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Mini-ITX mainboards to feature VIA C7 processor

Posted: 24 Mar 2006     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:EPIA EN  mainboard  C7 processor  VIA Technologies  Alex Mendelsohn 


Chipmaker and PC vendor VIA Technologies Inc. is debuting its VIA EPIA EN-Series Mini-ITX so-called mainboards. These are billed as the first of VIA's ultra-compact platforms to feature the company's C7 processor. The boards dissipate 21W and have a 7-by-7-inch footprint.

Designed for digital media appliances, the mainboard integrates VIA's CN700 digital media IGP chipset. It boasts features including full hardware HDTV encoding, hardware MPEG-2 acceleration and multi-channel audio.

The chipset also supports up to 1Gbyte of DDR2 400MHz or 533MHz memory, and a serial ATA II RAID. The silicon also supports an LVDS module connector and Gigabit Ethernet LAN connectivity.

By packing all these features and onto the compact mainboard, the EPIA EN reduces the need for add-in cards and compatibility testing. That's expected to shorten time-to-market and lower the total cost of development for system integrators and OEMs.

Choice of processors
Designed to meet the increasing demands of digital media, the product is available with either VIA's C7 1.5GHz processor, or the so-called fanless Eden 1.2GHz processor. These both support the VIA V4 bus interface, combined with the VIA CN700 digital media IGP chipset. The 90nm microprocessors tout low average power dissipation of less than 1W.

The proprietary bandwidth-efficient VIA V4 bus is claimed by the company to deliver a performance increase of 80 per cent in a range of applications over predecessor VIA C3 microprocessors.

The EN Mini-ITX's HDTV encoder uses an ASIC with VIA's Advance ProScale Technology to scale the input resolution for 640 x 480-pixels, up to 1,024 x 768 encode for 1,080i, 720p standard HDTV resolution output.

The VIA UniChrome Pro IGP integrated graphics processor supports hardware MPEG-2 acceleration and includes a Chromotion CE engine for video, 6-channel audio and the system's LVDS module connector. You also get S-Video and RCA outputs.

The security engine
Integrated into the VIA C7 and VIA Eden processors is a PadLock Security Engine. It's billed as the world's most comprehensive collection native x86 security tools.

Featuring what VIA claims is the fastest x86 advanced encryption standard (AES) encryption engine, a secure hash engine and random number generators, it also uses a hardware Montgomery Multiplier to accelerate public key encryption such as Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA).

RSA is a highly secure cryptography method created by RSA Security, Inc. It uses a two-part key. The private key is kept by the owner; the public key is published.

Random number generators
The PadLock Security Engine lets you seamlessly off-load the computational process involved in complex encryption algorithms, freeing processor loading to handle more data and to handle it faster. The security engine also offers NX Execute protection to prevent the propagation of worms. The PadLock Security Engine offers realtime military-grade protection of data.

VIA Technologies says its EPIA EN-Series Mini-ITX mainboard is in production, and is available in limited quantities through authorized distributors.

- Alex Mendelsohn

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