Now while we will certainly be dropping this board onto one of the test benches very soon, we also were reminded of a conversation we had recently with a former Via Employee. During that he commented on the fact that Via created the Mini-ITX form factor and that they were unsuccessful in getting it any market traction. As he said that, I remembered all the hype and hoopla over Mini-ITX PSUs cases that could support multiple systems (as long as one was Mini-ITX) and even arranging to test one of these board and case combos. However, the hardware never materialized.
In fact the Mini-ITX hardware never materialized for many people. The project was effectively scrapped. It was a shame to see this happen to another promising product from Via, but as a smaller company they were at a great disadvantage to both Intel and AMD. So, why the return to the market for this form factor? According to what I have found out, it was Intel who decided on the form factor for Atom and as such they, with their much larger market presence (and power) have been able to push this in a way that Via never could.
But it is not just Atom and ION that enjoy being able to run on this tiny little form factor. The H5x, P55, and AMD’s 8xx series chipset can run on this. We have been contacted about boards running this size using all of these. They are tiny and cramped systems, but they have a performance potential that is staggering when you think about it. I mean imagine a system with a Core i7 875K (or Phenom II X6 1090T), 8GB of DDR3 2000, liquid cooling, and a Radeon HD 5970, and a pair of SSDs. This could rival almost any full sized system out there. It is something that we have been eager to seen, and something that we will most certainly be testing for you in the coming weeks. We are almost certain that while Via failed to push this into the market, their idea will not die now that Intel and AMD are getting onboard and seeing the value in it. So look forward to the rush of small, powerful, Mini-ITX products from the various OEMs out there, just remember that it was Via who brought it to you.