Home | News Archive | January 2003

"Aunt Hagar's Mini-ITX"
January 31, 2003

Greg Sowell's not afraid to show his feminine side - he built an EPIA 800 into a ladies vanity case utilising his very manly woodworking skills, and the ubiquitous Dremel. It's not for him - it's for his Aunt Hagar, honestly.

"Aunt Hagar's Mini-ITX"

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First Mini-ITX.com "Competition"
January 30, 2003

As what may or may not be the first of many competitions on Mini-ITX.com we're starting small... We'd like you to draw us a Favicon. It's that wee picture in the address bar that all the trendy sites have, and not all browsers can see. We had a go at drawing one, and it was rubbish. Somebody must be able to do better? We'll dish out appropriately small case badges for any decent Favicons sent to feedback@mini-itx.com - closing date 28th February (or until someone sends us one)

View the entrants so far in this fabulous competition (Update #8)

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The "Dreamcast PC"
January 30, 2003

Mini-ITX.com wouldn't be Mini-ITX.com without the occasional EPIA console conversion and today's no exception. Dremel should sponsor us.

Xiaolei Li's "Dreamcast PC"

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Lindows PC has "Instant On"
January 29, 2003

Taking a leaf out of VIA's Hi-Fi PC concept design - and beating it to market, Lindows have launched a low cost PC featuring "Instant On" media playback of DVDs, Audio CDs, MP3 CDs and VCDs. The "Lindows Media Computer" is housed in a black case from Casetek and is powered by an integrated motherboard featuring a C3 processor running at 933Mhz. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't an EPIA M - it has a PLE133 Northbridge, takes PC100/PC133 SDRAM and has USB 1.1 ports.

Elegent provide the etDVD BIOS-based DVD player, which fits onto an additional 256K EEPROM working in conjunction with the standard BIOS. The etDVD screenshots look suspiciously to us like the software included on the prototype Hi-Fi PC, which ran on a modified EPIA M motherboard. However the lack of EEPROM on the standard Ms will probably exclude them from any later 'upgrades' to include this functionality.

Lindows Media Hype

The Register's version of events

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Silencing a Chyang Fun E-Note
January 28, 2003

The Chyang Fun E-Note is a flawed beauty - a splendid case, compatible with the EPIA Ms but with a noisy PSU fan too powerful for the task. Using standard case modding techniques, Bo Christensen modified his E-Note to run at the volume we would expect, and sent us his findings. Whilst he was at it, he also (nearly) managed to run his EPIA M9000 without a fan, and got that running quieter too...

How Bo Christensen silenced his E-Note

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Chyang Fun E-Note Review
January 26, 2003

Chyang Fun Industry Co.,Ltd. based in Taipei, Taiwan has been manufacturing and assembling PC cases and server housings since 1987. Chyang Fun make a number of Aluminium and Plexiglass cases supporting Mini-ITX and Flex-ATX form-factors, varying the designs slightly to support different motherboards in their barebones systems. Their earlier CF-7989 aka "MiniCube" is a very popular case, supporting the EPIA 5000 and 800 motherboards. This variant of their CF-S688 case design - the "E-Note" - is their first case to support the more powerful EPIA M motherboards.

Chyang Fun E-Note Review

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Mini-ITX needs you!
January 25, 2003

We're always looking to improve the site, and there simply aren't enough hours in the day to do everything we would like to. 2003 will be the year we turn Mini-ITX.com into a more community-driven website. This is where you come in... Is there a topic you feel is missing from this website? Or could you write it? Have you already written something, and would like to see it here? In particular we're looking for well-written articles (short ones are OK) that relate to the reason why we're here - Mini-ITX form factor PCs. Send us an email - feedback@mini-itx.com

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Next EPIA will be 1GHz "Nehemiah"
January 22, 2003

The next generation of VIA's C3 processor will power the first EPIA to reach 1GHz, the EPIA M10000. This features the all-new "Nehemiah" core, which has a number of advantages over the current Ezra-T core powering the 933Mhz EPIA M9000. The Nehemiah keeps the low power and heat characteristics of current C3s (about 11.25W at 1Ghz). When coupled with the Apollo CLE266 chipset (as featured in the EPIA Ms), the "Coolstream" architecture manages quoted performance increases of 20% in office applications and 73% in 3D graphics applications. VIA have some interesting figures on there comparing the Nehemiah and CLE266 with existing C3s, Celerons and even Pentium 4s. Perhaps they should have also compared the volume of an average P4 fan against a C3 fan? Digit-life have done some testing too, so here's links to both:

