The XO-1.75 will sport a processor based on the ARM architecture unlike its predecessor that features an x86 processor from VIA. This shift necessitates software changes as the current version of OLPC's favorite Linux distribution, Fedora, is still missing an ARM port. Chris Ball, lead software engineer for OLPC, said in an e-mail statement that future OLPC machines will continue to use Fedora as their main Linux distribution.
"We need to rebuild each of the thousands of Fedora packages for Arm from their Fedora 13 versions, so that includes everything from the kernel and drivers up through all of the other packages, including Sugar,” Ball said.
How should we classify VIA’s ARTiGO A1100? It’s technically not a portable, since it lacks a display and input devices (e.g. a keyboard and trackpad); but the desktop label doesn’t really fit, either: You could stash 50 of these things inside the Lian Li mid-tower case of the PC we used to write this piece. We’ve seen the term “nettop” floating around, so we’ll use that.
The ARTiGO A1100 is a do-it-yourself PC kit not much larger than a couple decks of cards. It comes with almost everything it needs to handle common computer tasks, except memory and storage, which the user/builder is expected to provide. The Pico-ITX motherboard hosts VIA’s media-friendly 1.2GHz Nano 64-bit CPU and VX855 chipset, which provide gigabit Ethernet; internal SATA; four USB 2.0 host ports; an integrated VIA Chrome9 AGP graphics chip that accelerates MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264, and other popular codecs; HDMI and VGA ports; and more.
VIA has made a living by cramming big features onto small packages, and that's certainly the case with the company's new EITX-3001. Built around the Em-ITX form factor, VIA's fanless next-gen device measures just 17cm (W) x 12cm (L) and sports a trumped up feature set.
"With the VIA EITX-3001 we're offering a full-featured board that is the ideal starting point for much slimmer, fanless and rugged devices," said Daniel Wu, Vice President, VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. "The VIA EITX-3001 combines versatility with ruthless stability at extreme temperatures in a form factor that is ideal for space constrained industrial and commercial environments."
The tiny board sports the latest VIA Nano E-Series processor clocked at 1.3GHz and pairs it with the company's VX855 media system processor. Between the two, the EITX-3001 is able to handle 1080p HD video. It also comes with integrated Chrome9 HCM graphics, five USB 2.0 host ports, Gigabit networking, support for 5-wire/4-wire resistive touch interface connectors, and HDMI.
We've been hearing about a dual-core Nano processor for some time now, and VIA has finally gone and built one. Currently in prototype form, VIA has been busy showing off its newest x86 part at this year's Computex show.
The new dual-core part was shown chugging along at 1.6GHz per core. According to C.J. Holthaus, a member of VIA's Centaur processor design team, it was manufactured on a 65nm process and is nearly ready for release.
"It'll be a product in about six months. This is mainly a technology demonstration," Holthaus said.
A 65nm manufacturing process isn't all that impressive at this stage in the processor game, and the final version will be built using something different. Holthaus declined to give specifics, saying only that it would use a "next-generation" technology.
This is good timing on VIA's part. Intel just recently laid out its future Atom processor strategy, which will also consist of dual-core parts and be aimed at the tablet and ultra-thin netbook space.
With all the attention surrounding AMD and Intel, it's easy to forget that VIA is also a player in the x86 processor platform market. Despite this, the company is off to a relatively strong start in 2010, as evidenced by VIA's January-May sales results.
VIA announced net sales of about $13.07 million for the month of May, a pittance compared to the numbers Intel puts up on a regular basis, and nearly a 4 percent month-on-month decrease for VIA over revenue numbers posted in April ($13.62 million). But compared to this same time last year, VIA's numbers are up 9.55 percent, and 3.9 percent for January-May.
Depending on how VIA plays its cards, the company could finish off the year with a bang and head into 2011 with a bit of momentum. It all hinges on how aggressively VIA attacks the tablet market, and so far, the company looks to be on the right track. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Richard Brown, VIA's vice president of marketing, said he expects about five different low-cost tablets to emerge in the second half of 2010, each one sporting a VIA chip inside. Brown says these tablets will sell for between $100 and $150.
If you're in the market for a low-cost tablet, hang tight, because several affordable models are on the way, says VIA's Richard Brown, vice president of marketing at VIA. In an interview with Bloomberg, Brown said he expects about five different models ranging in price from $100 to $150 to be available in the second half of 2010, all of which will sport a VIA processor inside.
