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Thread: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

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    VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    HEXUS gives you the lowdown on VIA's tiny, tiny pico-ITX motherboard. Is small really beautiful?
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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    You probably need some sort of frame-buffer driver for the console output to work correctly. Most VIA Epia boards (all?) need at least the console frame-buffer driver in the kernel to get any output when you're not in X.

    I feel VIA missed a lot of opportunities – they always pretend to have good support for open-source software, but my own experiences point out that for instance Linux support for those Epia boards is half-assed at best... The basics work, but don't expect any extras, such as hardware acceleration.

    Not having (good enough) support for open-source operating systems is shooting yourself in the foot with this sort of product.

    And if one wants to make an own router app, as you mention – there are better platforms for building console-only embedded-style systems.

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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    As I own a EPIA PD10000 (Mini-ITX with VIA C3 1Ghz "Nehemiah" with dual NIC connections) and use Linux on a full time basis, I'd have to agree with the article.

    VIA's support for Linux is CRAP. I don't just mean providing barely adequate drivers, I mean not working with the community to produce drivers at all. We have to reverse engineer and develop our own from scratch! While both AMD and Intel are providing documentation specs, starting community driver projects, and even contributing direct code back, VIA is taking the Nvidia approach of just providing drivers.

    The biggest difference here, is that Nvidia actually does a decent job with their drivers, while VIA doesn't seem to give a damn. (Its been a couple of years now, and they have made little attempt to improve). The community developed driver does a better job...Even then, that's barely adequate for the task. (As you have experienced in the article).

    As I result, I usually assign VIA-based solutions to "background" applications like firewalls, low power file/print servers, home built robots, etc. Stuff that doesn't need much CPU grunt to run or doesn't require VIA IGP's features. Mostly "set and forget" (in a physical sense), while remotely admin'ing them.

    The only worthwhile solution coming from VIA is their upcoming Isaiah processor. Said to be 2 to 4 times the performance of the current C7, while producing the same thermal footprint. I estimate that it'll be approx clock for clock equal to PIII, but still slower than Pentium-M, A64, Sempron, Celeron (Core-based), etc, etc.

    Personally, I wouldn't bother with VIA's IGPs. They're a waste of time.

    You're better off waiting for Intel's Silverthorne or even Diamondville. At least these will come available with i945 chipset as an option (the other is SiS)...Which actually work well under Linux!...Besides, Diamondville will come in dual-core!
    => DailyTech - Intel Reveals 4 Watt "Diamondville" Processor Details

    So I reckon it'll be like this in the future...VIA vs Intel. (embedded/budget market)
    => C3/C7 vs Diamondville/Silverthorne
    => Isaiah vs (low end) Celeron?

    Regardless, the budget and embedded markets is about to explode with lots of different options to choose from!

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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    Oh Jo!

    This is so incredibly underpowered, and enless x.org mit unichrome has changed a lot since i ran it on my mini-itx, you just cant play video without dropping the res. If you drop it right down to 480p type resolutions, and are running nothing else you might have some joy.

    Given the cost of say 8gig of flash, i think that you might find this can actually run XP Pro quite resonably, mini-itx.com - epia px 10000 review. This is making me think that one of these could make a nice extender for the kitchen. Whats really anoying here is that you have to buy even more software to get it to do this. More money wasted!

    It really should be noted that the hardware is capable of doing (all be it) limited playback OK. But that a combination of bad drivers and the sluggish nature of the certain choice of OS for review's premier windowing system might not of helped things.

    An intresting test is the performance of domain socket callbacks which i belive are still used heavily by Xorg has generally been awful on the via platforms i'ev owned before.
    throw new ArgumentException (String, String, Exception)

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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAnimus View Post
    Oh Jo!

    This is so incredibly underpowered, and enless x.org mit unichrome has changed a lot since i ran it on my mini-itx, you just cant play video without dropping the res. If you drop it right down to 480p type resolutions, and are running nothing else you might have some joy.

