Following a board meeting last week, VIA has come to the conclusion that it needs to cut capital to NT$5.17 billion ($153.4 million USD), a 60 percent reduction. A shareholder meeting on June 19th will decide when the reduced capital will take place. As a result of the planned reduction, VIA said it expects shares to improve to $NT11.36, or almost three times as much as the current NT$4.50 share price.
VIA didn't say what effect the reduced capital would have on its Nano processor roadmap, which could put the heat on Intel in coming months. Citing un-named market sources, news and rumor site DigiTimes notes that demand for Intel's Atom netbook CPUs has been slowing down lately in the wake of price cuts by low-end notebooks. The sources also attributed the reduced demand to consumer anticipation of the next generation of Atom processors, currently scheduled for the second half of this year.
Believe it or not, your terrifically fast Core i7 fresh off Intel's assembly line contains DNA that dates back over three decades. The same is true if you roll with AMD's latest silicon, the Phenom II X4. We're of course referring to the longstanding x86 microprocessor architecture that has dominated the desktop and mobile scene since before some of you were even born, and will probably be a mainstay still yet for many more years to come.
Invented by Intel in 1978, the x86 architecture has evolved through the ages, not only getting faster, but increasingly flexible as more and more extensions and instruction sets accompany each new release. It's been a wild ride the past 30 years, and whether you lived through it all or have only recently picked up your first processor, we invite you to join as we look back at not only the most popular x86 CPUs in its history, but ones you may never even have heard of.
Buckle up, sit back, and join us after the jump for a look back at the x86 timeline.
Citing the Commercial Times, Dow Jones reports Taiwan-based chip maker VIA Technologies will likely sell a stake to US-based graphics chip maker Nvidia through a private placement. Subject to shareholder approval, up to 300 million shares are up for grabs at between NT$9 and NT$12 ($0.27 to $0.35 USD).
Without an official comment from Nvidia, we can only speculate on what the GPU maker's motives might be, but there are two interesting things to note. First is the recent rift between Nvidia and Intel that has the two taking shots at each other. For Intel's part, the CPU maker has taken its disdain for Nvidia's Ion platform public. By cozying up to VIA, Nvidia could perhaps be looking to distance itself from Intel's Atom processor and declare all-out netbook warfare by implementing VIA's Nano processor into its Ion platform.
Secondly, Nvidia has indicated interest in building an x86 CPU. According to Michael Hara, Nvidia's senior VP of investor relations and communications, it's a matter of 'when' and not 'if.'
The VIA-developed Em-ITX form factor sees its first real world use today as the company showcases its new Em-ITX board with a VIA Nano processor at ESC Silicon Valley 2009. The company came up with the 12cm x 17cm Em-ITX specification for use in ultra-slim embedded devices, the first now being the EITX-3000.
"VIA has repeatedly pushed the thermal design envelope with innovative form factor specifications that allow ever more compact, slim, and versatile device designs," said Daniel Wu, VP, VIA Embedded, VIA Technologies, Inc. "The VIA EITX-3000 adds the performance-per-watt advantages of the VIA Nano processor to create a truly compelling embedded board for high-end digital media systems."
To make room for a passive cooling solution and keep the design fanless, the EITX-3000 combines VIA's Nano processor with the company's VX8000 media system processor on the reverse side of the board. VIA says it can be used in a wide range of temperature environments from -10C to 70C, and is an ideal choice for always-on applications like high-end POS, Kiosk, ATM, HMI, factory automation, POI, and digital signage.
The EITX-3000 comes configurable with either a 1.3GHz or 1.0GHz Nano ULV processor, dual gigabit networking, multi-configurable dual onboard LVDS and a VGA port, four onboard serial ports, and six USB ports,. It supports up to 2GB of DDR2 SO-DIMM memory. See here for a full list of specs.
VIA says samples of the EITX-3000 will be available to project customers in early May. No word yet on price.
Recently Via announced their VX855 Media System Processor that allows their Nano, C7 and Eden processors to support 1080p video. This entertains the possibility that Via will provide a more attractive option an Intel and Nvidia when it comes to platforms to base a netbook off of.
The VX855 is designed for mobile PCs and comes with an HD video processor that gives smooth, hardware accelerated playback of high definition videos encoded in H.264, MPEG2/4, DivX and WMV9.
“For the first time, system developers have an ultra low power media system processor that delivers high bit-rate HD video to small form factor and mobile devices,” said Via’s VP of Marketing, Richard Brown. “The VIA VX855 opens up exciting opportunities for several PC segments, particularly the mini-notebook category that will now be able to offer true 1080p HD video playback.”
No solid information as to when we can expect to see this powerful little chip make its way into netbooks and nettops alike, but if its as good as they say, we should see it making a splash relatively soon.
