Preview: VIA VN1000 And Nano DC Platform: An IGP With Game?

Conclusion

We have to admit that we were a little curious about VIA’s re-asserted interest in entry-level gaming from an IGP. After all, it had been a while since we'd tested anything from S3. But our skepticism proved justified when we threw a few of the games in our benchmark suite at it. As the IGP stands right now, many modern games won't hit playable frame rates, even dialed down to the lowest possible quality/detail settings. Could the Chrome IGP be a viable solution in the most entry-level games? Perhaps. There remains driver work to be done before any sort of 3D is ready for prime time, though.

The greater problem (and this is something even Intel will face with its upcoming Sandy Bridge design) is that games evolve at a rate that IGP technology simply can’t match, so that even this latest attempt comes up short. Putting this in historical perspective, the Chrome 520 IGP is probably more powerful than a TNT2, so entry-level gaming could simply be a matter of using older games.

Of course, gaming is not what low-energy platforms are designed to do, and the Nano DC does low-energy tasks like media playback and light-duty office work very well. It even outpaces Intel's Atom clock-for-clock, even when the Atom is complemented by Nvidia's Next-Generation ION platform.

Thus, what we have in the Nano DC is a high-performance, low-power platform that, like all low-power platforms, can't really compete with mainstream desktop parts, as much as VIA would probably like it to. Nevertheless, it's much more likely that the even-more-miserly production version of this platform will make a strong showing in media-oriented PCs and netbooks in the coming months.

Perhaps the real question for VIA is: when, exactly, might this platform be ready for prime time? The company announced its VN1000 chipset nearly one year ago. It's still waiting for a process shrink. And then it needs to announce design wins. This would have been a killer little platform back when it was announced (before ION 2 and before Core i3). A year later, we're still impressed with that the solution can do. Now we just need to button it up, polish the software, and make this platform available.

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    Top Comments
  • CTPAHHIK
    D525 and ION2 is expensive combination. If VIA can deliver at price level of D400 series with ION2 or cheaper it would put good pressure on Intel.

    nVidia was late to market with GTX460, but given it's price point a lot of pressure was put on ATI.
    13
  • Other Comments
  • damasvara
    At last, VIA! Let the triple threat flame war begins! :lol:
    9
  • dEAne
    VIA shouldn't stop it should move right away.
    2
  • Ramar
    I'm interested, but I guarantee that I won't be by the time this is actually released.

    Technology seems to be the one thing in which the underdog third-party can't seem to do better. =[
    4
  • luke904
    im glad they are making a good try. I believe they will be on par (or maybe even better than an intel and ion platform) by the time the chip is manufactured at 40nm and drivers are finalized.
    5
  • CTPAHHIK
    D525 and ION2 is expensive combination. If VIA can deliver at price level of D400 series with ION2 or cheaper it would put good pressure on Intel.

    nVidia was late to market with GTX460, but given it's price point a lot of pressure was put on ATI.
    13
  • firebee1991
    Very interesting. While they should take their time and not try and get into the market too quickly, I would be happy to have a third competitor to Intel and AMD. The more competition the better.
    1
  • super_tycoon
    Oh good, Tom's did examine the performance of a d525/ion2 platform. For this, I am pleased, even if they chose relatively intense dx10 games, not oldish dx9 ones.... point being I still love my 1215n. The i3 efficiency is damning though, too bad all the optimus ultraportables are (imho) way overpriced.

    However, when the new shrunken processor arrives, I think Tom's should also include netbook-like tests. These low-energy platforms aren't meant to encode videos or apply 100 photoshop filters to a terabyte tiff. The atom was specifically built to reduce cpu overhead (it doesn't even have out-of-order execution). Maybe toss in a ulv i3 if you can scrounge one up. So ya, I'll be waiting.
    0
  • Jarmo
    Doesn't this remind me of previous S3 GPU offerings?
    Pretty decent low end performance... if the drivers were up to the task. But they're not.
    The shipping product needs to be rock solid if Via wants to overcome the suspicion.
    5 bucks cheaper but doesn't work... is not the way.
    0
  • sudeshc
    At least they are trying and seems like a good one. They should speed up things a bit.
    0
  • lashton
    correct me if im wrong but i thought no intel CPU had OOO execution
    -3
  • theshonen8899
    Yay VIA! I hope they can finally topple Intel and bring back powerful mobile solutions. All hail competition and the price drops that follow!
    0
  • Crashman
    CTPAHHIKD525 and ION2 is expensive combination. If VIA can deliver at price level of D400 series with ION2 or cheaper it would put good pressure on Intel. nVidia was late to market with GTX460, but given it's price point a lot of pressure was put on ATI.
    I will be very happy if the production version can stomp on the D525 while consuming similar power at a lower cost, mostly because I think the low-energy market is far too inflated right now.

    Yet rather than brag about what could be a performance leader in the low-energy class, VIA calls this a "mainstream desktop" solution. I think they need to rethink the marketing on this.
    0
  • Darkerson
    All things considered, I was rather impressed by what Via has to offer, especially since its not finalized yet. While I would never game with this, I would more then consider using it for an always on file server/NAS. Heres to hoping they are able to further improve it along the way. In the long run, the more options we have, the more these companies will compete for our money. Good job Via!
    0
  • liquidsnake718
    at least its good to know my dual core atom 330 and nvidia ion 1 12inch netbook is in good company and almost as good as a general laptop while my PC is still a beast.... asus really makes the lightest and thinnestdual core atom netbooks..... check out the asus eesashel 1020n... its a great netbook...
    0
  • IzzyCraft
    I enjoyed you VIA when you made mobos that didn't need expensive rambus ram for intel but sorry you mean nothing to me anymore :T

    The thing i would look for was movie playback and in that arena it's not exactly a show stopper. With that platform i'd be most concerned with if it can play full 1080p movies and flash particularly flash playback. then i'd look into power consumption etc.

    Really these low power solutions are meant for cheap media playback or cheap workstation solution.
    -1
  • randomizer
    :fou: Heatsink orientation is all wrong! Must resist urge to straighten...
    1
  • dominatorix
    I' want to see this on a netbook/notebook solution.
    2
  • Reynod
    No AMD products in the comparison charts?

    :(
    1
  • elbert
    I want to see the 40nm Nano DC clocked at 3GHz with an Nvidia discrete GPU compared against i3's. Good review but could the Nano DC been tested for OCing. I would like to get an ideal of how far a 40nm Nano DC can OC.
    2
  • K2N hater
    Looks pretty good for HTPCs rather than gaming.
    1