VIA EPIA series SBC - any views?

Started by ElderUberGeek June 7, 2007
Has anyone used the EPIA series board from VIA?
Specifically the EK model:


ElderUberGeek wrote:

>Has anyone used the EPIA series board from VIA? > >Specifically the EK model: >
420 No, but after reading the spec I am just about to order one. If I do, what do you want to know about it? Also, do you know who has the best price? -- Guy Macon <>
 ElderUberGeek <> writes:

> Has anyone used the EPIA series board from VIA?
Yes. My desktop machine is a disk-less and fan-less VIA Mini-ITX based system. Totally quiet with no moving parts other than the power and reset switch (which I never use). I also use several other VIA Mini-ITX systems for Web-servers, firewall, etc. Petter -- A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text. Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing? A: Top-posting. Q: What is the most annoying thing on usenet and in e-mail?
ElderUberGeek wrote:
>Has anyone used the EPIA series board from VIA? > >Specifically the EK model: >
See: They list many projects, although almost all of them are only about "original" ways of housing the VIA boards. Roberto Waltman [ Please reply to the group, return address is invalid ]
On Jun 7, 7:29 am, ElderUberGeek <> wrote:
> Has anyone used the EPIA series board from VIA?
I have not used that specific model. I have, however, used a couple of different Epia flavors starting with the very first Mini-ITX motherboard Via released (I guess that was in 2003 or thereabouts). We were replacing Geode-based boards for higher performance. For a high-end application running a big "desktop type" OS like Linux or similar, it's a very cost-effective solution compared to using a similarly-configured SBC. You also have the convenience that you can design a single box that will accept a variety of boards in the same form factor, so you can future-proof the housing to a certain degree. There are some annoyances with using these boards: - Relatively large volume (can be mitigated by underclocking the hardware and scaling down the heatsinks/fans). You can get the same performance in a much smaller SBC form factor if you're willing to pay the cost delta. - Complicated power supply requirements. - Much greater power consumption/heat dissipation issues than a comparable non-x86 system. - No published schedule of lifecycle. These are consumer PC components and could be discontinued or spun tomorrow, although Via's history is much better than most in this regard.
On 2007-06-07, ElderUberGeek <> wrote:
> > Has anyone used the EPIA series board from VIA? > > Specifically the EK model: >
Not familiar specifically with the EK boards but have experience of several of the other EPIA boards and generally rate them. There are a few comments I'd make however: You can run into occasional compatibility niggles. Some of the horror stories you read on the net are a little overdramatic but they can crop up with certain software or hardware. In particular there are consistent reports of problems with VIA chipsets and certain Soundblaster cards. I wouldn't have thought that specific problem would crop up on these boards too often since you'd usually use the onboard audio, but it's something to be aware of. Personally, the only problem of that nature I've encountered is software - I usually run NetBSD and its bootloader doesn't like the boards. That's easily sorted going back to an older version of the bootloader code, which is more typical of problems - you can work around them easily enough, it's just a little hassle to do so. Like, I said though, for the most part the difficulties are vastly exaggerated, and they are in any case far more compatible than many boards usually used in an embedded context. Another point is that these boards run _HOT_, especially the passively cooled types. For the boards themselves this doesn't seem to be a problem, they can handle working at an elevated temperature for long periods. But it is something to bear in mind when you are thinking about enclosures, venting and such matters. Somebody else has already mentioned the power supply requirements and they have at least half a point in that most of the have an ATX-style power connector with the same requirements. For these systems it's usual to run them off DC-DC convertors which simply need a 12V supply, although that is something else to consider (they are available seperately, though often supplied with specialised ITX cases). The TC range have the convertor built in so all you need is a 12V supply. 60W is enough to power an entire system - board, HDD and optical drive, although that doesn't leave much leeway. I've used standard HDDs and laptop optical drives perfectly happily within that power budget. -- Andrew Smallshaw