Nvidia showcased its bantam Ion platform during CES 2009. The Ion platform basically combines Intel’s Atom CPU with the GeForce 9400M GPU. Ion-toting netbooks are expected to be head and shoulders above today’s netbooks - that make a meal of even the simplest graphical tasks - in terms of graphics.
2008 will defiantly go down in technology history as the year of the netbook. Ultra portable PC’s defied the economy and helped push sales of notebooks beyond that of desktop’s for the first time in history. Netbooks have been thoroughly reviewed here at Maximum PC (see December 2008’s issue) and it’s clear from the both the comments, and the activity in the forums that those who are holding out are doing so primarily for one of two reasons.
1.) The form factor is too small. 2.) The machines are underpowered.
Though not much can be done to address the first complaint, the second will likely become a moot point in 2009. This is the year we will start to see dual core and graphics accelerated netbooks go main stream. With the Intel Atom 330 already launched, the stakes will be raised considerably with new offerings from both VIA and AMD. As disappointing as this must be for AMD, it appears as though the VIA offering will be the strongest Intel competitor, but this may change closer to launch. The VIA 3000 family will be an X86-compatible processor based on its existing Nano 1000, and 2000 series platform. What promises to give VIA the edge over AMD however, is compatibility with the SSE4 instruction set. This will give them a substantial performance boost in many processor intensive tasks.
To be fair, little is yet known about AMD’s offering and more details are likely to be released at CES next week. What we do know is that two new processors under the code names Caspain and Consesus have been added to the company’s roadmap. We also know that despite the fact that AMD claims it has little interest in netbooks, these chips are the closest competitor to the Atom we can find from the AMD camp. One thing is certain, by late 2009 or early 2010, netbook shoppers are going to have a lot more choices. And as we all know competition will go a long way towards helping to drive down prices.
What would it take to make you consider a netbook?
Intel may have the nettop and netbook markets cornered with its Atom processor, but that could quickly change if PC manufacturers become enamored with VIA's Nano processor, which has been shown to hold its own in benchmarking next to the much more popular Atom. Giving PC makers a nudge, VIA plans to launch its next-generation Nano 3000-series CPU in the third quarter of 2009, with engineering samples being made available in Q1 2009, according to DigiTimes. The new chip will be produced under Fujitsu's 65nm manufacturing process and will be the first Nano processor to support SSE4 instructions.
Also on tap is a dual-core Nano. A previous roadmap showed the two-cored chip going into production in June 2010, which could give Intel a significant headstart should the company decide to port its existing dual-core Atom 330 CPU over to netbooks instead of just nettops. But now it appears VIA will have engineering samples available in the second half of 2009, with mass production to begin by the end of 2009 or very early 2010.
It has not yet been decided whether the dual-core Nano will use Fujitsu's 45nm manufacturing process or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC's) 40nm process. But no matter which direction VIA takes its dual-core Nano part, the company could put itself in a favorable position if it doesn't run into any delays and makes its two-core chip available for use in netbooks, which have become increasingly powerful as of late.
VIA hopes its new three-pronged approach to the low cost computing market will be enough to grab some market share away from Intel, whose Atom-based systems have become synonymous with netbooks and nettops. VIA's calling its mini-ITX 2.0 form factor three-chip HD solution Trinity, which consists of the company's latest Nano x86-64 processor, VX800 IGP chipset, and discrete S3 Chrome graphics.
With the three technologies combined, VIA can boast an 800MHz frontside bus, DirectX 10.1 support, HD video, Blu-ray/H.264/MP4 hardware acceleration, HDMI output, and more, all while consuming less than 70 watts max, with 50 watts being typical, VIA claims.
Should VIA's Trinity solution catch on, Intel could be in for a slug fest in the low power computing market. Previous tests have shown VIA's Nano processor holding its own against Intel's Atom chip, and VIA's platform reportedly runs cooler. On the flip side, Nvidia has recently announced plans to jump into the netbook sector by pairing its 9400M chipset with Intel's Atom processor.
VIA has announced the ARTiGo A2000 barebones storage mini-server, a tiny box with a small price tag. The compact mini-server offers a high capacity, low power power storage system while also claiming to keep noise levels below 26.8 dB.
1.6GHz VIA C7-D processor
VIA VX8000 Unified Digital Media IGP chipset
1 x DDR2 SO-DIMM Socket (up to 2GB)
2 x 3.5" SATA II
1 x CF socket
3 x USB 2.0 ports (1 on front panel)
Other specs include a LAN port, audio ports, wireless LAN support, built-in HD audio, and support for Windows XP/Vista, and Linux. But perhaps the ARTiGo A2000's biggest appeal is it's small stature. The mini-server is designed using a custom Nano-ITX form factor and up to 3TB of data can be crammed into a chassis no higher than a CD and only 10.2 inches long.
Included software gives uses the ability to create up to 10 encrypted virtual drives, with the encryption being "performed with virtually no CPU load."
Several e-tailers have begun offering the device on pre-order for $299, and depending on where you order it from, could ship as early as this month.