Home | News Archive | October 2002

The "PlayStation2 PC"
October 29, 2002

After our shameless plug yesterday, we thought we'd better offer you another project. Here it is - Jason Lawton's PlayStation2 PC. That's almost a full set of EPIAs inside o'consoles. Next up: some case reviews.

Jason Lawton's PlayStation2 PC

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International shipping costs reduced
October 27, 2002

We're pleased to announce that the mini-itx.com online store has, by the simple method of changing its international courier service, reduced its costs dramatically. Typical savings range from 25% to 80% (!!). The store is the way we keep the site running, and though we try not to mix the business side of the site with the erm, pleasure side too much, it's got to be pushed occasionally... So shop now! Buy lots of things!

Mini-ITX Online Store, where Mini-ITX dreams can come true :-)

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Mini-ITX BIOS updated to version 205
October 26, 2002

VIA have updated the Mini-ITX BIOS to version 205 (we're not sure what happened to 204) This version updates the PXE bootrom to revision 2.13. Some users have reported that BIOS revisions from 203 and later allow 512MB DIMMs to work, particularly when used in pairs. Useful to know!


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Pre-Production EPIA-M Tested
October 24, 2002

We got our grubby mitts on a pre-production EPIA-M yesterday, and have been putting it through its paces. It's NOT a final EPIA-M - they are still some weeks away. But it's pretty close. We haven't tested anything else yet, but to whet your appetites here's what we found when we tested its video playback capabilities:

Pre-Production EPIA-M Review - Video Playback

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Bleu Jour launch the "B1 Box"
October 22, 2002

Bleu Jour, in association with the French reseller Bacatá, have released the "B1 Box", a French-manufactured barebones system featuring the EPIA 800 motherboard. The rather stylish looking case is made from anodized aluminium, with a fibreglass front. The B1 Box measures 230 x 205 x 190 mm, and has space internally for two 3.5" hard drives - making them ideally suited to server and storage applications. The cases have a front 5.25" Bay, optional 50mm rear fan and 120W Flex-ATX PSU.

The B1 Box will be initially available in black, yellow and blue (as ably demonstrated by our models here) - other colours will follow shortly.

B1 Box Press Release (in cooperation with VIA)

Manufacturer's website

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Hi-Fi PC to play DVDs from BIOS
October 21, 2002

VIA's Hi-Fi PC will play CDs and DVDs straight from a program called "PlayNow!" sitting in the BIOS. Without the overheads of an operating system loading from hard disk, a DVD or MP3 CD will play from startup in about 5 seconds. The OS will boot as normal if no DVD is present. Currently PlayNow! won't play content from a connected hard drive, just from a CD/DVD. The Hi-Fi PC won't be sold direct by VIA, but will be provided to manufacturers in a barebones form - they will add their own branding. Although the imminent EPIA-M is at the heart of the Hi-Fi PC, the extended BIOS functionality won't be - licensing issues have prevented this. Shame! Incidentally - though VIA haven't admitted it, we're pretty sure we've tracked down who made their prototype Hi-Fi PC. Check out the LCD here and the speakers here... ;-)

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Nehemiah Road Map at MPF2002
October 18, 2002

Digit-Life again have some interesting information about VIA's roadmaps for their future processors, based on the Nehemiah core. They give a few clues as to what might happen in the future with the processors at the heart of the EPIA platform. The C5XL core will probably be a significant short-term step, offering SSE support running at about 1.5Ghz. We won't see them in EPIAs for a while yet though.

Eden Road Map at Digit Life

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Netbox launch the "CUBIT"
October 17, 2002

Netbox are a UK-based startup with an impressive new product - the "CUBIT". It's a PC with design and character, hand finished and assembled from 5mm Aluminium or Plexiglas in 5 colours. And of course at the heart of it all is a Mini-ITX motherboard, surrounded by a 60 Gb Drive, 512 Mb memory, combo CDR/RW/DVD drive and modem. Netbox can even customise your case for you, by cutting a logo into one of the side panels.

The CUBIT at Netbox.co.uk

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The "BriefCasePC"
October 17, 2002

Ninny's BriefCase PC

Mini-ITX Project Page

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Nothing to see here
October 15, 2002

This is not the link you are looking for. Move along. (updated)

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More Hi-Fi PC Pictures
October 14, 2002

Whilst we're talking about VTF 2002 - here's some more pictures of the EPIA-M based Hi-Fi Concept PC that VIA demonstrated. They get bigger if you click them.

