Datasheet Directories

Mini-ITX and Pico-ITX SBCs

Written by Jeff Child

Performance Platforms

Based on the small-sized versions of the ITX motherboard form factor, Mini-ITX and Pico-ITX keep growing in popularity and in embedded market share. These SBCs provide system developers with complete PC-functionality and advanced graphics.

There was a time when large slot-card based form factors were the only choices for embedded systems. Those days are gone, now that a complete computing solution can be designed into a small form factor embedded motherboard. Among these so-called bus-less embedded form factors are the various versions of the ITX. They offer a more complete SBC approach, integrating most or all of the typical desktop PC kinds of functions. Applications where graphics are a priority are particularly suited to these types of board-level products.

While the ITX form factor is based on the ATX PC motherboard standard, what’s more popular in recent years are its spinoffs Mini-ITX and Pico-ITX. Mini-ITX is a 170 mm × 170 mm (or 6.7″ x 6.7″) low-power motherboard form factor developed by VIA Technologies in 2001. They are commonly used in small form factor computer systems. A more recent variant is the Thin Mini ITX, a version of Mini-ITX that is only 22mm in height, with a thinner port cluster and horizontally stacked SO-DIMM memory slots. Meanwhile, Pico ITX is a PC motherboard form factor released by VIA Technologies in January 2007. The form factor was transferred over to SFF-SIG in 2008. The Pico-ITX form factor specifications call for the board to be 100mm × 72mm (3.9″ × 2.8”), 75% smaller than the Mini-ITX form factor.

Pico-ITX technology was embraced by at least one of the teams in Audi’s 2017 annual Audi Autonomous Driving Cup (AADC), a competition for engineering students Participants develop fully automatic driving capabilities and the necessary software architectures. These are then put to the test in 1/8th-scale model cars. Specifically built for the competition by Audi, these serve as hardware platforms (Figure 1). The team named “FASzination – Autonom” from Hochschule Kempten, which was supported by Kontron, built their model car with 10 ultrasound sensors and 2D/3D cameras (RGB and deep image). A wheel speed sensor and six axis motion sensors for angular velocity and acceleration submit their data to the model car’s control unit. For that control unit, the team chose Kontron’s Pico-ITX pITX-E3845 SBC with 4-core 1.9 GHz Atom, 8GB RAM and 60GB SSD. 

FIGURE 1
Pico-ITX technology was embraced by at least one of the teams in Audi’s 2017 annual Audi Autonomous Driving Cup (AADC). Participants develop fully automatic driving capabilities and the necessary software architectures. These are then put to the test in 1/8th-scale model cars. (Source: Audi).

Add your product to this directory


Keep up-to-date with our FREE Weekly Newsletter!

Don't miss out on upcoming issues of Circuit Cellar.


Note: We’ve made the May 2020 issue of Circuit Cellar available as a free sample issue. In it, you’ll find a rich variety of the kinds of articles and information that exemplify a typical issue of the current magazine.

Would you like to write for Circuit Cellar? We are always accepting articles/posts from the technical community. Get in touch with us and let's discuss your ideas.
Editor-in-Chief at Circuit Cellar | Website | + posts

Jeff Child has more than 28 years of experience in the technology magazine business—including editing and writing technical content, and engaging in all aspects of magazine leadership and production. He joined the Circuit Cellar after serving as Editor-in-Chief of COTS Journal for over 10 years. Over his career Jeff held senior editorial positions at several of leading electronic engineering publications, including EE Times and Electronic Design and RTC Magazine. Before entering the world of technology journalism, Jeff worked as a design engineer in the data acquisition market.

Supporting Companies

Upcoming Events


Copyright © KCK Media Corp.
All Rights Reserved

Copyright © 2021 KCK Media Corp.

Mini-ITX and Pico-ITX SBCs

by Jeff Child time to read: 2 min