Intel to promote the Mini-ITX form factor

sleepeeg3

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http://www.techreport.com/discussions.x/14614
The site quotes Intel Channel Platforms Group General Manager Tom Rampone as saying the move is a response to increased market demand for PCs with smaller form factors. Rampone claimed current "nettops"—small, low-cost notebooks like the Asus Eee PC—"don't meet the requirements for entry-level or multimedia markets."

In fact, Rampone went so far as to say Intel "expects Mini-ITX to replace Micro-ATX and become the mainstream for future low-cost, entry-level and multimedia PC markets."
I don't know about miniITX replacing microATX any time soon, but I like to see the focus on new SFFs.
 

pxc

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Little Valley and LV2 were mini-ITX, so it's not new support from Intel. If there is a trend towards small form factors, I think the announcement was more of a slap to DTX.

picoBTX was pretty nice from a layout and expandability perspective, but it wasn't really that small: 20x 23 cm for picoBTX vs 17 x 17 cm for mini-ITX. The extra space wasn't for nothing. picoBTX could support higher power CPUs and had 4 DIMM slots and space for lots of I/O and headers. I just built 2 picoBTX systems and I like the form. Too bad it died.
 

dirtypop

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Can you get a PCI-e graphics card on one of those? In the future maybe? Or is this an Intel integrated-graphics-are-good-enough thing?
 

CptFalcon

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Can you get a PCI-e graphics card on one of those? In the future maybe? Or is this an Intel integrated-graphics-are-good-enough thing?

There are quite a few ITX boards that have PCI-E at full speed and can game on them. One our members here had a thread about creating a ITX gaming rig. If you have the cash give it a whirl.
 

Synomenon

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That new upcoming G45 mini-ITX Intel board looks nice. Would be great if mini-ITX does eventually replace uATX.
 

huddy

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That new upcoming G45 mini-ITX Intel board looks nice. Would be great if mini-ITX does eventually replace uATX.

Do the same thing a friend did... build it inside of an NES and throw a bunch of ROM's on there. His is set up to use the Nintendo power supply, controllers, and buttons still.:D
 

Synomenon

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I've seen one by a company called Nexus. It had a funny name, but looked pretty nice. Came in black or white and was a cube shape with rounded edges.
 

__Miguel_

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Hmmm, I recently (couple of days, I think) read a news about two new mini-ITX boards from Intel...

Oh, that's right, there it is... Check here.

It seems one is based on the 945GC (revamped 945G if you ask me... there are plenty of motherboards who use either one right now, and both offer pretty much the same specs...), the other one on the G35. I just hope at least the 945GC-based will be price-comparable to the D201GLY2, that would be sweet.

I don't have any more info on those, unfortunately. Anyone has any info?

Cheers.

Miguel
 

Synomenon

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Here's Intel's G45 mini-ITX board:

http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=12222


and here's the Nexus mini-ITX case I was talking about:

The "PSile"
m370.jpg

http://www.psile.com/index.php?page=catalog_details&CID=2
 

Steeeeve

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There really aren't many great motherboards out there. You really only need a AM2+ or C2D with PCI-Express 2.0. This mobo would be a killer if made well. At a 20%+ growth rate per year, Mini-ITX is doing fairly well. DTX seems to be DOA
 

__Miguel_

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Man, I am sooo stupid... I totally forgot to check one of my favourite sites on mini-ITX information (www.mini-itx.com).

Of course, the two latest news on that site are about the new Intel mini-ITX boards...

It seems there are three boards, not two. And there are more good news.

The first board is very similar to the "Little Valey 2" in terms of backplate and layout, and will be named "Little Falls". It's 945GC and Atom-based (Diamondville, soldered to the board), supports 1 DDR2-800 DIMM (odd, since the 945GC northbridge supposedly only goes to 667MHz on memory speed...), and at least two SATA ports. Little Falls 2 will appear a couple of months later, and wil change the CPU to a 12W-TDP Dual Core Diamondville Atom CPU (from a 7.5W single-core Diamondville). Expansion, as usual, comes from a single PCI slot. Check here and here.

