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.
According to VIA's recently revealed processor roadmap, the company will begin mass producing dual-core Nano CPUs in June of 2010. The late entry would appear to give Intel a significant head start, as the chip maker has already launched its dual-core Atom 330 CPU. But unlike Intel's chip, VIA's dual-core Nano will zero in on both netbooks (notebooks) and nettops (desktops) instead of strictly nettops.
However, Intel might still beat VIA to the punch with Pineview, the company's dual-core Atom part with an integrated graphics solution. That is, if Intel makes the new chip available for netbooks. If not, Intel would be leaving the door open for VIA to step in as the only one to offer a dual-core solution for the uber popular netbook sector. Moreover, despite Nano's lack of penetration thus far, benchmarks typically show the chip outpacing Intel's Atom, albeit while also consuming more power.
Meanwhile, it seems nobody knows exactly what AMD has planned. The chip maker previously announced it was skipping the netbook market, but at the same time would target mini-notebooks. Should the markets overlap, or if AMD has a competitive change of heart, it could make for an interesting three-way battle royal.
S3 Graphics, a subsidiary of VIA and a player in the low end graphics market, has launched its next generation Chrome 500 series. S3 claims its new add-in cards offer up to a 30 percent performance increase while supporting Blu-ray playback, streaming HD video, DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 3.0 on both Windows and Linux operating systems.
"S3 Graphics has built upon the success of the Chrome 400 Series with another GPU line that fulfills user demand of a superior visual experience and product that extends beyond just graphics," said Dr. Ken Weng, GM for S3 Graphics. "Our latest Chrome 500 supports features that surpass those found in higher end products, like high quality HD video support. This truly is a power-efficient multimedia / multi-application processor that delivers."
S3's Chrome 530 GT is the first videocad to market from the new Chrome 500 series. The upgraded GPU makes a strong bid for HTPC enthusiasts with support for PiP Blu-ray playback, HDCP capable DVI-I and HDMI ports, and a low power draw rated at just 25W.
The Chrome 530 GT is available now direct from S3 Graphics for $45 and comes bundled with InterVideo WinDVD 8.
VIA, a one-time major player in the enthusiast motherboard chipset market and a current producer of low power processors (VIA Nano), has largely been overshadowed by bigger players in nearly every sector it competes in. So while VIA might be having trouble finding some love in the PC market, the company hopes it can fare better in less traditional areas with its new VIPRO VP7710 fanless touch-screen panel PC.
"Amid growing public acceptance of intuitive touch screen technologies, the VIA VIPRO addresses an increasing demand for cost effective, intelligent displays in commercial applications such as ticketing, ATM, vending and information kiosks as well as sophisticated fleet deployment infrastructures in transport, delivery and logistics enterprise," VIA states in a press release.
VIA opted for heavy steel and aluminum to construct the VIPRO's chassis, which serves to protect the 10.4-inch TFT display from shock, vibration, and other potential calamities. The touch screen also resists both water and dust, making it ideally suited for outside use.
From a hardware standpoint, the VIPRO comes with either a 1.6GHz VIA Eden or 1.0GHz C7 processor, up to 1GB of DDR2 memory, support for both IDE and SATA 2.5-inch hard drives, and integrated VIA UniChrome Pro II graphics. Additionally, a second display can be added via a VGA port.
Hit the jump to see a YouTube video of the VP7710 in action.
At times it is easy to forget that Intel Atom is not the only power-efficient processor aimed at the netbook segment. Incase you had forgotten, Via is also vying for the same market segment. Only a couple of weeks after Via received a big order for Nano processors from HP, it has announced that leading Chinese PC OEM Tsinghua Tongfang is going to deploy the VIA C7-M processor in its S1 mini-notebook.
The S1 features a 1.6 GHz VIA C7-M processor, 1GB memory and an 80GB hard disk drive. With its weight of 1.2kg, the S1 is certainly a little bulky for its stripe. It has a rather convenient 10.2” screen and runs Windows Vista Home Basic – quite audacious to even attempt Vista on a netbook. Its Chinese price translates to $583. With Intel struggling to meet the staggering demand for Atom, the door is ajar for Via.
