VIA FAQ

Discussion in 'All non-AMD/Intel CPUs' started by Blue Fox, Jan 16, 2006.

  1. Blue Fox

    Blue Fox [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Somebody gonna update this or what?!?!?!?
    Updates forthcoming...


    What is VIA?

    VIA Technologies itself is Taiwanese electronics company that is primarily a manufacturer of chipsets and CPUs. You have probably seen or heard of their chipsets because they are rather popular on the Athlon XP platform (and a few others).

    Why VIA?

    VIA's motherboards and CPUs are popular because of their small size and power consumption. The current AMD and Intel CPUs use around 100 watts and this is often impractical. VIA CPUs use under 20 watts and some even under 10 watts, albeit, they are not as fast as the Intel and AMD offerings. VIA CPUs are very practical in HTPC, carputer, and small server applications (and many more) because of their small size and power consumption. VIA CPUs are also sold commercially in a few desktops and laptops.

    Specifications and Details

    You will usually find VIA CPUs in mini-ITX format and a few in the nano-ITX format. The mini-ITX platform is a mere 17x17cm in size (size comparison) and usually uses the VIA C3, C7, Eden, or Luke processor. Most mini-ITX motherboard include: a single PCI slot (sometimes just a CardBus slot and sometimes both CardBus and PCI) or 2 PCI slots through a riser (only one physical PCI slot on the board itself), one or two DDR, DDR2, or SD RAM slots, one or two IDE ports and a floppy port (newer motherboards include SATA too), and the standard array of ports in the back that one would find on any modern PC.

    Current mini-ITX models:
    EPIA SP - Review - Good for HTPC.
    EPIA ML - Can be fanless.
    EPIA MS - Review - Very few built in ports. Have to use headers for outputs. Can be fanless.
    EPIA PD - Designed for PoS systems. Can be fanless.
    EPIA MII - Review - Built in CF and CardBus slots. Also has tv out. Good for HTPC. Can be fanless.
    EPIA TC - Review - Can use DC-DC adapter. Good for carputer or HTPC. Can be fanless.
    EPIA M - Review - Good for HTPC. Can be fanless.
    EPIA - Review - Bit on the slow side. Good for applications not requiring high speeds.
    EPIA CL - Review - Can be fanless.
    EPIA V - Bit on the slow side. Can be an HTPC. Can be fanless.
    EPIA EK - Can be fanless.
    EPIA CN - Review - Can be an HTPC. Uses C7 CPU.
    EPIA EX - Review - Can be an HTPC. Uses C7 CPU.
    VT-310DP - Review - Dual processors and gigabit ethernet. Also fanless.
    VB6002 - Uses Socket 479 and offers no integrated processor.
    EPIA PE
    EPIA LN
    EPIA LT
    EPIA EN - Review
    EPIA SN - Review
    VB7001




    Nano-ITX is VIA's midsize offering. At 12x12cm (size comparison), it is substantially smaller than the mini-ITX platform and not to mention microATX and ATX. Nano-ITX uses VIA's Luke or C7 processor line. Nano-ITX boards features a mini-PCI slot for expandability and a DDR/DDR2 SODIMM. The standard array of ports is featured on the nano-ITX platform, but only the bare essentials are built in onto the back of the board.

    Current nano-ITX models:
    EPIA NL - Lacks any built in ports, so you need to use headers.
    EPIA N - Review - Can be an HTPC or a tiny server.
    EPIA NX - Lacks most built in ports. Can be an HTPC. Uses C7 CPU.
    EPIA NR


    Current pico-ITX models:
    EPIA PX - Review


    VIA CPUs in laptops are rather uncommon, but they still exist. Laptops with VIA CPUs can use C7-M and C3-M processors. According to VIA's website, only a few laptops are currently made that include VIA processors. Finding a VIA CPU in a portable device would be more likely in a UMPC as those demand low power usage even more.

    Applications

    VIA's mini-ITX (and now nano-ITX) solutions are often associated with HTPCs, but they have many more uses, though, HTPCs are probably the main use. You can use them as servers, carputers, gaming, and many other things.

    HTPCs using the mini-ITX platform are quite popular because of their obvious small size. I'm not going to elaborate more because you can find out a lot about HTPCs in [H]ard|Forum's own HTPC section.

    Carputers are also another popular option for mini-ITX PCs. Carputers normally replace the on-board sound system (and other multimedia components) with a small PC. Simple carputers can be just a PC with a hard drive that plays music through the car's speaker system. Advanced carputers include touchscreen monitors, GPS units, and internet access. You can find out more about carputers here.

    Mini-ITX servers don't differ from their larger counterparts in many ways, so I won't go into details into them either.

    While you may not believe it, gaming is alive in well on the mini-ITX platform...though not in the form that you are probably most familiar with. Mini-ITX computers cannot handle modern games that require fast processors and high end graphics cards, but not all games require high end computers. While low end PC games will run to some extent, mini-ITX computers are rather popular with console and arcade emulators. To transform your computer into a console emulator, little is required other than some software and preferably a controller for the specified console (but a keyboard will work if you have no alternatives). More info can be found here and here.

    Where can I buy one?

