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Via Launches Nano Processor

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 12 comments

Via Technologies is ramping up its efforts to take on chip giant Intel. The newly unveiled Nano processor has Via aiming directly at Intel’s Atom processor.

The x86-compatible Nano processor is Via’s first 64-bit superscalar processors from the company’s portfolio of products. Based on the company’s Isaiah micro-architecture the processor was built from the ground up to utilize existing Via C7 pin arrangements. This should allow OEMs and motherboard manufacturers that are currently producing C7 processor based products to have an easier transition towards the company’s latest processor.

Forged from 65nm processing, the Nano features “aggressive power and thermal management features.” Via claims the 21mm x 21mm nanoBGA2 packaged processor pulls 100mW (0.1w) during idle times. "VIA Nano processors represent the next generation of x86 technology, providing the fundamental building blocks for a new genre of optimized computing solutions," said Wenchi Chen, President and CEO, VIA Technologies, Inc. "’Small is Beautiful’ is more than a design strategy; it’s our vision of where the PC market is heading and our new processors will help the market realize that dream."

However, the Nano processor has a higher thermal envelope versus Intel’s Atom processor. While the Atom peaks at 2.5 watts, the Nano’s lowest consuming chip draws 5 watts at max. The Nano’s power consumption may not win over many users, but the processor’s performance may provide two to three times the performance of a comparable Atom processor. Intel’s Atom processor uses a simplistic in-order execution, while the Nano utilizes a sophisticated out-of-order design. The Nano features “high-speed, low power” 800 MHz front side bus, two 64 KB L1 caches, and 1 MB exclusive L2 cache that provides a boost to multimedia performance. The Nano will be available in two flavors, L-series and U-series. The L-series is geared towards desktops and mobile PC systems, while the U-series is targeting small-form-factor desktops and ultra mobile devices.

The Nano processor is currently available to OEMs and motherboard manufacturers. No pricing information was disclosed at launch.

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  • 1 Hide
    draxssab , May 29, 2008 8:27 PM
    This looks very interesting, just let us know some pricing. For now, VIA took over Intel on this according to me, as funny as it could sound :p 
  • 0 Hide
    grieve , May 29, 2008 10:11 PM
    Who is going to buy a computer that says “VIA Inside”?

    I am sure the average user doesn’t care what powers there machine but for many of us it would be hard to jump ship from AMD/Intel and get a VIA... for now anyways, lets see some performance statistics.

    It is nice to see these guys getting some headlines; hopefully they have a competitive product.
  • 0 Hide
    wifi , May 30, 2008 12:27 AM
    from what the article says, that't a winner product as it gets the best of both worlds: performance for some more power and a real power saving when you don't need performance. However, we wait for the review to see if it's not just marketing talk
  • Display all 12 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    Luscious , May 30, 2008 12:37 AM
    This sounds like an ideal upgrade for the HP 2133 mininote. The extra muscle would certainly benefit Vista and multimedia playback. Heck its pin compatible - download a firmware upgrade, gimme a screwdriver and I can do it myself.
  • 0 Hide
    smelly_feet , May 30, 2008 1:19 AM
    This is great. Now the next step for via and intel (and Jetway) is to reduce the consumption of the rest of the system board - chipset, memory controller, etc. So far it seems like they all focus on reducing the consumption of the processor. The new intel board is a great candidate for a Hac^&*$osh with its 950 chipset. Now intel will be attacked on two fronts - amd on the performance side and via on the low power cpu side.
  • -1 Hide
    parad0xic , May 30, 2008 1:37 AM
    errr for those that are posting just FYI the nano processor is for mobile applications aka cellphones n such or perhaps lowend PCs like the EEE but for sure its not a product to rival intels core2 products
  • 0 Hide
    smelly_feet , May 30, 2008 2:10 AM
    http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=30092&vpn=BOXD945GCLF&manufacture=Intel

    the above link is for the intel version of the nano, i.e. the atom embedded in a mini itx board.

    ...unless there are different versions of the atom processor...

  • 1 Hide
    knickle , May 30, 2008 3:38 PM
    grieveWho is going to buy a computer that says “VIA Inside”?

    You'd be surprized. I have one of their older C3 products running in a custom mobile pc application. It's definately not for gaming... but trust me, it has it's uses.
  • 0 Hide
    enewmen , May 30, 2008 5:09 PM
    I think this is what the Atom SHOULD have been. (as well as being a system on a chip). At least give the ATOM 64 bit instructions to FINALLY kill off all 32 bit windows and 32 bit applications. I also don't know why Intel is obsessed with MIDs. It seems everyone I can think of wants to run real Linux or Windows apps with quick lauches to the nomal Internet apps.
    Such as, Windows 7 is getting castrated so it can run on the eeePC. Rather than making the Windows 7 leaner to run better on normal notebooks.
    I don't think I explained this well, but the eeePC clones (and the future eeePC) with the small internal hard-drives will be VERY popular and what the UMPCs should have been.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 30, 2008 5:28 PM
    800 MHZ FSB? I see substantial gains over the atom, bridging the gap between core 2 ULV and atom. Maybe this is why intel is pushing for dual core atom while pushing back centrino 2.

    Reducing the fab tech to 55 or 45 (eventually 32)nm would reduce the power consumption, but this processor will not be fit for anything smaller than the hp mininote for mobile purposes.

    If the 800 mhz fsb, "out-of-order" instruction processing, and pin compatibility point to anything though, it's a future dual core nano.
  • 0 Hide
    parawizard , May 30, 2008 11:32 PM
    Hopefully S3*
  • 0 Hide
    parawizard , May 30, 2008 11:32 PM
    I would like to point out a few things...

    While the VIA C8 has a higher maximum TDP it also can change the frequency clock in 1 cycle. Meaning it can save energy quite easier then the Atom. Where atom is a very simple chip the C8 is very complex. Just as others have brought up also the atom is in order and the C8 is out of order execution.

    The Intel chipsets matched with the Atoms on these boards are really sucking. Hopefully gets a chance to throw something really low power consumption or way better performance on new C8 boards.