VIA recently announced a new motherboard and processor combination meant for embedded systems like Point of Sale (POS) machines and digital signage. The EPIA-M920 is the company's first mini-ITX form factor board to feature its VXIIH chipset. VIA has packed a lot into this 17cm x 17cm motherboard, and the specs suggest that it is a capable machine. It can't match the NUC, but it should cost less — and one SKU can even be run fanless. The EPIA-M920 comes in two iterations depending on the processor you select: the 12Q and the 10E. The EPIA-M920-12Q packs a 1.2GHz VIA QuadCore E processor, and requires a CPU HSF with fan. On the other hand, the EPIA-M920-10E is powered by a VIA Eden X2 dual core processor at 1.0GHz. The 10E version can run without any heatsink fans, and is passively cooled by two small aluminum heatsinks over the VXIIH chipset and processor.
The VXIIH chipset includes the Chromotion 5.0 video processor that hardware accelerates a number of video codecs includinig MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC-1, and H.264. VIA claims that the graphics processor can handle videos with those codecs at resolutions up to 1080p (they did not specify bit rates, however) without affecting the CPU. Further, the GPU supports DirectX 11 graphics and stereoscopic 3D content.
The VIA motherboard can support up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM running at 1333MHz (via two SO-DIMM slots). Internal headers include:
- 2 x LVDS (Low Voltage Differential Signaling)
- 1 x USB 3.0
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 2 x SATA
- 3 x RS232 (congifurable: 5V/12V)
- SDHC card slot
- PCI-E x4 slot
In addition, the mini ITX motherboard will happily accept power connections from either an AC or CD power supply and is compatible with the slim, low wattage, DC PSUs though no specific recommended wattage was stated.
Rear IO on the motherboard is also fairly impressive considering the size. Via has packed in the following connectors.
- Dual Gigabit LAN ports powered by two VIA VT6130 controllers.
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x HDMI
- 1 x VGA
- 1 x COM
- 3 x audio jacks (VIA VT2021 HD codec)
- 2 x PS/2 ports
The VIA EPIA-M920 motherboard supports Windows 7, but it is primarily aimed at embedded markets, and as such is compatible with the Windows Embedded Standard 7, Windows XP Embedded, and POSReady 7 operating systems. VIA intends for this system to be used to power digital signage, point of sale machines, ATMs, kiosks, embedded gaming platforms, and other digital media applications where low power flourishes. VIA Technologies Embedded Platform Division Head Epan Wu stated that "the VIA EPIA-M920 Mini-ITX packs in all of the latest technologies from VIA providing embedded system designers an ideal platform to create groundbreaking new devices."
Unfortunately, no pricing or availability information was stated in the press release. It should be available to system integrators soon, however. You can find more photos of the EPIA-M920 mini ITX motherboard in VIA's photo gallery.