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Nano Platform: VIA EPIA-SN

Atom, Athlon, or Nano? Energy-Savers Compared
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VIA’s Nano processors are not available individually. Instead, you have to purchase an integrated motherboard solution that comes with the CPU and a VIA chipset. We received an EPIA-SN board for review, which came with the Nano L2100 top model at 1.8 GHz. Its mini-ITX format is favorable for ultra-compact PC designs such as Internet appliances, terminal PCs, thin clients, and similar systems.

Networking-Ready

This is the only small low-power board in our roundup that comes with two networking ports. One of them supports Gigabit speeds, while the other one is a 100 Mb/s port. Although this isn’t sufficient to use it as a router with firewall capabilities (since you would need a third port to create a DMZ) or a router for multiple network segments, it is certainly sufficient for customizable DSL routers or similar applications. The board offers VIA’s encryption engine and random number generator, which are part of the Nano processor. This particular board seems to be suitable for entry-level NAS products, as it pairs two networking ports with decent processing power.

Limited Upgrade Options, Sufficient Features

The feature set isn’t comprehensive, but it is sufficient. There is an x16 PCI Express slot, which accepts all sorts of plug-in upgrades. An old-fashioned 32-bit PCI slot isn’t available, as it wouldn’t fit into the mini-ITX form factor. VIA’s southbridge offers four SATA/300 ports with NCQ support and one UltraATA/133 channel. Due to the high level of integration, it is not possible to upgrade the board, but the features provide sufficient options for most low-power applications.

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