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

Cardbus Controller and CF Reader

Cardbus Controller and CF Reader

The EPIA MII includes the Ricoh R5C476 II / R5C485 CardBus Controller and Compact Flash Reader, mounted on a daughterboard where the Parallel port would be on the EPIA M.

The daughterboard can be unscrewed and removed very easily, leaving a neat row of PCI header pins - though it is suitably distanced from the 32-bit PCI slot for this never to be a necessity. When we removed ours and booted into Windows, we lost our picture except in safe mode. Lesson: don't remove your daughterboard. It might just be us, though.

Cardbus Controller and CF Reader

The CardBus Controller accepts standard PC Cards, and will probably be most utilised to provide wireless networking without utilising the PCI slot. Here's one we prepared earlier. Underneath the CardBus Controller is a Compact Flash Reader, which accepts Compact Flash cards and even MicroDrives. As the Ricoh unit is PCI based, this isn't easily bootable - and at the time of writing, it isn't possible. To boot easily, an IDE or USB based adapter would be required. However VIA do assure us that it will be possible under Linux and Windows Embedded Edition, but may require a BIOS update.

Back Panel Connectors

Back Panel Connectors

The EPIA MII manages to pack even more connectors into its back panel than the EPIA M. If we look at the two side by side, we can see how this was achieved. The bulky parallel port has been removed, and the audio ports have been mounted horizontally in a smaller and better shielded housing. The serial port is now above the VGA port, and VIA even managed to add a single Firewire port next to the audio ports. The Ricoh R5C476 II / R5C485 CardBus Controller and Compact Flash Reader is mounted where the Parallel port lives on the EPIA M.

The full list of connectors: Standard PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse connectors, 2 x USB 2.0 Ports (USB 1.1 devices will also work), RJ-45 port. The Serial Port is the standard 9-pin affair. The S-Video Port allows S-Video output in NTSC and PAL modes - this will give the best picture quality on a television, unless you are lucky enough to have a Plasma with VGA input. The RCA Video or S/PDIF Port is a dual function port that may be used either as a composite video port or S/PDIF audio port - it is switchable by a jumper behind it. The Audio Port connectors look standard at first glance, but double as 6 channel outputs with a neat hardware trick called Smart 5.1, switchable in software. The Firewire port will come in handy for that digital video camera or additional storage device, and the Ricoh CardBus Controller can accept type I or II PC Card devices, most probably a wireless card. The Compact Flash reader is a useful addition and works well for storage, though as the Ricoh unit is PCI-based, it is not a trivial matter to boot from it as a primary device (more about this later).

Back Panel Connectors

Here's a picture of the rear panels of the EPIA TC and EPIA CL, which feature a slightly different set of connectors to the EPIA M and EPIA MII.

Board Connectors, Headers and Jumpers -->

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