The other two boards are a lot more interesting. They are called "Fly Creek", and the biggest difference between them is the chipset (and backplate options).

The DQ45EK is Q45based, has 4(!) SATA ports, 1 e-SATA (probably using ICH10R, or an extra controller), no IDE or Floppy, two DIMM slots (dual channel on a mini-ITX board! Finally!), 2xDVI output :eek:, and a 1x PCI-E expansion slot.

The DG45FC is the "beast": G45-based, same 4 SATA/1 e-SATA ports, also no IDE or Floppy, two DIMM slots, DVI+HDMI (!) output, 1x PCI-E expansion, and 8.1 sound codec, with digital out. Sweet!

Oh, I almost forgot... Those mobos are LGA-775, meaning it's a BYOCPU (Bring your own CPU) board, which is nice for those of us who freak out with soldered ones.

Photos of the Q45/G45 here, here and here.


@ IsLNdbOi: the PSile is already selling. Check this link.

Cheers.

Miguel
 

CrimandEvil

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The DG45FC is the "beast": G45-based, same 4 SATA/1 e-SATA ports, also no IDE or Floppy, two DIMM slots, DVI+HDMI (!) output, 1x PCI-E expansion, and 8.1 sound codec, with digital out. Sweet!

Oh, I almost forgot... Those mobos are LGA-775, meaning it's a BYOCPU (Bring your own CPU) board, which is nice for those of us who freak out with soldered ones.
Yeah... Too bad there isn't one with a PCIe x16 slot on it. :(
 

__Miguel_

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Well, my guess is, since these boards mostly intended for the ultra small form factor market, PCI-E 16x doesn't really make much sense (not to mention it would be a MAJOR pain to create that many more tracks on the PCB...).

However, I do have to agree that it would be a sweet combination. If the G45 is nearly as good as the G33/G35 in terms of OC, and OC options/PCI-E 16x were to be available, I'm actually thinking about something like a 1600MHz FSB Quad, 2x2GB DDR2-800 (at least), and an über-GPU fitting into a *somewhat* minuscule enclosure (the GPU would actually be the biggest piece... lol), VERY transportable and kicking so many people's a**es in a LAN Party...

OMG, I think I just had a mental orgasm... :p

Cheers.

Miguel
 

CrimandEvil

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The MSI 9642, 9803, iBase MB899X, and Commell LV-678 all have a PCI-E x16 slot and support C2D or mobile C2D. Commell is the only LGA775 choice and was supposed to be released 4/28 in Taiwan so should be showing up soon. http://www.bwi.com/document/24015 Will be pricey and not enough slots for me.
Yeah but I'm not paying nearly $400 for a Mini ITX mobo. Especially one that has very little OC options. I will make that compromise for a Mini ITX board if it supports LGA775 CPUs (Quads) as well as a PCIe x16 slot and cost at or close to a $100.
 

sleepeeg3

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Bah! You can't even find a decent mATX board for $100. Not gonna ever happen. The MSI Fuzzy went for $185 before people discovered it. I heard electronics will probably go up in the near future, because of the rising dollar and shortages in Taiwan.
 

CrimandEvil

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Bah! You can't even find a decent mATX board for $100. Not gonna ever happen. The MSI Fuzzy went for $185 before people discovered it. I heard electronics will probably go up in the near future, because of the rising dollar and shortages in Taiwan.

Don't be obtuse.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128085
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131187
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131237
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128056
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128090

An extra $30 over $100 isn't going to make much difference but an extra $260 (for the board you linked too) is totally unacceptable for a mobo that hardly has any OC options on it.

Lets not even mention that you can find decent full ATX mobos with plenty of OC options for $99...
 

myren

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I only see two ways to do actual small form factor:
1) integrated video cards
2) reiser card

This situation terrifies me. Lots of #1, no one jumping on board the only non-suck option, #2.
 

