A New Player In The Desktop Game?
It seems like AMD and Intel have always been the only two players in the CPU game, battling each other for market supremacy through price wars and technological advancement that continue to make their parts ever-denser and more power hungry. That hasn't always been the case, though. And it's actually not even the case today.
Intel took a big step in the direction of efficiency by killing its Pentium 4, but many of its newest parts still push more than 100 W under load. It seems that every time a new competitor steps out with something interesting, Intel is right behind them with its foot on the accelerator. Further limiting this game is the fact that Intel owns the x86 instruction set, and isn’t ready to issue any new licenses.
Yet there was one other company (besides AMD) with an x86 license, back from the days when IBM had the power to force Intel to sell them. VIA bought Cyrix and turned what had been a mediocre desktop CPU into a highly-successful low-energy part. A few generations worth of improvements later, and VIA is ready to re-enter the desktop market with a high-frequency dual-core version of its popular Nano processor.
With a pre-production CPU clocked at 1.80 GHz, the Nano DC (dual-core) platform that arrived in our lab is more a testament to the company's ingenuity than a representation of production-ready hardware. Yet, VIA is confident in the CPU's performance as it waits on its manufacturer to supply a die-shrunk version. Moreover, it wanted us to see what it’s doing with IGP graphics. Today’s article isn’t just proof-of-concept for a CPU, but an entire platform with a DX10.1 integrated GPU expected to lay waste to low-energy competitors.
VIA flew out from Taiwan to hand-deliver this sample to our lab and reminded us that it was still around, alive and kicking. Will that tenacity carry over into entry-level computing success? The company has had almost an entire year to polish up this platform, which was announced in December of 2009. Let's see how it fares in today's much more competitive market.