A little over two months ago NVIDIA and Zotac unveiled the world's first mini-ITX motherboard based on the Ion platform, err chipset. NVIDIA's Ion, as you may remember is a rebranded NVIDIA's GeForce 9300 chipset with integrated graphics, currently run alongside Intel's Atom processor.Zotac's Ion is a mini-ITX motherboard based on Intel's Atom + NVIDIA's Ion and fared rather well in our initial review.

From left to right (ATX, micro-ATX and Zotac's mini-ITX Ion)

As a bedroom HTPC or even something technically powerful enough to run a real home theater, Zotac had a winner with its Ion - there was just one problem: wake-on-USB didn't work. If Zotac's Ion went to sleep, moving your mouse, hitting a key on your keyboard or pressing a button on your media center remote wouldn't wake it back up.

The initial revision of the motherboard powered the USB ports through the 5V rail off of the power supply. When the motherboard enters S3 sleep (Suspend to RAM), 5V power is shut off and thus the USB ports can't respond to any activity.

Zotac has since redesigned the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) and connected standby power to the USB ports. Now when the motherboard enters S3, the USB ports still have power and can wake the system up if there's any activity on a USB device.

NVIDIA sent me an updated Zotac motherboard, "easily" identified by markings on the back of the motherboard:

The part number of the old motherboard

The part number of the new motherboard, take note of the last four characters: J10F, the 1 indicates wake on USB works.

My original Zotac board wouldn't wake up if I had my Logitech G5 USB mouse or my Dell USB keyboard connected to any of the USB ports. The new one springs to life like a good little HTPC motherboard. The good news? The problem is fixed. The bad news? As far as I can tell there's no way to tell you have a new motherboard without first opening the box.

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  • Mr Perfect - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Can you see about getting more mITX boards in the future? Asus and Gigabyte are busy making "small" uATX boards, and everyone else seems to be sticking with full ATX.
  • CSMR - Wednesday, July 29, 2009 - link

    I'm sure you'll see lots more mini-itx with the next generation (Intel moving to 32nm, integrating graphics and CPU). Check SPCR for some more good reviews of the current generation.

    I'd guess the market will split like this:

    ITX: mainstream, integrated CPU-GPU; low-end, atoms
    Micro-ATX: gamers & graphics professionals with discrete gpu, specialist systems needing full PCI/PCI express cards
    ATX: extreme gamers with dual gpu

    Subject to some inertia.
  • icrf - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Did the non-Atom Zotac mini-ITX boards have the same wake on USB problem? I think I'd rather play it safe and have a ULV C2D in there.
  • xcanner - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Correct the first version of Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX Wifi, did not support wake on usb.

    However the third version of the motherboard supports it.

    Quote from another forum:
    Dear Customer

    The GF9300 latest PCB version (03), with support for USB WakeUp (S3) and Dual Link DVI, is not yet shipped out. Therefore all the boards on the market are not yet containing these new hardware features.

    It is also true that the BIOS for the GF9300 move slightly ahead of the hardware, such that the existing BIOS (2K090602) is already added with the codes for "Dual Link DVI". We do tested this BIOS (put to the older PCB which do not support Dual Link), but not found any issue so far.

    The problem described here sounds new to me. I will check factory if there is such issue in this combination (new BIOS with Dual Link DVI support + old hardware without Dual Link DVI support).

    Will come back to you on this

    Kindest regards,

    And another quote:
    The bottom side of motherboard PCB
    shows “236-DA105-xx00F”
    Motherboard PCB Version:00

    The bottom side of motherboard PCB
    shows “236-DA105-xx10F”
    Motherboard PCB Version:01

    The bottom side of motherboard PCB
    shows “236-DA105-xx30F”
    Motherboard PCB Version:03

    End quote.

    Currently i am waiting for the version coming to Denmark, then i will buy it.

    I migth be getting the Zotac ION board for a HTPC to the bedroom, but as you i rather have a a C2D in the main HTPC (ION does not deliver the power).
  • sprockkets - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    What is the date of that post?
  • Gentleman - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I am wondering the same thing. If not, are they release one?
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    I believe they did have the same problem, I do not know if there's a fix for those in the works. Lemme see if I can find out :)

    Take care,
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Ask and you shall receive :)

    Zotac is working on a revision to its 9300-ITX motherboard (non-Atom) and should have it fixed sometime in the future. I'll keep you guys posted.

    Take care,
  • icrf - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Thanks for looking into it. The lack of HD flash video support on the Atom has made me rethink how great one of these boards would be for an HTPC. There's a ton of free streaming HD content out there.
  • Zok - Monday, July 27, 2009 - link

    Correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn't it be possible to workaround the issue on the old revision by using a powered USB hub? Just in case you get an old board I suppose...

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