IntroductionIt's been a while since we took a peek at an EPIA, VIA Technology's mini-ITX mainboard model line that integrates everything but memories in terms of building a fully working PC. Add a memory module and a disk drive and the highly integrated miniature mainboard provide the rest, be that graphics, connectivity, audio and often much more. Their appeal is therefore easy to see, provided you have a genuine use for such integration, given the caveats.
You see EPIA systems are traditionally a generation or two behind on the CPU side of things when it comes to performance, and their integrated graphics cores leave a lot to be desired, even when compared to IGPs from other vendors. However, the miniaturisation of the EPIA means that, providing the power is acceptable, it can be used for a decently wide range of small form factor PC systems.
That miniaturisation extends to the CPU now with an EPIA system, VIA asking IBM to manufacture their brand new C7 microprocessor which sips less than 20W at 2GHz, and usually much, much less. Pair that CPU with a VIA CN700 northbridge, one that integrates a UniChrome Pro graphics core, and other peripheral ICs (all from the VIA stable, keeping things very much in-house) and with a PCI slot you've got the potential for a decent computing platform for a range of tasks.
It's that which makes the EPIA such a unique beast, but also very much a niche product. More on that later. So join us to see if the latest CN13000 EPIA, with 1.3GHz C7 processor and support for DDR2 memory, is worth the readies for folks that know they'd like one.