VIA Technologies has taken a nose dive into the mobility market with its IVP-7500 system, a decked-out motherboard for in-car mounted PCs.
Forget dragging that laptop around: it's high time computers get fully integrated into our automobiles--although a few brave modders have already done this. Granted driving and computing is probably far worse than driving and texting on the BlackBerry, an in-car PC is not only luxurious, but will eventually become a part of ever day living. There's no doubt that surfing the Internet on a smartphone will be a thing of the past; video assisted parking will make those busy-street-parallel-parking scenarios a breeze. An in-car mounted PC could even grab streaming video from the Internet or download music on the fly.
With that in mind, VIA Technologies has revealed the VIA IVP-7500, the first in a series of dedicated x86 in-vehicle motherboards for developers of car PCs and "intelligent transportation devices." Built for ruggedness and in-vehicle computing, the new motherboard offers a strong multimedia performance while staying versatile, scalable and extremely power efficient. Measuring at 114mm x 185.5mm, the VIA IVP-7500 motherboard can fit in a variety of dashboard settings, including one or two DIN designs as well as discrete, in-seat and headrest designs.
But let's not get hasty here: this motherboard--or rather platform as VIA calls it--isn't meant for playing high-maintenance games like F.E.A.R. 2 and Crysis. In fact, it has VIA's Eden ULV fanless processor--clocking in at a mere 1.0 GHz--built right in. The platform also features a DDR2 533/400 SODIMM socket (up to 1 GB memory size, ECC support for DDR2 400), VIA's integrated UniChrome Pro II 3D/2D AGP GPU with MPEG-2/4 and WMV9 video decoding acceleration, and on-board IDE featuring one UltraDMA 133/100/166/33 with an FFC connector (for those 1.8-inch hard drives).
But while this "platform" isn't necessarily a computing powerhouse, the VIA IVP-7500 does offer a few other on-board goodies. These include a QCOM Bluetooth module through USB, a LeadTek LR9102/LP GPS module (through COM2 I/F with external IPEX antenna), an FM transmitter (NS73M61AU) using frequency 87.5 to 108.0 MHz, and an embedded version of Windows XP (yes!), Linux, or Win CE. The platform has on-board audio too, using VIA's VT1708B high definition audio codec. The platform offers support for an LCD (TTL) panel interface and even features TV-out, VGA outputs, and camera ports including A/V (via mini-USB) and V-CAM for monitoring applications. The platform can even read SD cards.
"Intelligent transportation devices are making the transition from an enthusiast to mainstream audience," said Daniel Wu, Vice President, VIA Embedded, VIA Technologies, Inc. "The VIA IVP-7500 carries our expertise in developing stable, compact, energy-efficient systems to this high-growth sector, bringing with it faster product development cycles and the flexibility to offer consumers more than just a car PC."
For consumers looking to build an in-care PC, this is probably a good place to start. Outside hard-core processing, the board seems to offer quite a few goodies, especially with the built-in GPS and high definition audio. The IVP-7500 isn't quite a netbook, but more inline with a high-class multimedia platform. While the specs didn't offer any information in regards to Wi-Fi, this application might be one of the cases where users tether an Internet-ready mobile phone in order to browser the Internet. Still, having a built-in PC would be really cool to have, especially if a separate DVD system isn't currently in place.
VIA said that it is currently offering samples of the VIA IVP-7500 board to project customers, however the company did not offer pricing or availability.