VIA Moves Into PCs, Notebooks With New Processor

The Taipei, Taiwan-based company said the processor "will enter mass production" by the end of this quarter and initially launch at clockspeeds of as much as 2.0GHz, with an 800MHz VIA V4 bus. The processor, which is based on VIA's "Esther" core, is X86-based.

VIA's new C7 processor initially will launch at clockspeeds of as much as 2.0GHz.

In addition, the company said it would package with the processor a set of security features that it calls its PadLock Hardware Security Suite, which includes several layers of random number generators (RNG), cryptography and execute protection.

Though VIA issued statements suggesting it was upbeat about the chip and its prospects for use in thin-and-light notebooks, mini PCs, home media centers and other electronic and computing devices, the company stopped short of saying it had reached any particular OEM agreements for the technology.

"Hopefully, with a new CPU, with a new image, with a new notebook offering, VIA will have some kind of impact," said David Chang, president of Agama Systems, a Houston-based system builder.

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Chang suggested, however, that VIA may not be eager to bump heads with other chip makers, including Intel, Santa Clara, Calif., and Advanced Micro Devices, Sunnyvale, Calif., because the company has significant partnerships with each involving its other technologies, including motherboards and chipsets.

Chang said he believed VIA likely would see more success in Asian markets, which have been quicker to adopt different vendors in the ultra-portable space.

Other processor manufacturers, including IBM, Armonk, N.Y., and Transmeta, Santa Clara, Calif., have had difficult, if not impossible, times cracking the desktop and notebook space in the United States, where Intel and AMD dominate. In fact, Transmeta decided earlier this year it would abandon its processor business in favor of research and development.

The VIA processor was designed by the company's Austin, Texas-based design unit, Centaur Technologies, which spent several years designing the chip in an effort to combine performance and portability, the company said.