EPIA MII 12000 Review
Board Connectors, Headers & Jumpers
As with previous EPIAs, VIA have managed to
pack a lot of connectors and headers into a small space. The
EPIA MIIs have the following connectors:
2 x IDE Hard Disk connectors,
both supporting Ultra DMA 33/66/100/133. Up to 4 hard drives,
optical drives or other IDE devices can be connected (2 per
channel, configured as a Master and a Slave drive)
- somewhere to plug your Power and Reset switches, LEDs for
Power, Hard Disk activity and Sleep mode (when the
power is on but the machine is suspended), and a case speaker.
Fast IrDA Infrared Module
Connector (FIR). We would recommend a USB-based ATI
Remote Wonder to solve your remote control needs - it also
works round corners...
USB 2.0 header,
to attach 2 additional USB 2.0 ports. There are already 2 USB 2.0 ports tucked underneath the RJ-45 ethernet port. This is the yellow header
in the picture. EPIA M and MII compatible cases often have headers for these.
Wake-On LAN connector
- attaching this to a WOL compatible network card allows the
system to be powered up when a signal is received through
the card. On the classic EPIAs this is called Wake-On Modem
and doesn't have the natty plastic housing the EPIA M has.
The Firewire header can be used to attach an additional Firewire port.
The EPIA M has a second serial port in header
form, COM2. Useful for any number of serial applications without
tieing up the external COM1 port.
Floppy Disk Drive Connector
- for connecting 360K (!) to 2.88M floppy drives - thankfully
not present on the classic EPIAs. Here at Mini-ITX we don't
really see the point in floppy drives any more. The sooner
they are eradicated from the world, the better. We've got
the internet, CDRs are ten a penny and hold a bazillion times
as much information, and we can even emulate a floppy image over
a LAN using PXE. It's the evil looking black mass in the middle
of the picture, but don't look at it directly - it'll put
a hex on you.
CD-In Connector for routing audio directly from a CD drive. Not strictly required, as this can all be done digitally nowadays. An appropriate audio lead would usually come with your CD
or DVD drive.
Front Audio Connector - the line out / microphone audio connectors can be disabled and routed to a front panel for convenient connection of additional audio devices. In Smart 5.1 mode these would be the rear audio connectors. The black header at the top left of the picture.
A Small Area Network (SAN) is used to connect the Integrated
Circuit (IC) components on a circuit board, or within a box
or system. Components can be the PC, a keypad, LCD display,
status indicators or switches and sensors. I2C
is one such system - it's an Inter-Integrated Circuit Bus
(geddit?). The classic EPIAs don't have this. Pretty useful
if you're making a robot.
Gaping hole for an optional LVDS
Module Connector. Low Voltage Differential Signaling is a
low power method for high-speed (gigabits per second) data
transmission. LVDS is interesting because it uses 3 voltage
levels instead of the usual binary method to encode data.
at a higher maximum transfer rate. Used extensively in laptops
as a flat panel display interface. We've never
seen an LVDS Module equipped EPIA MII in retail, possibly a good thing for most would-be VAIO butchers as using these things isn't as easy as it looks. Super-small
10x5mm connector with 40 pins - not present on the classic
EPIAs, but they have the equally unused Video In Connector
and PCI Riser Card Connector instead.
As the MII doesn't have a parallel port due to space constraints, there is an LPT pin header to attach one.
There are two jumpers on the motherboard.
The first clears the CMOS RAM, useful for clearing your BIOS
settings after a disastrous RAM tweaking attempt. Only do
this when the system is off. The second selects between RCA
Video or S/PDIF output on the dual-purpose Video/Audio rear
connector. It's the single red jumper, and starts life in
the RCA position.
All EPIAs have ONE PCI
Slot. Choose your card wisely. This isn't as bad as
it sounds - USB sockets can be turned into second and third
ethernet interfaces with appropriate adapters, and there is
already on-board audio and a whole slew of standard interfaces.
Probably the best use of the slot would be with a PVR card,
or a decent 3D card (or a card supporting both functions).
Board Connectors, Headers and Jumpers -->