    You may be surprised at first at the prices of VIA's products as they are higher than the Intel and AMD motherboards that are used in desktop PCs, but most also include the CPU.

    Vendors:
    Directron - Shipping: US & Canada
    LOGIC Supply - Shipping: US & Canada
    NCIX - Shipping: US & Canada
    Case-Mod - Shipping: US & Canada
    CaseOutlet - Shipping: US & Canada
    Kingston Computer Planet - Shipping: Canada
    ByteWize Computers - Shipping: Canada
    BWI - Shipping: US
    mini-ITX - Shipping: International
    mp3car - Shipping: International
    eWiz - Shipping: International
    Froogle - Shipping: Varies

    Helpful Links

    Official VIA website
    Mini-ITX.com
    EPIA Center
    Wikipedia


    Any contributions to this thread are greatly appreciated! :)
     
  2. DeadlyAura

    DeadlyAura 2[H]4U

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    Great start. One thing though: When you type "cpus", make sure its CPUs. It just gets annoying to read when lower cased.

    Also, I hve been researching the C7's a bit and what I have come up with is here:
    http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1005725
    Plus info provided by others.

    Edit: Ok, it's much better now. Great FAQ, good work, I was going to get one of these together after I finished up on the C7 thread but you beat me to it and did a great job.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. DeadlyAura

    DeadlyAura 2[H]4U

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    Another thing that makes these systems so great is that you can silently run dual processors on minimal power usage. Its the perfect computer for multi tasking and easy transportation.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Emission

    Emission 2[H]4U

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    Also the perfect silent workstation. These guys only use 14W of power at full speed, thats insane! Im tellin' yah' , the 50W PC is not a dream anymore :D
     
  5. Borgschulze

    Borgschulze 2[H]4U

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    Canadian sites who sell these Mini-ITX and Nano-ITX boards?
     
  6. Blue Fox

    Blue Fox [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Updated! :)
     
  7. Borgschulze

    Borgschulze 2[H]4U

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  8. ChingChang

    ChingChang [H]ardness Supreme

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    lol, thought the thread title was "VIA Fag" when I first saw it :)

    nice post, though.
     
  9. jebo_4jc

    jebo_4jc [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2011

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    Well done putting this thread together!

    VIA systems can be summed up by saying that they are used when small size, low power consumption, low heat output, and minimal noise are the main concerns, and the highest performance is not a concern.
    There are probably some good resources in the SFF forum, since VIA PC's are almost always micro ATX or smaller.

    I've been researching nano or mini-ITX systems for a possible bedroom HTPC to augment my other HTPC, and also as a possible car-PC.
     
  10. Mr Milquetoast

    Mr Milquetoast [H]Lite

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    Great FAQ, thanks a lot.

    I'd been looking at a VIA HTPC and saw a lot about the VIA CN700 for use with the C7 processor. It looks like the EPIA CN will use this combination and it's supposed to be coming out this quarter so I'd been waiting for that.

    Anyone know when they'll be in stores?
     
  11. LstOfTheBrunnenG

    LstOfTheBrunnenG [H]ardness Supreme

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    Same here. I figured some troll had decided to sneak some flames into the new forum.

    Might want to change the title from VIA Faq to VIA FAQ...
     
  12. Blue Fox

    Blue Fox [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I tried that, but it would not allow me to have the thread title in all caps...I guess an admin will have to change it.

    Edit: Fixed now thanks to MajorDomo! :)
     
  13. Lord of Shadows

    Lord of Shadows 2[H]4U

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    Holy crap there is a via form!

    (And so goes my 2048th post)
     
  14. eloj

    eloj 2[H]4U

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    We also have the EPIA EK. Built on the Luke CPU platform. Good for HTPC and servers. The 800MHz version is fanless.
     
  15. jadams

    jadams [H]ardness Supreme

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    hmmmm no post since 2006. I'll break that streak ;)

    Just used a MaxSpeed 8300 thin client, slapped in another NIC using a 90 degree pci riser and its not performing pfsense duties at home. It should be able to handle a 60Mb connection too. Not bad for under $50 total.
     
  16. red_josh10

    red_josh10 n00bie

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  17. doublejack

    doublejack Limp Gawd

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    Things have really changed in the past few years. Intel and AMD have gotten way more competitive in the low power segment, and ARM is the big player now. In fact, VIA offers several solutions for industrial and signage PCs that are based on ARM. I'd say it is safe to unsticky this thread, even though VIA does still make CPUs and GPUs. They are for such a narrow segment now, it doesn't make any sense to consider one for a HTPC or anything someone would do at home.
     
  18. defaultluser

    defaultluser I B Dum

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    Yeah, you're right: anyone building or buying a tiny PC today won't even bother with VIA. It's time that we throw away the trash :D
     
  19. pxc

    pxc Stay [H]ard

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    It's kind of strange that VIA continues to develop x86, especially when its products haven't really gone anywhere for the last couple of generations. It would probably be more successful if it let its x86 business go legacy (stale) and went into the low margin ARM SoC business like Allwinner or Rockchip.
     
  20. liiroy

    liiroy Limp Gawd

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    is VIA even making CPUs anymore?
     
  21. pendragon1

    pendragon1 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    nice double necro guys...
     
    Ron024 likes this.