functions while freeing up the processor. The trick? An on-the-die Random Number Generator and wickedly fast Advanced Cryptography Engine. Look for the new technology in the C5P Nehemiah C3 and Eden CPUs, and the mobile Antaur processor.

CyberScrub Professional Edition 3.5 is a high end software security package designed to beat advanced computer forensics.

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EPIA MII 12000 Review
May 18, 2004

The EPIA MII 12000 is the latest EPIA MII motherboard from VIA, the first EPIA to include the latest "C5P" Nehemiah C3 CPU with VIA's Padlock Advanced Cryptography Engine - and still just 170 x 170mm in size. We've taken this opportunity to review the MII 12000 in comparison with all of the other currently available 1Ghz C3 CLE266 chipset EPIA motherboards.

EPIA MII 12000 Review

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Custom Cases from Exotic Wood Crafts
May 14, 2004

Fancy going against the grain? Tempted to branch into something unique? Does your (ar)bor-ing room need tree-vitalising? Here's one product to get your sap rising - barking mad real wood enthusiasts Exotic Wood Crafts offer a tree-mendous range of computer cases in real wood veneer, and sent us this picture of a Mini-ITX compatible Cubid 3688 in gorgeous Madrone Burl to prove it, designed in collaboration with Jeffrey L Stephenson. Knot only that, but if none of these grow on you, joist send them your current plane old case and they'll spruce it up it in any number of exotic finishes. Its just a two or tree week turnaround for what they hope to be a poplar service so don't mallet over too long and leaf it too late, as you might have to joiner queue.

Exotic Wood Crafts are hoping to conker the world with these, making lesser cases bough down before them. We suggest you log on to their site immediately to teak a look at many cases that wooden look out of place in any executive board-room, and have your friends pining for one too. And unlike some of the spam we receive, this company can genuinely guarantee that if you order from them, you will get wood.

This is an interactive article - email us your acorny gags! Planks so far to awl these people: Gary, Jason, William, Stanton and Douglas fir their contributions, and particulary Matt and Eric...

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"Eve" - Eden-N based x86 Handheld
May 12, 2004

The Ministry of Mobile Affairs, a San Diego startup headed by two MIT graduates have a mission: to "lead the unified international effort to secure mobility", and to "ensure liquidity of borders, welcome the mobile masses and free the fun"... To do this, they've announcedEve, the first x86 compatible mobile gaming console. Eve is based upon VIA's new Grace platform, a low power consumption, high performance platform not dissimilar to that found on the forthcoming EPIA N motherboards.

Grace features the ultra-small Eden-N CPU, CN400 chipset with MPEG2 decoding and MPEG4 acceleration, and VT8237 Southbridge, and is by accounts a little thinner than the EPIA N, with slightly different I/O ports.

On Eve, this currently translates to a 533MHz Eden-N CPU, S3 Unichrome Pro Integrated Graphics, 640x480 pixel 4" TFT screen, 128MB DDR266 SDRAM, 20GB Hard Drive, 2 x USB 2.0 ports, Microphone and Headphone sockets, Compact Flash slot, Smartcard slot, S-Video NTSC/PAL TV Out and integrated 802.11b Wireless LAN. The device is to be powered through a DC-In jack or using two hotswappable Lithion-Ion batteries, and MoMA plan to make the screen detachable, and the controllers swappable for different games. We don't know if one of these replacement controllers will be a wee keyboard, but we could always plug into one of the USB 2.0 ports.

Eve runs Windows XP Embedded edition, so it should boot quickly and be able to run PC games and applications (perhaps not Unreal Tournament, but we'll certainly be trying), and of course it will be able to playback music and video. Considering the Grace platform is x86 based, and seeing as one of the founders previously hacked XBoxes for fun, we would imagine installing Linux onto one of these puppies shouldn't be too difficult. It will be interesting to see how the Unichrome Pro graphics will compare against two other devices previewed this week, Sony's PSP and Nintendo's DS - but neither will be able to match the functionality of Eve for other purposes.

Update: The Inquirer has some nice pictures

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