Forget about daytime television, the real drama takes place in the tech industry. Intel and Nvidia's relationship can be described as rocky at best, and now the GPU maker has said it will make "a significant investment in optimizing software" for VIA's Nano processor. VIA's low power chip has already been spotted outperforming Intel's Atom CPU, making this latest announcement all the more interesting for anyone paying attention to the ultraportable market.
The announcement also puts to rest an earlier rumor alleging Nvidia of using its relationship with VIA as a bargaining chip with Intel. Recent speculation suggested Nvidia's motive all along was to convince Intel to let its Atom processor support Nvidia's MCP73 IGP chipset, and in return, the GPU maker would terminate its alliance with VIA.
With the ultraportable market seemingly exploding as of late, should Intel be worried about a more solidfied relationship between Nvidia and VIA?
CustomPC reports that VIA is calling it quits in the motherboard chipset business, and will focus on making x86 processors.
They quote VIA’s vice president of corporate marketing in Taiwan, Richard Brown, as saying, “One of the main reasons we originally moved into the x86 processor business was because we believed that ultimately the third party chipset market would disappear, and we would need to have the capability to provide a complete platform.” He adds, ‘That has indeed come to pass,’ and said, ‘Intel provides the vast majority of chipsets for its processors and, following its purchase of ATI, AMD is also moving very quickly in the same direction.’
This comes after Nvidia said that they were not offering a native chipset for Bloomfield (now Core i7) processors, and SLI would be available in the form of the nForce 200 chip, similar to the Skulltrail implementation with the nForce 100.
VIA was always popular with the enthusiast on a budget crowd, which shot up with their Apollo P4X266 chipset. The P4X266 brought DDR memory support to the Pentium 4 and went ahead without a license from Intel to do so.
This seems to highlight a trend that the industry no longer needs third party chipset manufacturers, with AMD now offering it’s own chipsets for it’s own CPUs, just as Intel has done for a long time. It would seem logical that CPU manufacturers would be in the best position to offer chipsets that would squeeze the most out of their respective CPUs, but without a multitude of third party manufacturers, I can’t help but wonder who will keep them honest in doing so, and not allow the field to stagnate.
Much has been made over Intel's Atom processor, the 45nm wonder-chip finding its way into more netbooks than production can seemingly keep up with. But lest the world forget, VIA also has a low power chip of its own, one the company claims delivers "truly optimized performance for the most demanding computing, entertainment, and connectivity applications."
VIA's 65nm Nano processor saw an official launch a full two months ago, but it's Intel's Atom that keeps getting the attention. Is it justified? A pair of review sites looked to answer that question by pitting an Intel Atom 230 (1.6GHz) against a VIA Nano L2100 (1.8GHz), and both sites came to the same conclusion: VIA's Nano is the faster processor.
Clocked 12.5 percent faster the Atom chip, it should come as no surprise to see the Nano L2100 churn out better performance numbers, but it's the margin of victory that might turn a few heads. In some cases, the Nano chip outpaced the Atom by a margin of 15 to 20 percent, showing it deserves more attention than just as an also-ran.
Of course, it's all for naught if VIA can't win the one contest that matters most: Vendor support.
If you're a subscriber to Maximum PC magazine, turn to page 8 in this month's issue (and for everyone else, hit the subscription link) and read Gordon Mah Ung's take on Intel and Nvidia's Secret War. Gordon discusses the issues preventing users from being able to run SLI on an Intel chipset, and what roadblocks might be in place for future Nehalem support on upcoming Nvidia chipsets. In other words, you might end up having to choose a side. Sound familiar?
Now there's talk of Nvidia want to support Intel's Atom processor, and whether or not you care about the low-cost PC and MID market, it might be in your best interest if the two sides can come to an agreement. But can they? Earlier in the year Nvidia and VIA entered into an alliance, and speculation suggests it was forged to compete against Intel's Atom. Now it appears Nvidia's intention all along may have been to gain a bargaining chip to convince Intel to let its Atom processor support Nvidia's MCP73 IGP chipset. If Intel agrees, DigiTimes reports Nvidia will then terminate its alliance with VIA and its Nano processor. And while VIA might not be too pleased with the idea (rebound relationships never work out anyway), an agreement over licensing terms in the low-cost PC market might open the door to better communication in the mid- to high-end desktop sectors.