VIA's comparisons with Ezra-T C3s, Celerons and Pentium 4s

"Nehemiah - VIA C3 Core and Its Prospects" at digit-life.com

VIA have also added a "PadLock" Data Encryption Engine to the die, which adds a random number generator to the x86 instruction set to allow extremely secure hardware-based data encryption. The Nehemiah core will support clock speeds of 1GHz and beyond, and for the more technically minded has four new pipeline stages, SSE multimedia instructions, "StepAhead" Advanced Branch Prediction, an efficiency enhanced 64KB Full-Speed Exclusive L2 cache with 16-way associativity, and a full-speed FPU. What we're trying to say is - because of this new chip, the M10000 will run a lot faster than the 67Mhz slower M9000. Unfortunately, the chip is available now, but the M10000 motherboard is still in pre-production.

Lots of C3 Processor information at VIA's site

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The "HTPC2"
January 21, 2003

Another sequel, this time to the HTPC we posted way back last July. This one's a Volvo S40. Because Clarre's from Sweden you see.. geddit?

Clarre Strand's Volvo S40 "HTPC2"

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The "Humidor M"
January 20, 2003

It had to happen, the EPIA M based "Humidor M"...

Jeffrey L Stephenson's Humidor M

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Wisembed's Mini-ITX based MBoX
January 14, 2003

Wisembed in South Korea sent us pictures of their Mini-ITX format motherboard, just out of Beta testing. This is intended for use in their MBox ip300 "Next generation" Windows CE.Net based DVD Player. Take a look at the close up - yes, that's a Sigma Designs EM8471 MPEG-4 Decoder chip to the right of the PCI slot! The board will support Linux and Windows (including WinCE) and uses a National Semiconductor Geode SC1200 processor running at 266Mhz.

The ports are very similar to the standard EPIAs, - a VGA port, 10/100 Ethernet RJ45 port, S/PDIF, S-Video, Composite video output (PAL or NTSC), Line-Out, Line-In and Microphone-In, PS/2 Mouse and Keyboard ports, and 2 USB ports. The audio ports on the beta unit appear to be of the more audiophile-friendly phono type, and the S/PDIF and Composite Video outputs look like seperate ports. Let's hope they keep these in the final product.

The 170 x 170mm board (name as yet unknown) takes two 168-pin DIMM memory sockets (supporting PC100 or PC133 RAM) and has the standard EPIA AC'97 onboard sound. We hope that Wisembed chose to produce a Mini-ITX form factor motherboard for their MBoX DVD Player with the intention of selling it separately - otherwise we might start seeing projects where people take DVD players and turn them back into PCs..

The use of a PC motherboard inside a DVD player is a very exciting development - "convergence" might just finally be happening. The MBoX represents a kind of middle ground between VIA's Hi-Fi PC concept and the new generation of media-format savvy DVD players, such as Kiss Technologies' DP-450, which recently released firmware to support Ogg Vorbis files.

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A502 Mini-ITX Case
January 14, 2003

Measuring 147 x 223 x 230mm, and supporting the EPIA 5000 and 800, the A502 Mini-ITX Case looks like a welcome addition to the (still small) range of Mini-ITX cases available. Unfortunately it looks like a Japan-only product and will only be of interest to our Japanese readers - like Tarragon and Freddy who found it. Shame, we like the vertically mounted slimline CDROM...

Nice-looking A502 Mini-ITX Case

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VIA Announce the EPIA V
January 13, 2003

As we reported back in November, VIA have released the EPIA V motherboard. This is essentially a standard EPIA with a floppy drive connector in place of one of the two IDE connectors on the EPIA. This is a feature that was arguably missing from the first Mini-ITX board, though personally we'd rather boot from CD and have 2 IDE channels! However some markets will find this a very welcome addition to the growing range.

VIA's EPIA V Mainboard Information Page

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The "Legobox"
January 08, 2003

It's been a while since we posted a Mini-ITX project so our New Year's resolution is to post more, more often. This one has the huge advantage that the top is customisable to display any kind of Lego scene you require. And if it's too small - add some more blue bricks. Personally, we prefer to spend our time with more serious matters...

Todd Ripplinger's Legobox

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EPIA M BIOS updated (last year...)
January 06, 2003

We forgot to mention - the EPIA M BIOS is now at 10B (since December 17, 2002) and enables the "CRT+TV" option in the BIOS setup menu.

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Lian Li PC-402A Review
January 04, 2003

Lian Li Industrial Co., Ltd, based Taiwan have been producing aluminum PC cases since 1983. The PC-402A is a versatile case supporting many small motherboards, including all the EPIA Mini-ITX motherboards.

Lian Li PC-402A Review or just look at the pictures...

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