All five models will be built around Google's open-source Android platform, which will play a big role in keeping the overall cost to a minimum.
"The tablet market has been legitimized by Apple," Brown said. "Android is bringing a lot of diversity to the market. There are different sizes and different looks and feels."
Taking down Apple will be no easy task, however, as the Cupertino company has already sold over a million iPads during their first month on sale and just recently launched to an international market. How the upcoming VIA-powered tablets compare remains to be seen, though Brown did say VIA is offering an ARM-based processor the for the new tablets.
AMD and Nvidia typically hog the limelight in the graphics arena, but lest we forget, a company called S3 is still churning out GPUs. On Friday, S3 unveiled the latest addition to its Chrome Series graphics line, the Chrome 5000E-based eH1 designed for harsh environments and industrial grade systems.
"S3 Graphics continues to introduce new graphics technologies to the embedded market, adding a fanless, ultra low power, and feature-rich product to our growing portfolio of embedded solutions," said Dr. Ken Weng, GM for S3 Graphics. "Our new Chrome eH1 card makes PC grade product features accessible to the broader embedded arena, allowing our embedded partners to easily incorporate the very latest multimedia technologies in their product offerings."
Those multimedia technologies Weng speaks of include DirectX 10.1, OpenGL 3.1, Open GL ES 2.0, OpenVG 1.1 (2D vector graphics), and HD video decoding courtesy of S3's ChromotionHD 2.0 video processor unit (VPU). The card also features DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, and VGA ports.
VIA says its new ARTiGO A1100 DIY PC kit is "for enthusiasts who want to taste the most extreme, ultra-compact desktop computing experience," and they might be right. The ARTiGO isn't too much bigger than a smartphone, yet there's a full fledged PC inside, albeit nothing to replace your high-end desktop.
Tear the thing open and you'll find a 1.2GHz VIA Nano processor. You'll also find five USB ports, HD video support, HDMI and VGA display connectivity, Gigabit networking, Wi-Fi support, and three audio jacks, all stuffed in and around a chassis small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. More specifically, the entire thing measures just 5.7 inches x 3.9 inches x 2 inches.
"The VIA ARTiGO A1100 redefines compact computing, bringing all the features of a regular desktop PC in a form factor that needs to be seen to be believed," said Daniel Wu, Vice President, VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. "By harnessing our expertise in creating leading edge form factor systems, we're offering consumers something that absolutely breaks the mold."
All that's left is to add your own memory, hard drive, wireless module, SD card reader, and OS. If you can get VIA's store to load (we had a bit of trouble earlier today), you can pick one up today for $243, or $199 if you're one of the first 10 customers.
How's that netbook working out for online 1080p HD content? Probably not so well, which gives VIA reason to tout its new VX900 chipset. According to VIA, this full featured single chip solution takes the jitters out of HD videos when coupled with the latest VIA Nano-3000 series processors.
"VIA's trail-blazing VX900 will bring welcome relief to those pining for the best view of HD video online," said Richard Brown, Vice President of Marketing, VIA Technologies. "The VIA VX900 represents the most complete solution for HD digital content consumption on the market today."
At the heart of the VX900 is VIA's ChromotionHD 2.0 video engine, which features hardware acceleration for H.264. VIA promises smooth playback of 1080p video "without incurring a heavy CPU load."
Other features include support for DDR3 memory up to 1066MHz, a Chrome9 HCM 3D integrated graphics core, DX 9.0 support, and a 128-bit 2D engine with hardware rotation capability.
VIA this week was spotted at the Las Vegas Convention Center showing off its upcoming S3 Graphics Chrome 5400E x2, a dual-GPU add-in board "aimed at advanced, multi-display digital signage applications."
The 5400E x2 comes ready to support up to 8 simultaneous displays with up to 4 independent video streams at resolutions of up to 1080p. A wide variety of display modes are supported, including Span, Extended, and Clone view configurations. Other marketing bullets include H.264, VC-1, and WMV-HD hardware acceleration, and built-in Genlock support for synchronized source timing.
"VIA is delighted to work with S3 Graphics to bring unique digital signage embedded products to market, highlighting our prowess in delivering the very best in power-efficient, hi-def digital display technologies," said Daniel Wu, VP, VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies.
VIA says it will have samples of the Chrome 5400E x2 available to ODM customers starting in Q2 2010.