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Legacy ETX module taps power-sipping x86 CPU

Apr 20, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 997 views

VIA’s Linux-friendly legacy replacement ETX computer-on-module features a vintage VIA Eden X1 CPU, native PCI/ISA support, and an optional Mini-ITX carrier.

VIA Technologies has gone to the way-back machine with the VIA ETX-8X90-10GR, a computer-on-module that complies with the ETX 3.0 standard introduced by Kontron back in 2006. Like Adlink’s ETX-BT module from 2014, the VIA ETX-8X90-10GR is intended as a fully-compatible plug-in replacement for legacy customers who would rather upgrade existing embedded or industrial systems that contain ETX COMs with a faster processor and RAM and more modern I/O, rather than switch to a new hardware design.

VIA ETX-8X90-10GR, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

While Adlink’s ETX-BT used a relatively modern Intel Atom E3800, the VIA ETX-8X90-10GR goes back further to the VIA Eden X1. This is one of the first of several Eden generations of power-sipping, x86-compatible Eden chips that have now advanced to a 1.2GHz quad-core Eden X4.

The single-core, 1.06GHz Eden X1 E-Series processor provided here is mated with a VIA VX900 MSP chip. This provides Via Chrome9 graphics with DirectX 9 support and “hardware acceleration of VC1, WMV9, MPEG-2, and H.264, says VIA. The VIA ETX-8X90-10GR supports most popular Linux distributions, as well as Windows 7, XP, CE 6.0, WES 7, and even DOS.

At 114 x 95mm, the VIA ETX-8X90-10GR COM is larger than most of today’s single board computers. Despite the legacy focus, the module has some relatively modern components as well. It supports up to 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and offers 18/24-bit, dual-channel LVDS, in addition to a VGA port with resolutions of up to 2560 x 1600.

VIA ETX-8X90-10GR (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The board is further equipped with a Fast Ethernet controller with Wake-on-LAN, four USB 2.0 interfaces, an optional microSD slot, and two optional mini-USB ports. There are also a SATA port, dual COM, and dual PCI interfaces. Legacy interfaces include a native ISA bus and IDE storage support, with a second IDE interface optional.

Detail views for VIA ETX-8X90-10GR (left) and carrier board
(click image to enlarge)

The module is equipped with a VIA Padlock security encryption engine, HD audio I/O, Super I/O, SMBus, and I2C interfaces. The board supports AT power, as well as temperatures of 0 to 60°C. A watchdog and other system monitoring features are also available.

Coastline view of VIA ETX-8X90-10GR carrier board
(click image to enlarge)

An optional VIA ETX-8X90 Starter Kit provides a Mini-ITX carrier board, heatsink and heatspreader. The board extends the module’s interfaces, providing coastline ports including Ethernet, four USB, and VGA and COM ports. VIA can also help customers develop their own custom baseboard.

Further information

The VIA ETX-8X90-10GR appears to be available now. More information may be found at VIA’s VIA ETX-8X90-10GR product page.

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