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Eden Road Map at VTF2002
October 14, 2002

Digit-Life have some interesting slides from VTF2002 showing the Eden and C3 CPU roadmaps for the next year. The low power consumption Eden CPU will move first to 800Mhz (ESP 8000), then to 1Ghz (ESP 10K) and the C3 is moving to 1Ghz and above. It looks like both these chips are moving towards the Nehemiah core. But what's of most interest is the Eden Chip Set Road Map, which shows MPEG2 acceleration, USB 2 and multiple display support in 2002 and adds MPEG4, DirectX 9 and Serial ATA support in 2003. This gives us more idea of what the elusive EPIA M and next year's EPIA 2 will be capable of.

Eden Road Map at Digit Life

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Jetway B860T Review
October 12, 2002

Although we focus primarily on Mini-ITX motherboards, there are alternatives. The Shuttle range of barebones systems eloquently show what can be done with more money, and where money is no object the MicroPC will set many a weeny pc lover's heart a fluttering. But at the low cost end of the market, the EPIA 5000 and 800 have had the run of the roost for the past 6 months. Mark "EdenStation IPX" Gill has taken a look at the Jetway B860T - a motherboard with many similarities and some important differences from the current line of EPIAs.

Mark Gill's Jetway B860T Review

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The "E.T. PC"
October 11, 2002

Peter Li staged his own alien autopsy and went one stage further - strengthening and then filling E.T.'s guts with an EPIA 800. Ouch. He's added some nice touches, like a voice module and the obligatory finger light. Peter is planning to make a series of Mini-ITX-inside-o'Toys as Christmas presents for his close friends and family. Let's just hope the children don't have to give up their fluffy toys for such butchery first...

Peter Li's E.T.PC

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VIA shows EPIA-M Concept PC
October 10, 2002

VIA were showing their Hi-Fi PC at the VIA Technology Forum 2002 today. The Hi-Fi PC Concept Design utilises the EPIA-M motherboard to create a "universal CD/DVD/VCD audio/video player with standard compact PC functionality". The aluminium case measures 190x190x340mm. VIA won't be building it, but partners are expected to put the design (or something like it) into production in Q1 2003.

VIA Technology Forum 2002

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RealMagic XCard Review
October 09, 2002

The RealMagic XCard was released by Sigma Designs earlier this year, and seems ideally suited to beefing up the DVD, VCD and DivX video playback capabilities of a Mini-ITX motherboard. We tried one and found out...

Sigma Designs RealMagic XCard Review

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Final EPIA-M Specifications Released
October 08, 2002

VIA have updated their website with product pages for the EPIA-M motherboard. The EPIA-M takes the EPIA concept several stages further, bringing the Apollo CLE266 chipset to the table for smooth DVD playback and integrated 2D/3D graphics, and combining it with the VT1616 AC'97 codec for 5.1 surround support. Beefed-up connectivity comes courtesy of 2 x USB 2.0 ports on the back panel, and 2 x IEEE 1394 (Firewire) connectors and a LVDS (flat panel) connector on the mainboard. The EPIA-M has one DDR266 DIMM socket, one PCI slot and a floppy connector - and still measures 170 x 170mm. Pricing and release dates are currently unknown, but we can confirm that the EPIA-M will complement, rather than replace, the existing EPIA motherboards.

More details to follow, but in the meantime - VIA's EPIA-M

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New Mini-ITX cases from Casetek
October 06, 2002

Casetek CK1010-1A (Blue)

Casetek CK1010-1B (Black)

Casetek have posted pictures of their new Mini-ITX case, the CK1010. The 260 x 135 x 298.5mm case comes in 3 variants and two colours. The CK1010-1A has space for a low-profile PCI card, a standard CD-ROM and a 3.5" Hard Drive. The CK1010-1B dispenses with the CD-ROM support in favour of a 3.5" FDD bay, and the CK1010-1N dispenses with removable drives altogether in favour of support for a full-size PCI card. There is enough space in the cases to fit boards up to 180 x 190mm, so some smaller Flex-ATX boards may fit as well as the standard 170 x 170mm Mini-ITX boards. All cases come with an internal 150W Power Supply.

Manufacturer's Product Pages

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Morex Cubid 2688R Review
October 03, 2002

We got hold of a Morex Cubid 2688R yesterday and liked what we saw. Then we took lots of pictures of it for you. An evolutionary step on the 2677R, it provides additional front-mounting USB ports and a space for an optional compact flash reader.

Morex Cubid 2688R Review

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