Mini-ITX has been around for a while but it seems to be finally coming into its own. It and other small computer and single-board form factors have really come out of the box, so to speak. There are many products and vendors offering interesting solutions. The speeds and feeds of small form-factor motherboards are limited only by the size of the footprint since only one or two memory modules, a single CPU, and maybe a PCI Express slot will usually fit on a mini-ITX motherboard. But they also can handle a front side bus, CPU, and memory components with access/clock speeds that match those that larger boards can handle. There are lots of possibilities for new, different, and creative computing systems using small form-factor and low-power motherboards.
Future Plans For Toaster RAID
While planning this system's build, there were several alternative motherboards and drive configurations that could have been used. There are much higher capacity 2.5-inch drives available, and for an additional cost, a server with 2 TB or more of capacity could have been built. There are also several interesting small motherboards on the market that would make for a good file server, as well.
The pico-ITX board from VIA looks interesting and I would like to build a very small toaster RAID with it. It only offers one SATA port but maybe something innovative can be developed. There are solid state storage solutions available for reasonable prices.
Atom CPU On A Mini-ITX Board
The new low-power Atom processor from Intel also looks interesting, and there are Atom boards available with four SATA ports. Low-power systems, global positioning processors, packet-data modems, vehicle bus interfaces, and wireless carrier accounts all mean that interesting and powerful in-vehicle computing systems could be developed for a reasonable price.
VIA 7500 With Five Ethernet Ports; 7800 With Eight SATA Ports
The VIA NAB 7500-15DVB Network Appliance Development Board has four SATA ports and five Ethernet ports. With all these network ports, this would make a good network file server. The VIA NAS 7800-15LST NAS board has eight SATA ports, and an option for four more. This could be used to make a Toaster RAID with tremendous capacity.