Home | News Archive | September 2004

Vent-Box Mini-ITX PCs
September 21, 2004

Vent-Box PCs mount their components vertically to facilitate cooling of their tall and slender Aluminium bodies. Needless to say these curiosities hail from Japan, home of the Spherical PC. And we want one.

The VENT-PC1 packs in an ME6000 Mini-ITX board, 60GB 2.5in hard drive, 512MB memory and vertically mounted slot-loading DVD-RAM drive, all in an 215 x 118 x 170 mm enclosure (excluding the legs). The VENT-PC3 looks less like an occasional table and more like a rather stylish miniature radiator - this time in an 225 x 56 x 360 mm enclosure - and comes with either an acrylic stand or VESA mounts.

The A-Storage is a companion external Firewire drive in the same style, with 2 x 250GB 3.5in hard drives in a fault tolerant configuration.

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VIA's new CPU naming convention
September 20, 2004

VIA have decided that the next generation of C3 procesor ("Esther" core) will be called the C7. There will be a version targetted for mobile use called the C7-M, which will include power saving technology. The existing mobile C3 processor (previously called "Antaur") has been renamed as the C3-M.

VIA currently has 4 CPUs: C3, C3-M, Eden ESP and Eden-N. VIA will continue to make the existing C3 processors. The addition of the C7 and C7-M sometime next year will bring this total to 6.

The Eden ESP brand will remain - any processor that burns less than 7W and can be passively cooled is deemed to be an Eden processor. VIA expects to be able to reach around 1.2GHz at 7W with the Esther core, so we should see fanless Eden ESPs and Eden-Ns at 1.2GHz next year.

The numerical leap isn't as daft as it seems... C4 is the name of an explosive (customs officials wouldn't appreciate it..), and the processor cores already have codenames such as C5XL and C5P. The codename for Esther is C5J.

VIA announce new processor naming convention

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The "Gramaphone-ITX-HD"
September 17, 2004

Tony Greenberg wanted to build the classiest system in all of HTPC Land. He was looking around the room to draw inspiration from his decor when it hit him. His case was already there - on top of his stereo rack, was an antique Gramophone beckoning to be restored and upgraded...

Tony Greenberg's "Gramaphone-ITX-HD"

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VIA's Padlock Tru-Delete
September 16, 2004

Hot on the heels of the Padlock SDK comes Padlock Tru-Delete, a hard drive scrubbing tool optimised for use with recent VIA processors.

Tru-Delete fills up all free space on your drive, including previously deleted files with random data, courtesy of the hardware Random Number Generator found in VIA CPUs with the C5XL core and beyond. In terms of current and future Mini and Nano-ITX boards, that would be the M10000, CL10000, TC10000 and PD10000 (all C5XL core with hardware RNG) and the MII 12000, and soon the SP8000E, SP13000, MS8000E, MS12000, and eventually the N5000E, N8000E, and N10000E (all C5P core, additionally with hardware AES encryption).

Source code and executables are available for Windows 2000/XP, Linux and Windows CE over at viaarena.com. They also have a themed competition.

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Intel almost release Mini-ITX board
September 14, 2004

Intel are trialling "Shelton" in the Asian market - a new low-power processor (and competitor to AMD's Sempron), based on the P6/Pentium M "Banias" architecture. Shelton seems to boast a 130nm fabrication process and no Level 2 cache but looks to be 40% faster than at least one flavour of C3 at 1GHz.

A supporting motherboard - the D845GVSH - is available in a "Micro-ITX" form-factor. Judging by the screw holes it is about 170 x 190mm, making it fractionally larger than Mini-ITX [slaps forehead]...

Specifications (we think): Passively cooled 1Ghz Intel Shelton CPU, i845GV Chipset with on-board Intel Extreme Graphics, Realtek ALC202A 20 bit AC97 Audio and ICH4 I/O Controller, 400Mhz System Bus and 266Mhz Memory Bus. On board connectors: PCI Slot, 1 x DDR 266 DIMM slot, 1 x ATA 100 IDE connector, 1 x Floppy. Back panel connectors: VGA, Keyboard & Mouse Ports, USB 2.0, 10/100 LAN, Audio In/Out sockets.

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VIA releases PadLock SDK
September 14, 2004

VIA have announced the release of the VIA PadLock SDK, the latest addition to their PadLock Security Suite, designed for software developers who want to tap into the performance enhancing security features built into the latest VIA processors. The suite consists of tools to allow software developers to incorporate support for the Advanced Cryptography Engine (PadLock ACE) and Random Number Generator (PadLock RNG).

The VIA PadLock SDK consists of a step by step programming guide, Windows and Linux source code, and numerous sample programs, supporting VIA processors based on the C5P and C5XL Nehemiah cores.

Also available is the VIA PadLock ZIP Utility and accompanying source code, demonstrating speedy hardware-based AES encryption through the Advanced Cryptography Engine featured on the C5P Nehemiah processors.

Additional programming resources, such as the VIA PadLock RNG and VIA PadLock ACE programming guides developed by Centaur Technologies, are available on the VIA website.

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Mini-ITX speed building competition
September 03, 2004

VIA's Tim Brown randomly plucked two computer journalists from the crowd today for a Mini-ITX speed-building competition in London's Leicester Square. Bribed with a free T-Shirt, we supported the Hexus hack - but despite some shenanigans with a power switch (and perhaps assisted by a lack of screws) from his opponent, he narrowly lost. Mini-ITX gear was of course provided by our good selves. We wouldn't recommend building Mini-ITX PCs at lightning speeds (amusing to watch though it is) - these boards are best at being small, quiet, fully integrated, and low power consumption. We have an introduction to them here... American tourists visiting London might like to note that Leicester is pronounced "Lie-chester". Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

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