Via introduces new Em-ITX form factor

By Justin Mann on
Via has recently bestowed a new gift upon the miniature PC world, with the introduction of a new form factor that promises to not only make Via-based systems smaller but also give them more I/O density. Their new Em-ITX form factor will be around 30% smaller than the existing Mini-ITX form factor, with a profile of 12cm x 17cm, but of course this also results in the board being tinier than traditional I/O backplanes are. To solve the problem of having to sacrifice input ports, Via tossed traditional motherboard design and has incorporated a dual coastline design. Essentially, Em-ITX boards will have a second set of I/O ports opposite to the first, letting you get twice as many inputs on a small board.

The advantages of this are pretty clear. You increase board density and decrease its size without having to sacrifice any inputs – a great deal all around but there are downsides at the same time. With Em-ITX, existing enclosures will not work, meaning new enclosures need to be designed. However, aiming it at kiosks and other specialty applications, Via doesn't see this as a problem. Furthermore, they've also made modular expansion a possibility on these new boards, letting you add and remove input ports of all sorts, from USB to Firewire to SATA to DVI and more. You can read more in the full press release after the jump.
VIA Unveils Em-ITX, the First Form Factor Standard with Dual I/O Coastlines

VIA Em-ITX form factor reduces cable clutter, improves airflow and enables sub-2cm high embedded systems

Taipei, Taiwan, 3 March 2008 - VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced its latest board form factor for embedded system developers; the Em-ITX form factor. Offering embedded developers a compact, versatile and highly integrated board form factor, VIA’s Em-ITX establishes an off-the-shelf standard for ultra-slim embedded devices.

The Em-ITX form factor is a new open industry standard defined by VIA, and is 30% more compact than Mini-ITX, yet offers 200% more I/O real estate. At 12cm x 17cm, the Em-ITX form factor includes unique dual I/O coastlines and an exclusive Em-IO expansion bus to bring unrivalled flexibility and scalability. Benefits also include reduced time-to-market cycles for developers and access to a scalable processor platform that includes the latest 64-bit VIA Nano processor.

Embedded boards based on the Em-ITX form factor will form the ideal base for industrial automation, digital signage, kiosk and other applications requiring an ultra-slim embedded device.

Dual I/O Coastlines

The VIA developed Em-ITX form factor specification includes dual I/O coastlines; I/O inputs can be found on both 17cm edges of the board. This unique design greatly reduces cable clutter facilitating even more compact and robust designs while also boosting signal integrity and improving airflow. A variety of connectors are available on these two I/O coastlines, including COM (RS-232/422/485), RJ45, DVI, VGA, LVDS, USB 2.0 and DC power signals.

Modular Expansion through Em-IO Bus

The Em-ITX form factor utilizes the Em-IO expansion bus to integrate with stackable, customizable, expansion modules. The Em-IO expansion bus integrates the majority of popular bus signal technologies, including USB 2.0, GPIO, LPC, PCIe, IDE, IEEE 1394, S-ATA, PCI, DVI, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet and Card Bus signals.

Faster Time to Market Cycles

VIA has also designed a selection of expansion modules covering a variety of industrial applications including networked applications, multimedia display, kiosk, POI and POS applications. The expansion modules bring all the advantages of custom designed boards without the necessary development time. VIA also provides unrivalled software support including customized firmware implementations.

“VIA is known globally as a pioneer of small form factor boards that have become industry standards, and Em-ITX is the latest platform to address the evolving needs of embedded developers,” said Daniel Wu, Vice President, VIA Embedded, VIA Technologies, Inc. “With its extensive I/O accessibility, this innovative form factor can deliver ultra-slim systems or customized stacked systems for a wide range of embedded applications.”

Products based on the Em-ITX form factor will be available early next month.

For more details about the Em-ITX form factor please visit:

http://www.via.com.tw/en/initiatives/spearhead/em-itx/index.jsp

A white paper with more details on this new form factor is available here:

http://www.via.com.tw/en/downloads/whitepapers/initiatives/spearhead/WP090303Em-ITX.pdf

A demo featuring forthcoming Em-ITX based products will be shown at Embedded World 2009 in Germany this week. For more details, please visit the VIA website at: http://www.via.com.tw/en/company/events/2009-ew/index.jsp

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