[mythtv-users] [OT] VIA EPIA - Share your experiences. Desktop has it arrived?

R. G. Newbury newbury at mandamus.org
Tue Sep 26 17:55:42 UTC 2006


Babstar wrote:
> Hello,
>           I am seeking peoples experiences with VIA EPIA systems. 
>     I am considering one as a replacement desktop for www/email, not
> gaming.  Has the EPIA arrived as a open source desktop system?

Absolutely yes, especially for a desktop for 'normal' office use, or for 
a backend file/email/printer server.
> Pro's
> * Low power consumption > * Quiet > * Small > * Cheap
All of the above. (Except you do need to change the fan on the CPU for a 
Silenx or similar. The supplied one is kinda whiny.)

> Cons
> * Vendor lock-in for the*whole* system - Dependant upon a single vendor
> for BIOS/binaries/patches
> * Relatively little vendor support
True for BIOS but not bothersome, irrelevant for the rest.

> Questions
> * VIA's attitude to linux - Good, bad or indifferent?
Reasonable to indifferent, it appears, but getting better.
> * Unichrome chipset - Is this a binary blobs? Problems?

Use openchrome: much better and advancing steadily, especially as VIA 
appears to have released information about chipsets to some outside coders.

> * DMA issues resolved?
Ancient history, the chipset involved is no longer used.

> * Support/ mailing lists, dedicated linux EPIA wiki
> * Distro neutral driver & patches.
Lots actually... although you have to look.
Fedora, for example, installs without a glitch.

> * Sufficient CPU horsepower for desktop system
> * System stability
Sufficient for mythtv with the correct hardware and easily enough for 
desktop use. I'm seriously thinking of using these for my next office 
machines...the mid tower beasts are too large and too noisy.

> In short the EPIA concept is great for a low powered cheap desktop
> system.  Does the reality match the theory using open source software?
Yes.

Tagged in here:
I'll piggyback on these questions, if that's OK.

Does anyone here use an Epia-based system to display HDTV?  What's your 
setup?

EPIA and HDTV is tricky, because people try to compare apples to oranges...
For input, an HD3000 card or equivalent will grab HD content without 
difficulty as it is just a digital stream. The mb will send it to the 
hard drive without problem.

For output, things get foggy. I have an SP13000. I have an HD TV clip, 
which I have downloaded. (I don't have access to an HD stream at 
present) My mb would output an HD image to my old CRT monitor without 
difficulty, but it only had about 4 seconds of sound, then silence ...in 
mplayer, xine or mythtv. I think the clip was bad.

I now have an LCD for a monitor and I have not tried the HD clip withit 
as the native resolution is only 1280x1024, unlike the 21" Dell CRT.

THAT OUTPUT IS THROUGH THE VGA PLUG.

Output through the S-video or composite is limited by the capabilities 
of the TV out video chipset. The SP13000 (aka CN400 aka VT1623) is 
limited apparently to 1024x1024 through the TV out. The newer EN series 
use the VT1625 chipset which is touted as HD capable to 
1920x1080..Vapour? Fog? Deja mooo? No idea.

But people have reported on this list that they can view HD level 
streams using EPIA motherboards. But they are driving a 1300x720 or 
whatever level screen *as a monitor* using output from the VGA plug, or 
from a LCD daughterboard output (That is, NOT the TV-out). But that will 
come, and not too far in the future, I think.

So the answer is....It depends.

If you don't need HD, then a VIA is fine. Been there, doing that and 
having fun.




              R. Geoffrey Newbury			
            Barrister and Solicitor
       Suite 106, 150 Lakeshore Road West
          Mississauga, Ontario, L5H 3R2

         o905-271-9600 f905-271-1638
           newbury at mandamus.org

        Helping with the HTTP issue
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