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EPIA MII 12000 Review
Posted on May 18, 2004 Jump to:

Board Connectors, Headers & Jumpers

The interesting part of the EPIA M motherboard

As with previous EPIAs, VIA have managed to pack a lot of connectors and headers into a small space. The EPIA MIIs have the following connectors:

2 x IDE Hard Disk connectors, both supporting Ultra DMA 33/66/100/133. Up to 4 hard drives, optical drives or other IDE devices can be connected (2 per channel, configured as a Master and a Slave drive)

Case Connectors - somewhere to plug your Power and Reset switches, LEDs for Power, Hard Disk activity and Sleep mode (when the power is on but the machine is suspended), and a case speaker.

Fast IrDA Infrared Module Connector (FIR). We would recommend a USB-based ATI Remote Wonder to solve your remote control needs - it also works round corners...

USB 2.0 header, to attach 2 additional USB 2.0 ports. There are already 2 USB 2.0 ports tucked underneath the RJ-45 ethernet port. This is the yellow header in the picture. EPIA M and MII compatible cases often have headers for these.

Wake-On LAN connector - attaching this to a WOL compatible network card allows the system to be powered up when a signal is received through the card. On the classic EPIAs this is called Wake-On Modem and doesn't have the natty plastic housing the EPIA M has.

The Firewire header can be used to attach an additional Firewire port.

The EPIA M has a second serial port in header form, COM2. Useful for any number of serial applications without tieing up the external COM1 port.

Floppy Disk Drive Connector - for connecting 360K (!) to 2.88M floppy drives - thankfully not present on the classic EPIAs. Here at Mini-ITX we don't really see the point in floppy drives any more. The sooner they are eradicated from the world, the better. We've got the internet, CDRs are ten a penny and hold a bazillion times as much information, and we can even emulate a floppy image over a LAN using PXE. It's the evil looking black mass in the middle of the picture, but don't look at it directly - it'll put a hex on you.

CD-In Connector for routing audio directly from a CD drive. Not strictly required, as this can all be done digitally nowadays. An appropriate audio lead would usually come with your CD or DVD drive.

Front Audio Connector - the line out / microphone audio connectors can be disabled and routed to a front panel for convenient connection of additional audio devices. In Smart 5.1 mode these would be the rear audio connectors. The black header at the top left of the picture.

I2C Connector. A Small Area Network (SAN) is used to connect the Integrated Circuit (IC) components on a circuit board, or within a box or system. Components can be the PC, a keypad, LCD display, status indicators or switches and sensors. I2C is one such system - it's an Inter-Integrated Circuit Bus (geddit?). The classic EPIAs don't have this. Pretty useful if you're making a robot.

Gaping hole

Gaping hole for an optional LVDS Module Connector. Low Voltage Differential Signaling is a low power method for high-speed (gigabits per second) data transmission. LVDS is interesting because it uses 3 voltage levels instead of the usual binary method to encode data. at a higher maximum transfer rate. Used extensively in laptops as a flat panel display interface. We've never seen an LVDS Module equipped EPIA MII in retail, possibly a good thing for most would-be VAIO butchers as using these things isn't as easy as it looks. Super-small 10x5mm connector with 40 pins - not present on the classic EPIAs, but they have the equally unused Video In Connector and PCI Riser Card Connector instead.

As the MII doesn't have a parallel port due to space constraints, there is an LPT pin header to attach one.

There are two jumpers on the motherboard. The first clears the CMOS RAM, useful for clearing your BIOS settings after a disastrous RAM tweaking attempt. Only do this when the system is off. The second selects between RCA Video or S/PDIF output on the dual-purpose Video/Audio rear connector. It's the single red jumper, and starts life in the RCA position.

All EPIAs have ONE PCI Slot. Choose your card wisely. This isn't as bad as it sounds - USB sockets can be turned into second and third ethernet interfaces with appropriate adapters, and there is already on-board audio and a whole slew of standard interfaces. Probably the best use of the slot would be with a PVR card, or a decent 3D card (or a card supporting both functions).

Board Connectors, Headers and Jumpers -->


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