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Computer form factors
Name PCB Size (mm)
WTX 356×425
AT 350×305
Baby-AT 330×216
BTX 325×266
ATX 305×244
LPX 330×229
NLX 254×228
microATX 244×244
DTX 244×203
FlexATX 229×191
Mini-DTX 203×170
EBX 203×146
microATX (Min.) 171×171
Mini-ITX 170×170
EPIC (Express) 165×115
ESM 149×71
Nano-ITX 120×120
COM Express 125×95
ESMexpress 125×95
ETX / XTX 114×95
Pico-ITX 100×72
PC/104 (-Plus) 96×90
mobile-ITX 75×45
Ultra ATX ?×244

Mini-ITX is a 17 x 17 cm (or 6.7 x 6.7 inches) low-power motherboard form factor developed by VIA Technologies. Mini-ITX is slightly smaller than microATX. Mini-ITX boards can often be passively cooled due to their low power consumption architecture, which makes them useful for home theater systems, where fan noise can detract from the cinema experience.


[edit] History

Alix.1C Mini-ITX embedded board with AMD Geode LX 800 together with Compact Flash, miniPCI and PCI slots, 44-pin IDE interface and 256MB RAM
A mini-ITX motherboard

In March 2001, the chipset manufacturer VIA Technologies released a reference design for an ITX motherboard, to promote the low power C3 processor they had bought from Centaur Technology, in combination with their chipsets. Designed by Robert Kuo, VIA's chief R&D expert, the 215 mm x 191 mm VT6009 ITX Reference Board was demonstrated in "Information PC" and set-top box form factors. He would later go on to design the Mini-ITX form factor. The ITX form factor was never taken up by manufacturers, who instead produced smaller boards based on the very similar 229 mm x 191 mm FlexATX form factor.

In October 2001, VIA announced their decision to create a new motherboard division, to provide standardized infrastructure for lower-cost PC form factors and focus on embedded devices. The result was the November 2001 release of the VT6010 Mini-ITX reference design, once again touted as an "Information PC", or low cost entry level x86 computing platform. Manufacturers were still reticent, but customer response was much more receptive, so VIA decided to manufacture and sell the boards themselves. In April 2002 the first Mini-ITX motherboards—VIA's EPIA 5000 (fanless 533 MHz Eden processor) and EPIA 800 (800 MHz C3)—were sold to industrial customers.

Enthusiasts soon noticed the advantages of small size, low noise and power consumption, and started to push the boundaries of case modding into something else—building computers into nearly every object imaginable, and sometimes even creating new cases altogether. Hollowed out vintage computers, humidors, toys, electronics, musical instruments, and even a 1960s-era toaster have become homes to relatively quiet, or even silent Mini-ITX systems, capable of many of the tasks of a modern desktop PC.

Mini-ITX boards are still primarily industrial boards, with the majority sold in bulk for less exciting applications. They are produced with a much longer sales lifetime than consumer boards (the original EPIAs are still available), something that industrial users need. Manufacturers can prototype using standard cases and power supplies, then build their own enclosures if volumes get high enough. Typical applications include playing music in supermarkets and advertising display boards.

To date there have been three generations of VIA's Mini-ITX boards, the original PL133 chipset boards (affectionately known as "Classic" boards), CLE266 chipset boards (adding MPEG-2 acceleration), and CN400 boards (which added MPEG-4 acceleration). Second generation boards include the EPIA M, MII, CL, PD, TC and MS—all tailored to slightly different markets. The EPIA SP is the first CN400 board to be released to date. All current VIA boards use their x86-compatible CPU—the C3, or its lower power Eden variant. In 2006 the next generation C7 CPU was released in new line of VIA boards. Other manufacturers have also produced boards using the same form-factor, using VIA, but also Intel, AMD, Transmeta and PowerPC technology.

Intel has introduced a line of Mini ITX boards starting with the Desktop Board D201GLY, through their latest Desktop Board D945GCLF2[1].

[edit] Product codes

VIA assigns product codes according to product technical specifications. Here are three examples:

-> Motherboard-type ML, 1000 MHz CPU, with TV-out and Green Computing (see below).

-> Motherboard-type CN, 1000 MHz CPU, with TV-out, low power-consuming CPU and Green Computing.

-> Motherboard-type LT, 1500 MHz CPU, with Green Computing but without TV-out.

Meanwhile most of the motherboards end with a combination of A, E and/or G.

  • A is for the motherboards without TV-out, so: no A means the board has TV-out.
  • E is for the fanless Eden CPU.
  • G is for Green computing.
  • L is for Gigabit Ethernet port (where optional).
  • T is for Trusted Computing Module.

You can find VIA EPIA motherboard-types here

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Often Intel Desktop Boards is considered as microATX boards, because their dimensions are 171.45mm x 171.45mm (mini-ITX dimensions are 170mm x 170 mm max)

[edit] External links

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