    Given the cost of say 8gig of flash, i think that you might find this can actually run XP Pro quite resonably, mini-itx.com - epia px 10000 review. This is making me think that one of these could make a nice extender for the kitchen. Whats really anoying here is that you have to buy even more software to get it to do this. More money wasted!

    It really should be noted that the hardware is capable of doing (all be it) limited playback OK. But that a combination of bad drivers and the sluggish nature of the certain choice of OS for review's premier windowing system might not of helped things.

    An intresting test is the performance of domain socket callbacks which i belive are still used heavily by Xorg has generally been awful on the via platforms i'ev owned before.
    i'm not sure i'd even want to give it kitchenputer status - 60 quid gets you a proper intel-based mini-itx board with cpu. hell, for barely more than the price of this thing, you could buy an eeepc (with ram, storage, screen, and faster processor)

    i don't think even windows with via's proprietary drivers can hide the ugly truth: c7 sucks

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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    Quote Originally Posted by duodecim View Post
    You probably need some sort of frame-buffer driver for the console output to work correctly. Most VIA Epia boards (all?) need at least the console frame-buffer driver in the kernel to get any output when you're not in X.
    yeah, but it's fine via vga. and outside the linux question, you can't even use the BIOS via dvi. which seems dumb to me

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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    i'm not sure i'd even want to give it kitchenputer status - 60 quid gets you a proper intel-based mini-itx board with cpu. hell, for barely more than the price of this thing, you could buy an eeepc (with ram, storage, screen, and faster processor)

    i don't think even windows with via's proprietary drivers can hide the ugly truth: c7 sucks
    True, but this thing is SOOO small.

    One of the problems with the C7 from my understanding is that anything outside of an EAX operation is quite cripplingly slow in how they get pipelined. If your os dosen't demand domain socket callbacks left right and center, you might be onto something a lot faster.

    As it stands i think i'm only going to have music in the kitchen, because any attemp at a TFT in there just screams my car is a vauxhal zafira. So a nice passively cooled mini-itx is going to do the job (and i've got an EIPA 5000 somewhere...!)
    throw new ArgumentException (String, String, Exception)

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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    If you are just playing music in the kitchen, have you looked at a Squeezebox?

    Computer hardware and software at amazing prices, available online from Scan Computers UK

    With a passive case, psu, controller, etc. you could easily spend way more than £180. Granted you need to have a PC somewhere else actually service the music (unless you use SqueezeNetwork to stream internet radio).

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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAnimus View Post
    One of the problems with the C7 from my understanding is that anything outside of an EAX operation is quite cripplingly slow in how they get pipelined. If your os dosen't demand domain socket callbacks left right and center, you might be onto something a lot faster.
    given the diverse nature of x86 applications, that strikes me as dumb chip design more than anything else. it's not as if x11 is a new or unexpected design

    and as i said, intel can stick core2 in the same thermal envelope - any guesses how a 1.06ghz core2 system does for day to day use compared to a c7?

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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    That leave Britney alone guy doesnt need any more publicity than he gets, please dont use him again for anything, ever...

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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    Quote Originally Posted by [GSV]Trig View Post
    That leave Britney alone guy doesnt need any more publicity than he gets, please dont use him again for anything, ever...
    tee hee

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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    As I discovered with a C3 based EPIA, you are far better off looking at 'hiding' the PC somewhere than getting a low-power solution like these for general duties.

    The C3 was gutless and by all accounts the C7 isn't much better.

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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    AMD Elan boards have a bit more grunt with less power usage *and* coreboot support. It's basically F/OSS embedded sex compared to VIA's EPIA platform.
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent View Post
    ...every time Creative bring out a new card range their advertising makes it sound like they have discovered a way to insert a thousand Chuck Norris super dwarfs in your ears...

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    Re: VIA pico-ITX - not quite the perfect form-factor

    there's always atom

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