VIA's Em-ITX form factor has I/O on two sides

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Video: World Builder

em-itx
Something I never really even considered about the various form factors of PCs I’ve set up in my time are that most of the inputs and outputs are clustered on one side. Of course, that’s because it makes a lot of sense, for a desktop situation where most of your stuff should be plugged in the back, but what about embedded/small form-factor systems where you don’t have space to be running cables around, or the density of I/O ports in one tiny area becomes hazardous? Why, you just shift a bunch of them to the other side, like VIA’s done.

There aren’t going to be any cases meant to use this setup for a while (and likely they’ll be first-party to begin with, like VIA’s Artigo), but it’s a cool idea and one of which you can immediately see the benefits. We have a form of this in our consumer mobos in the form of unused USB pinouts and such for expansion boards, front panels and so on, but having it hardwired would be a lot nicer (my front ports aren’t high-speed USB because of the way I had to set it up).

Of course, these Em-ITX boards will be in embedded and proprietary devices first (it’s quite small), but let’s hope some of the design decisions make their way into some more consumer-oriented gear.

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