ECS has quietly published brief specifications of its new miniature LIVA Z personal computer, which indicates that the system is set to hit the market in the coming weeks or months. The new small form-factor PC is based on Intel’s Apollo Lake system-on-chip and thus features improved general purpose performance, graphics, and multimedia playback.

The ECS LIVA Z comes in a small 117×128×33 black enclosure, which is a bit larger than the Apple TV STB and about the same size as Intel’s entry-level NUCs. While the LIVA Z has rather advanced media playback capabilities and has both HDMI and mDP outputs (as well as a TRRS connector for analog audio), ECS positions its new SFF system not as a media-centric PC, but rather as an affordable miniature computer. This is a reason why the LIVA Z does not come with a remote control or even an IR receiver, but has two GbE ports in addition to 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. For peripherals, the system has three USB 3.0 Type-A ports as well as a USB 3.0 Type-C port.

The heart of the ECS LIVA Z is an Apollo Lake SoC, which brand and model numbers the manufacturer does not disclose, but FanlessTech claims that the chip is a desktop part with 10 W TDP. Anyway, we do know that Intel’s Apollo Lake chips feature up to four x86 cores based on the latest low-power Goldmont microarchitecture, a new graphics core that features Intel’s ninth-generation architecture (Gen9) with 12 or 18 EUs as well as a new multimedia playback engine that supports hardware-accelerated playback of 4K video from hardware decoding of HEVC and VP9 codecs. The architectural and multimedia-related enhancements of the Apollo Lake SoCs make the LIVA Z quite good for light multimedia and video playback workloads.

Comparison of Intel's Entry-Level PC Platforms
  Bay Trail-M/D Braswell Apollo Lake
CPU Microarchitecture Silvermont Airmont Goldmont
Core Count Up to 4
Graphics Architecture Gen 7 Gen8 Gen9
EU Count unknown 12 or 16 12 or 18
Process Technology 22 nm 14 nm 14 nm
Launch Q1 2014 Q1 2015 Q3 2016

So far, ECS has published only brief specs of the LIVA Z on its website, but we understand that the system will exist in different configurations, (possibly different regions will get different variants). The SFF PC will feature up to 8 GB of DDR3L memory (up to two SO-DIMMs), a pre-installed eMMC 32 GB/64 module as well as an M.2-2242 slot for SATA SSDs. There is no place for 2.5” HDDs/SSDs inside the LIVA Z, hence the system supports only solid-state M.2 storage devices. Currently the maximum capacity of available M.2-2242 SATA SSDs is 512 GB (albeit, they are rare), which means that people with vast multimedia libraries will have to use external storage.

Brief Specifications of ECS LIVA Z
  LIVA Z
32 GB
LIVA Z
64 GB
CPU Intel Apollo Lake SoC with 10 W TDP
PCH integrated
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 500 (12 EUs) or Intel HD Graphics 505 (18 EUs) (Gen9)
Memory Two SO-DIMM slots, up to 8 GB of DDR3L
Storage eMCC 32 GB 64 GB
M.2 Up to 512 GB in M.2-2242 form-factor
Wi-Fi Intel 802.11ac + BT 4.0
Ethernet Two Gigabit Ethernet with RJ45 connector
(Realtek RTL8111H)
Display Outputs 1 × HDMI
1 × mDP 1.2
Audio 3.5 mm audio in and audio out (Realtek ALC283)
USB 3 × USB 3.0 Type-A (5 Gbps)
1 × USB 3.0 Type-C (5 Gbps)
Dimensions 117 mm × 128 mm × 33 mm
PSU External
VESA Mounts 75 mm/100 mm, one bracket included
OS Linux-based OS in UEFI mode
Microsoft Windows 10

At present ECS does not disclose pricing of its LIVA Z nettops and does not reveal when and where the PCs are set to be available. Prices will naturally depend on exact SoC, RAM, eMMC configuration as well as on the version of Windows included (or the lack of any OS). Some of the previous-gen ECS LIVA systems started at $170 and $180, so expect the new versions to be in the same range.

Many thanks to FanlessTech for the original source.

Related Reading:

Source: ECS

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  • evanrich - Thursday, November 17, 2016 - link

    802.3ad LACP port bonding...smart ass Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    Why is the M.2 slot limited to 512GB? Is that because there aren't any 1GB drives in the 2242 size, or because they dropped in some sort of UEFI restriction? Reply
  • Arnulf - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    The former. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    That's not so bad then. Presumably some time in the future we'll get higher capacity 2242 drives. I wonder why they bothered listing a limitation? Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    It's nice to see Linux support confirmed from ECS right away. Less consideration for adding additional storage, the 32GB model seems more of a candidate for Linux than Windows given its smaller footprint on storage. Reply
  • Xajel - Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - link

    Cool, Just add external 4 bay enclosure and you you got a semi DIY NAS, these two gigabit ethernet better support teaming...

    Sadly I don't think the CPU is good enough to serve also as Plex server..
    Reply
  • Meteor2 - Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - link

    If Plex makes use of the hardware encode/decode it would. Anyone know if Plex does? Reply
  • evanrich - Thursday, November 17, 2016 - link

    dont think it does Reply
  • Namisecond - Saturday, November 19, 2016 - link

    If Plex (or any other software that wants specific hardware) use is critical to what you want to do, don't get something it doesn't support at the time you purchase. Reply
  • dealcorn - Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - link

    I think the selection of the M.2-2242 SSD interface is a marketing boo boo. They should have selected M.2-2280 instead for immediate access to 1 TB SSD's. Given he anticipated ramp of 3d NAND fabs, high capacity SSD prices should fall during this product's lifespan. Given the NUC like size, it is hard to imagine why they could not come up with the extra 38mm. Reply

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