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VIA releases a dual-core 1.6GHz EPIA board

Meets the challenges from AMD and Intel
Fri Jul 08 2011, 15:30

LOW POWER CHIP DESIGNER VIA has launched its first mini-ITX motherboard to feature the firm's Nano X2-E dual core chip.

via-nanoVIA's EPIA-M900 mini-ITX motherboard mounts a dual core 1.6GHz Nano X2-E chip and is supported by VIA's VX900 "media system processor", or Northbridge with an embedded graphics chip to everyone else. The VX900's graphics core is based on the firm's Chrome 9 that supports Microsoft's DirectX 9 and provides hardware acceleration for high definition content encoded in VC-1, H.264 and Windows Media Video 9 formats.

Most of VIA's chips end up on diminutive mini-ITX motherboards and the EPIA-M900 is no exception, with two SO-DIMM slots supporting up to 8GB of 1066MHz DDR3 memory and two SATA connectors. Far more interesting is the 8x PCI-Express slot that accompanies the familiar PCI slot, allowing for a range of high-bandwidth peripherals to be fitted..

On the back, VIA has opted for an HDMI port and a standard D-Sub port for video output and there's the option for up to two gigabit Ethernet ports.

VIA pitches its Nano processor as a competitor to Intel's Atom and now, AMD's G-Series line of chips. The firm has had limited success with its embedded chips even though it championed low power X86 chips long before AMD and Intel, in small mainboard sizes such as mini-ITX and nano-ITX.

With AMD's G-series Fusion chips supporting DirectX 11, VIA might find it hard to claim that its latest chip and motherboard combo has the highest performing graphics on the embedded market. That might be why Epan Wu, head of VIA's embedded platform division said that the EPIA-M900 can be used for digital signage, kiosks, ATMs and home automation, none of which require DirectX 9 let alone DirectX 11.

VIA did not announce pricing for the board, but like most high-end EPIA units, expect prices to be close to the £130 mark. µ


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