Steeeeve

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So what would you guys like to see in a Mini-ITX case anyway? Would anyone be interested in one if a case were built with enthusiasts qualities or are the motherboards just not enough yet?

What dimensions would you like to see for example. What capabilities in a case?
 

CrimandEvil

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So what would you guys like to see in a Mini-ITX case anyway? Would anyone be interested in one if a case were built with enthusiasts qualities or are the motherboards just not enough yet?

What dimensions would you like to see for example. What capabilities in a case?

Motherboards have to get there first. When there are several decently priced (priced not that much more then a P35/45) and support desktop CPUs with a PCIE x16 slot then we can start talking about cases. Until then we're just putting the cart before the horse.
 

Steeeeve

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Right now you have motherboards that are P35 that can hold a C2D and PCIEx16. Now the problem is they run around $299 or so which is what your complaint is. Seems like a chicken and egg thing too. No one is going to buy a $299 motherboard unless they have a case that can provide some power (for the average user) and you aren't going to get a case made unless more people buy the motherboards.

Assuming you had a $99 motherboard, what would be the dimensions and needs you would like to see?
 

Synomenon

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Well what shapes are they going to come in if we want compact, with space to hold a HSF that's good enough to cool a C2D or C2Q and a high performance graphics card.

The general shape that comes to find is cube-ish. Or flat (like a rack mount case) with the graphics card lying down through a riser card.
 

Steeeeve

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That's kind of the question though. Would you rather have a riser card or something else. One or two hard drives...I mean what do you look for in a case now?
 

Synomenon

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Are you looking to start manufacturing mini-itx cases are something?

Personally, I don't like using riser cards. That Nexus cube case I linked to is pretty much what I'd be looking for. That's just me though.
 

Steeeeve

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nope, I sure won't be. I am just wondering why Mini ITX have never taken off and it seems like case design is a part of that.
 

Synomenon

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Case manufacturers haven't had any incentive to create mini-ITX cases. With Intel pushing it things might change.
 

Steeeeve

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So the question still remains what you would like to see in a case.

Lucky for me I still have some contacts with abit. Perhaps I can ask them if they have any future plans with Mini-ITX boards that don't stink.
 

Synomenon

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- Something attractive and compact
- Can fit video cards similar in size to the latest
- Can fit mini-ITX boards that have mini-PCI and other slots on the under-side of the board
- Enough ventilation / circulation to reasonably cool the components passively or close to passive
- Space for at least two hard drives, one external 3.5" drive bay and one 5.25" drive bay

I think I just described a Shuttle or SilverStone Sugo.

Another question remains... Why are you so interested about what others want to see in a case?
 

__Miguel_

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I have to agree with IsLNdbOi for the most part.

Though I must add that mini-ITX in fact has two (well, three, but I'll het to that in a bit) different target markets:

- The first one is that of "Mini Desktop systems", with the "all in one compact system, plus dedicated GPU" (aka "super light compact gaming rigs", ready to kick everyone's a** at a LanParty, and disappear before anyone can even know who hit them - and with what... lol). For those systems, a case just like IsLNdbOi referred would make a lot of sense. However, the PSU will be a great issue with one of these cards. ATX PSUs are simply too big (almost as big as the rest of the system) to create a decent system. Sadly, sub-ATX PSUs are loud, under-powered, and extremely expensive (like 5x the price of similar-powered ATX PSUs);

- The second market is that of HTPC/basic work PC crowd. The first ones probably don't even need a dedicated GPU (granted, you'll need at least a G45 or 780G to go without one for video playback, but it IS possible), only some kind of expansion for PCI or PCI-E tuner cards (even then, you only really need a 1x PCI-E slot), with one or two 2,5'' disk drives, and a slim ODD (I'd love to see a SATA version of those, really). Basic work PCs only need one disk, and sometimes not even ODDs, so you could go with an even smaller case. Anyway, case requirements are smaller: for basic work PCs, you could even integrate the case on the back of the LCD monitor, and be done with it; HTPCs typically need rackmount-like cases, to blend with the rest of the living room. One persistent problem are small PSUs - you really need sub-€50 Pico-PSUs to be able to create interesting cases for these setups;

