Home | News Archive | October 2004

Toshiba's 64-bit RISC-based Mini-ITX Reference Platform
October 18, 2004

Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc have chosen the 17x17cm Mini-ITX form factor for their fourth generation TX System RISC Multimedia Reference Platform. The AVM49R is powered by a 64-bit 300Mhz Toshiba TMPR4938 RISC processor, and supported by a Vweb VW2010 chip to provide MPEG-1/2/4 audio/video encoding and decoding in real-time.

The AVM49R Multimedia Reference Platform Hardware Development Kit (a snip at $10,000) is available for licence to customers wishing to create their own set-top boxes, digital video recorders and multimedia clients, running under the MontaVista Linux PE 3.1 operating system.

Specifications seem to be standard Mini-ITX fayre: PCI slot, IDE interface, dual 10/100 LAN, S-Video and Composite outputs, Serial and Parallel ports, along with a not-so-standard-but-useful-nonetheless EJTAG debugging port.

Toshiba's Press Release

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EPIA-N8000 spotted in Japan
October 08, 2004

More Nano-ITX pictures for you, courtesy of Akiba in Japan. These are of a running EPIA-N 8000 demonstration board, with a rather natty blue heatsink in place. The 533Mhz model will also be fanless - we're not so sure about the 1Ghz board now, but live in hope... Note the small 10 pin power connector (top right), Serial ATA connector (red cable), IDE connector (yellow cable), LVDS (white connector in the middle), and Mini PCI connector (white connector on the reverse). Rear connectors are: 10/100 Ethernet, 2 x USB 2.0, VGA, S-Video, 3 x Audio outputs. The (up to 1GB) DDR400 SODIMM was to have been accessed by unscrewing and sliding the bottom part of the heatsink to the side, though in this picture it looks like one unit. You may have to ask your children to fit your memory for you.

Side View

I/O Panel

Information Sheet

The machine translation has a rather optimistic release schedule for the EPIA N. We're inclined to think "early next year" based on what we know.

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"Digital Retro" by Gordon Laing
October 07, 2004

If you're wondering which vintage computer to plunder for your next Mini-ITX project, check out Digital Retro, a new coffee-table book from Gordon Laing which tells the story behind 44 of the most famous (or infamous) machines of the 70s and 80s, from MITS Altair to NeXT Cube.

Examples of every system have been pulled from attics and museums, dusted down and lovingly photographed from every angle. Where possible the original designers and engineers have also been interviewed to ensure accuracy and avoid popular myths.

If the mere mention of a Sinclair, Commodore, Atari or Acorn brings a fond tear to your eye, this is the book for you.

Digital Retro - The Evolution & Design of the Personal Computer

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Dual CPU Mini-ITX board shown at FPF
October 07, 2004

VIA displayed a prototype of the oft-hinted dual processor Mini-ITX at the Fall Processor Forum in San Jose earlier this week. Twin EPIA DP boards were on display inside a 1U server case, as shown in our pictures below. VIA hope to release the EPIA DP in the first quarter of 2005, and will be powered by two Eden-N CPUs (the two small square chips on the right of the above picture). Chipset duties will of course be performed by their CN400 Northbridge and VT8237 Southbridge, with one Gigabit and one 10/100 Ethernet port, and 4 x USB 2.0 ports (plus 2 more on pin headers). Other specifications are unconfirmed. Let's hope that VIA decide to keep the DVI port seen on their prototypes, and bundle a DVI-VGA adapter.

As if two CPUs on one board wasn't enough, VIA built a Quad CPU technology demonstration board especially for the show. With two copies of their AES encryption benchmark running, all 4 EPIA-N CPUs were active, as shown in the last picture below. There are no current plans to produce an "EPIA QP" just yet (our name, not theirs) - but we can only hope...

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VIA's "Isaiah" CPU will be 64-bit
October 06, 2004

Not to be outdone by rivals AMD and Intel, VIA is taking the 64-bit plunge.
Their next generation processor after the C7 ("Esther") will combine an advanced 64-bit architecture with VIA's trademark low power design, and continues the Biblical theme with the code name of "Isaiah".

Isaiah will include a high-speed FSB, an "industry leading" Floating Point Unit that can perform floating-point additions and multiplies in two clock cycles, an increased cache size and out-of order, superscalar execution.

VIA aims to "raise the performance bar" for high definition computing, promising a processor that will simultaneously be able to decrypt a digital media stream while outputting its content in ultra-high resolution.

Expect more details down the road on this one - the expected launch date is the first half of 2006.

VIA Unveils Details of Next-Generation Isaiah Processor Core

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The "Coelacanth-PC"
October 06, 2004

Geir Ergoy felt his old ATX computer was a dinosaur, ready for extinction. But electronic evolution can take some strange turns. After excavating a fossilised transistor TV, his Mini-ITX inspiration hit like an epoch ending asteroid. The result? Good Norwegian wood gone bad! Just like the once long lost Coelacanth, (or is it cola-can-th?) something old, is new again. Plus now we know what they do during those long Norwegian nights. Now if we can just find those old rabbit ears....

Disclaimer: Ripping into a television can be deadly. Lethal voltages can remain in television capacitors for extended periods of time. Consider yourself warned...

Geir Ergoy's "Coelacanth PC"

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