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Fanless Pico-ITXe SBC runs Linux on quad-core Eden X4

Oct 30, 2015 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 1,361 views

[Updated: Nov. 1] — VIA’s “EPIA-E900” SBC uses VIA’s own Eden X4 processor, and debuts a reincarnated “Pico-ITXe” form-factor featuring MXM-based PCIe and multi-I/O expansion.

VIA’s new EPIA-E900 single-board computer introduces a second generation of the Pico-ITXe form-factor that VIA demoed at an Embedded Systems Conference back in October 2008. Although this Pico-ITXe re-spin has the same name, it bears little resemblance to the now-defunct Pico-ITXe v1.0.

Two views of the EPIA-E900
(click images to enlarge)

While the original Pico-ITXe footprint measured the same 100 x 72mm as Pico-ITX but added self-stacking SUMIT expansion, today’s Pico-ITXe is extended by 38mm to accommodate a coplanar MXM socket that carries a collection of I/O interfaces plus PCI Express. The “e” in this Pico-ITXe incarnation stands for “extended.,” a feature that “allows for quick design of [MXM-interfaced] expansion cards to match customers’ specific I/O requirements,” says VIA.

The EPIA-E900 also appears to be the first SBC to use VIA’s 1.2GHz quad-core Eden X4 x86-compatible processor that popped up recently in VIA’s fanless AMOS-3005 box-PC.

Block diagrams: EPIA-E900 SBC (left) and VX11 chipset
(click image to enlarge)

The EPIA-E900 SBC’s Eden X4 processor is a quad-core spin of VIA’s earlier 64-bit, x86-compatible Eden X2, integrating two 28nm chips within a single 21 x 21mm NanoBGA2 package. On the the EPIA-E900, the Eden X4 is accompanied by VIA’s VX11H “Media System Processor” chipset, which provides the DRAM interface, GPU, and USB functions. The VX11H’s graphics functions include VIA Chrome 640 DX11 2D/3D graphics, video processing, HD video decoding, and DirectX 11.0 3D rendering.

“The only difference between the VX11 and VX11H is that the VX11H includes HDCP support for content protection,” explained VIA in an email. “The block diagrams and all other functionality are the same.”

EPIA-E900 details
(click image to enlarge)

The board’s coastline ports include a pair each of USB 3.0, USB 2.0, UART, and gigabit Ethernet interfaces, plus a Mini-HDMI interface. There’s also a USB header for optional addition of VIA’s EMIO-1533 WiFi module. A single SODIMM socket supports up to 8GB DDR3-1333 SDRAM.

The MXM expansion interface provides signals for external functions including SATA, USB, DisplayPort/HDMI, LVDS, audio, GPIO, and a PCIe x4 channel. According to VIA, “customers can leverage the MXM connector to quickly expand functionality to match their unique I/O requirements with the creation of a custom Smart I/O expansion card.”

Operating system support spans “most popular Linux distributions,” along with Windows 7/8/10 and WES 7. VIA also supports the board with “a wide range of software development tools… including the VIA Smart ETK,” says the company.

VIA lists these specifications for the EPIA-E900 SBC:

  • Processor — 1.2GHz VIA Eden X4 (fanless)
  • Chipset — VIA VX11H (includes graphics controller with integrated Chrome 640 DX11 3D/2D graphics, with MPEG-2, WMV9/VC1/H.264 decoding)
  • Memory — 1x SODIMM socket, for up to 8GB DDR3-1333 RAM
  • Onboard I/O:
    • 1x SATA port
    • Networking — 2x gigabit Ethernet ports
    • Graphics — 1x mini-HDMI port
    • 2x USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0 ports
    • 1x USB header that supports VIA’s EMIO-1533 WiFi module
    • 2x COM ports
  • Expansion I/O (via MXM connector):
    • 1x SATA
    • DisplayPort/HDMI
    • 1x DVP
    • Single-channel 18/24-bit LVDS
    • 4x USB 2.0
    • 1x COM port (from VX11)
    • HD Audio (requires external codec)
    • GPIO (3 in, 3 out)
    • LPC and SPI buses
    • 1x PCIe x4 channel
  • Other features — Wake-on-LAN, keyboard/timer power-on, system power management, AC power failure recovery, watchdog timer
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C
  • Dimensions — 138 x 72mm; Pico-ITXe form-factor
  • Power — 12V DC; consumption TBD
  • Operating systems — Linux (most popular versions); Windows 7/8/10, WES 7

Further information

The EPIA-E900 appears to be available now, at an unstated price. More details may be found at VIA’s EPIA-E900 product page.

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