- The third market is that of the "let's see where I can fit a PC" crowd. Those need bare, ultra-compact cases (or no case at all), probably a nice fit into a car's dashboard and having a nice display, one 2,5'' HDD, and not much more (probably not even an ODD, depending on situation). Again, small PSUs (or DC-DC converters) are a problem.

So, that's more or less what I think mini-ITX cases should be about. There are some already on the market (including dashboard-mountable ones), but they are expensive and VERY hard to get by. Also, PSUs for small projects are either under-powered, too big, too noisy, or insanely expensive. We'll need to make cheaper smaller PSUs so mini-ITX cases can go somewhere...

Cheers.

Miguel
 

nray

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So the question still remains what you would like to see in a case.

Lucky for me I still have some contacts with abit. Perhaps I can ask them if they have any future plans with Mini-ITX boards that don't stink.

I've thought about this for a few years now, and what I'd like to see is a smaller variant of the Shuttle cases (basically something similar to the KPC, but available as just a case, so you can add you own motherboard, power supply, fans, etc.)

There are only two form factors of power supply that should be considered for such a case. One is the one that Shuttle often uses, so called SFX or FlexATX or sometimes 1U power supplies, where on the high end you have choices like the Sparkle SPI270LE 270W or Shuttle PC50 SilentX 300W power supplies. The other power supply form factor to consider is the MicroATX power supply, which on the high end includes the Sparkle FSP350-60GNV 350W and the Athena Power AP-MP4ATX47FE 470W power supplies.

The other qualities it needs are good ventilation (like the 90mm rear fan mount in the KPC), a slim 5.25" drive bay instead of a regular 5.25" drive bay (saves a lot of space), one or two 3.5" bays (or even perhaps just two 15mm high 2.5" drive bays for the new Velociraptor 10k RPM drives, assuming you have good cooling for those bays), the ability to fit at least a single slot card that's 229mm in length plus some for the 6-pin power connector to hook up at the end, and a bit of top clearance too in case the power connector plugs in there, with ventilation holes in the sides of the case so cool air can be drawn in and across the video card. Also having 70mm or so of clearance in the CPU area for a decent CPU cooler would be a good idea.

Deciding on the power supply type would decide the design of the rest of the case. You don't want to rely just on the power supply to exhaust hot air from the case, especially if you just have a single-slot video card that doesn't exhaust heat. So you either need to do what Shuttle did in the KPC and use a FlexATX style power supply with a small 40mm type fan and have a 90mm case fan, or if you go with a MicroATX power supply and end up putting it in the traditional location (over the CPU area centered in the back of the case), you'll need to consider doing some sort of side-mounted exhaust fans on one side of the case to get the hot air out effectively. In theory, it might even be possible to mount a single 120mm fan in the side of such a case, depending on the organization of internal components.
 

nray

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Sadly, sub-ATX PSUs are loud, under-powered, and extremely expensive (like 5x the price of similar-powered ATX PSUs)

Generally true, but if you look around, there are some exceptions. For instance, the Sparkle FSP350-60GNV is an Active PFC power supply with a minimum of 75% efficiency and 22A on the +12V line that sells for $35, and I use it in a computer that runs 24/7 in my bedroom (the fan is not too loud).

Right now there isn't much competition in the FlexATX/SFX/MicroATX power supply market, so the choices are more limited, and there aren't many reviews out there, but it's a chicken-and-egg problem, i.e. the only way for there to be more market choice and product reviews is there's a viable platform that people can buy at a reasonable price for a broader range of applications. But there are a few good products out there already in the PSU market.
 
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