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VIA Technologies, traditional chipset manufacturer that has recently bought S3, known video processor manufacturer, Centaur and Cyrix, processor manufacturers, is leading the industry in the creation of a new motherboard form factor, called ITX.
This form factor is designed to cheap, compact and highly integrated computers, following the company’s present philosophy of offering not the fastest computer on the market, but the cheapest, since most people want a computer just to surf on the Internet and type a text.
The idea of the ITX motherboard is to have everything on-board (that is, video, audio, modem and network on the motherboard itself), making the installation of new peripherals needless. So, its size is a lot reduced, since there is not the need of having many expansion slots. ITX motherboards traditionally have only 2 PCI slots, as you can see in Figure 1.
Figure 1: ITX motherboard.
The ITX format is based on the ATX motherboard format. The great difference is in the size, as we show in the table below.
|ATX||12.0″ (30.5 cm)||9.6″ (24.4 cm)|
|Mini ATX||11.2″ (28.4 cm)||8.2″ (20.8 cm)|
|Flex ATX||9.0″ (22.9 cm)||7.5″ (19.1 cm)|
|microATX||9.6″ (24.4 cm)||9.6″ (24.4 cm)|
|ITX||8.5″ (21.5 cm)||7.5″ (19.1 cm)|
|Mini-ITX||6.7″ (17 cm)||6.7″ (17 cm)|
|Nano-ITX||4.7″ (12 cm)||4.7″ (12 cm)|
Another difference in this motherboard is the power supply. As it has less peripherals and the existing ones are not of high consumption (it is not the idea to install a 3D last generation video board on this board), the power supply can be physically smaller, also to make a more compact computer. The plug that connects the power supply to the motherboard can also be smaller (thinner) than the one nowadays used in ATX motherboards.
In Figure 2 we see an ITX motherboard installed in an ITX case. Notice that the case is much smaller than the present cases, not having any wasted room.
Figure 2: ITX motherboard installed in an ITX case.