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VXL Itona: TC4321 Hardware 


 


 

 



VXL Itona TC4321

I believe this motherboard is used the TC43xx and TC44xx series (although the latter still has to be verified). I have a TC4321 (Manufactured December 06) and TC4331 (Manufactured January 07). These are identical except for the flash/ram/operating system configuration.

Specifications

The basic specs are:

Processor
   Type
   Speed
Via C7 Esther
1GHz
MemoryTC4321TC4331
   Flash
   RAM
256Mb
256Mb (max 1GB)
32MB
128MB (max 1GB)
Video
   Chip
   Max resolution
Via CN700
1920 x 1440 16-bit colour
Ports
   Network
   USB
   Serial
   Parallel
   PS/2
10/100
4 x USB2.0
2
1
Kybd & mouse
Power
   Off
   Idle
   Running
1W
16W-19W
28W
Dimensions
W x H x D5.5cm x 23cm x 23cm
ManufacturedTC4321TC4331
 December 2006January 2007

The itona TC4321 runs XP embedded.
The Itona TC4331 runs GIO Linux

CPU

For those to whom it matters here is some detail from Linux's /proc/cpuinfo

vendor_id:CentaurHauls
cpu family:6
model:10
model name:VIA Esther Processor 1000MHz
stepping:9

Power Supply

The TC43xx has an internal power supply with a standard IEC connector on the rear panel.

Motherboard TC4321: click for larger image

The motherboard has VXL screen printed on it but it also carries the identifier GA-C7V7VX-RH. Gigabyte identifies their boards with part numbers beginning GA, but their website does not own up to this part number - probably as it may be a special for VXL. However I've since found this link to the GA-C7V7-RH motherboard manual. (Note: No VX in the part number!)

It supports a VIA C7 CPU, VIA CN700 Northbridge, VIA VT8237R Plus Southbridge and RTL 8100C ethernet chip.

Click on the photo for a larger version.

Expansion

As it is based on a mini-ITX board as you would expect both the Flash memory and the RAM in the Itona are easily replaceable.

Flash: The flash memory is a Disk-On-Module plugged into the red IDE connector. It is powered through the IDE connector. (Pin 20, normally removed as a 'key', is fitted and is used to supply the power). There is a second 40-pin IDE socket adjacent to it but pin 20 is not fitted to this socket.

RAM: There is a single 240-pin DDR2 DIMM socket for the RAM. The 256Mb DIMM supplied with the unit is labelled: 256MB PC533 HYNIX. I've removed this and replaced it by a 1GB DIMM (PC2-5300U-555-12-ZZ) which was only reported as being 512MB. However I have since fitted an Integral 1GB DIMM (IN2T1GNVKDX) that was recognised as such. The manual I found does not give a maximum size of memory that can be fitted.

USB: There is an unused header on the motherboard adjacent to the one that is connected to the USB sockets on the front panel.

PCI: The board does have a PCI slot on it, but the case is not engineered in a way that would let you make use of it.

tc4321 Dongle clip Wireless: Behind the plastic clip-on front panel there is a clip arrangement on the metalwork that looks as though it is designed to hold a USB wireless dongle. The plastic front panel does have a 'light pipe' through it with a wireless symbol marked next to it. I assume the dongle would be connected via a flying lead to the spare USB header on the motherboard and, if you happen to have picked the right make/model, the LED on the dongle will match up to the light pipe to give you a visible activity indicator.

SATA: There is space on the board for two SATA sockets between the battery and the PCI slot. No sockets are fitted, but it does offer scope to anybody who can wield a soldering iron and wishes to fit one or two. (Modern SSDs have SATA interfaces). Note the VT8237R Plus supports the 150Mb/s SATA I interface.

ModsSATA sockets on the C7V7

SATA

In late October 2012 I had an email from Menno in the Netherlands who was trying to use the SATA interface on the board. He had fitted some salvaged SATA sockets to the board but was having no success in having any connected drives being recognised as being there. I also had a go without any success.

In doing this I found that despite my best efforts I was unable to clear the small mounting holes of solder so that I could fit a socket. Menno had success in clearing the holes with a very small drill, but I didn't attempt this for fear of damaging the plated through holes and losing a vital connection to an intermediate layer in the PCB. My solution was to solder in some wires and have the socket 'up-in-the-air' whilst trying out the proof-of-concept. Anyway, like him, I had no joy.

A month later I was sent a link to an article that described how to use the SATA interface on an HP t5325. This included the helpful text:

"...according to the specs, SATA data lines should have a series capacitor somewhere. ... it makes sense for HP to leave them out if they're not going to solder the sata-ports in..."

SATA socket fitted to C7V7 Hindsight is wonderful! If you look at the first photograph you can see that TC1-4 and TC5-8 are missing from the board.

I forwarded the link to Menno and he soon had his VXL up-and-running with a SATA drive. I have no idea exactly what value the capacitors should be. The ones that Menno used were 10nF 25V as that is what he happened to have to hand. They work. The fitted socket and capacitors can be seen in the photograph (right).

USBSpace for USB

I subsequently received another email from Menno. He's spotted the clear space - labelled USB - on the board adjacent to the existing USB/LAN connector and had soldered in a double USB connector. With the addition of a zero Ohm resistor ("I soldered this resistor next to the other one on the PCB. You can't miss it. Just follow the usb data lines.") it all worked.

Space for USB You'll obviously need to modify your back panel as well to be able to get to the new sockets.

 


Any comments? email me.    Last update December 2012