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AMD's David Schwarzbach holding a DTX PCB panel
AMD works on new small form factor standard

AMD today announced the company is developing a new small form factor standard. The new form factor, dubbed DTX, is AMD’s attempt to unify the various proprietary small form factors currently in use. DTX will be an open industry standard available to all case, motherboard and system manufacturers, but will not be limited to AMD-based products.

There will be two DTX standards available -- DTX and mini-DTX. The current DTX specification will only define a few requirements, the primary of which are motherboard mounting points and keep-out areas. Alternative specifications, like Micro-BTX, have strict guidelines for everything from airflow regulation to legacy I/O definitions.

AMD claims the consumer market needs a small form factor standard for the following reasons:
  • Electricity cost savings
  • Take up less space for both practical and aesthetic purposes
  • Enables systems that are quiet
  • Do not generate excessive heat
The enterprise clients need a small form factor for the following reasons:
  • Lower energy bills to help reduce operating costs
  • Enables differentiated and competitive solutions
  • Smaller, sleeker form factors take up less space in offices and cubicles and are designed to operate quietly
DTX falls between the current Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX standards. DTX motherboards will measure in at 200mm by 244mm compared to the 170mm by 170mm footprint of Mini-ITX motherboards. MicroATX motherboards measure 244mm by 244mm.

Mini-DTX will initially target sub-6 liter enclosures and support processors with TDPs up to 35 watts. The footprint of Mini-DTX motherboards will be 200mm x 170mm -- just a tad wider than Mini-ITX motherboards.

While there are already plenty of other standards on the market such as ATX, Mini-ITX and BTX, AMD’s goal with DTX is greater flexibility and lower costs. Greater flexibility is achieved by making DTX motherboards backwards-compatible with ATX and Micro-ATX.  Lower costs will be addressed with DTX due to the clever sizing of DTX motherboards. Most manufacturers are able to produce two standard ATX motherboard PCBs per PCB panel, a manufacturer can now cut four DTX or six Mini-DTX motherboards from the same panel.

There will be room for two expansion slots on DTX motherboards. No constraints have been set for the expansion slot configuration, which leaves manufacturers to decide which slots are needed. An ExpressCard expansion slot is also planned for the DTX form factor.

Expect AMD to release the final DTX specification later this quarter. It is unknown when or if manufacturers will produce systems and components based around the DTX standard, but several motherboard and enclosure manufacturers have already announced DTX products will appear in their 2007 roadmaps.

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By Furen on 1/10/2007 5:57:41 AM , Rating: 5
Anyone else like that case? I wouldn't mind having one of those...

I particularly like how the spec allows for one or two expansion cards... a decent half-height video card and any low-power CPU and you have a pretty good gaming system. And, if you don't need the gaming part (like me, though for some reason I always end up buying pretty good video cards to play a game one or twice a week) then a wireless lan card or something like that could work for you.

RE: Nice...
By piesquared on 1/10/2007 6:01:20 AM , Rating: 4
I agree. This has huge potential.

RE: Nice...
By Furen on 1/10/2007 6:15:16 AM , Rating: 2
I've always been fascinated by VIA's mini-ITX though the damn price point has always put me off. $300+ for a chip that performs worse than a 5 year old K7 and uses a motherboard that lacks all the newer technologies is highway robbery. Because this form factor would, in theory, use off-the-shelf parts, prices should be much more down-to-earth.

Of course, AMD has an advantage over Intel with this form factor since its chips can, in theory, work with a single-chip chipset (though I have yet to see an IGP single-chip solution).

RE: Nice...
By Aikouka on 1/10/2007 8:38:08 AM , Rating: 3
Just as a note, you can buy mini-ITX boards that use Intel and AMD processors. Albeit, they aren't fanless like some of the Via C3 processors are, but they do exist! :) (my favorite source for itty-bitty computing) has them.

RE: Nice...
By masher2 on 1/10/2007 10:32:15 AM , Rating: 1
Those Mini-ITX motherboards also tend to have many things you simply can't find on a standard mobo...things like LVDS and video outputs, RS-485 ports, and DC-DC converters to allow them to run directly from a 12V supply.

I have two of them built into the walls of my house, running the security and home automation systems.

RE: Nice...
By Frank M on 1/10/2007 10:47:11 AM , Rating: 2
No fucking way, really? Did you set it up?

RE: Nice...
By masher2 on 1/10/2007 11:37:11 AM , Rating: 1
Yes I did...I've got plans to add even more functionality to the system, but finding time to work on it seems to elude me :/

RE: Nice...
By noxipoo on 1/10/2007 12:40:54 PM , Rating: 2
stop posting here for more time.

RE: Nice...
By hubajube on 1/10/2007 1:20:17 PM , Rating: 2
I have two of them built into the walls of my house, running the security and home automation systems.
That's pretty kick ass dude. Nice!

RE: Nice...
By scrapsma54 on 1/10/2007 5:18:50 PM , Rating: 2
Is the mobo a working version? I know that come of the ic arent there. If so I really like the simple look without all the resistors. I guess since 4 of these can be made from only one pcb, I can finally get a performance mobo at an affordable price.

RE: Nice...
By scrapsma54 on 1/10/07, Rating: -1
RE: Nice...
By cochy on 1/10/2007 9:02:01 PM , Rating: 2
That comment is pretty funny. I don't know if it would be funnier if it was a purposeful joke or if he has no clue what he's talking about.

RE: Nice...
By scrapsma54 on 1/11/07, Rating: 0
RE: Nice...
By JeffDM on 1/12/2007 12:19:46 PM , Rating: 2
Integrated audio uses valuable system memory? How much does it use? That board there has two memory slots, so it should be easy and cheap enough to stuff 2GB into that system. I'm just not seeing why it would be a major penalty that it's worth paying money just to reduce a little bit of memory overhead.

RE: Nice...
By Orville on 1/10/2007 9:11:34 AM , Rating: 3

Thank you so much for this article announcing a very much anticipated, and in my unworldly opinion, very much needed new standard for the PC desktop market segment. To be brief, I don’t give a damn about enterprise clients, a DTX mobo standard, or my light bill. And I don’t relish HP and Dell made consumer PCs. I am, however, very interested in a bare bones consumer PC that is based on some mobo standard, like mini-DTX. I guess Intel has dropped the ball here with all their layoffs. I also am very interested in 35 watt CPUs, but I can’t buy an AMD one. A lower light bill would come free with a 35 watt CPU, won’t it? Move aside Shuttle and let the big boys like ASUS in. Of course it would mean that AMD would have to sell retail 35 watt CPUs, wouldn’t it? Right now these just go to HP and Dell. That sucks! But, this attempt at a new desktop mobo standard shows that some folks at AMD have their heads on straight. I noticed that the only semi companies with trademarks in the photos were AMD and TI. What does that mean?

RE: Nice...
By sprockkets on 1/10/2007 11:31:22 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah, kinda like what we need, except without the crap of reversing the layout like with BTX causing everyone to invest and now lose all that money for nothing since Intel like dropped it.

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