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VIA plans quad-core chip

VIA plans quad-core chip

VIA is rumoured to be producing a quad-core Nano processor with a DirectX 11 chipset.

While the technology sector might be keeping a beady eye on ARM for the next Intel-killer in the desktop and server market, the world's smallest x86 licensee VIA is upping its game with a planned quad-core chip.

According to an unconfirmed report from industry rumour-mill DigiTimes, VIA is looking to follow up on its public plans to launch a dual-core netbook-oriented Nano processor with a quad-core variant by the end of next year. Interestingly, rumours also state that the chip will ship with a new chipset, VN11, which introduces DirectX 11 support to the platform for the first time.

The dual-core Nano, built in partnership with TSMC on a 40nm process and expected to clock at 2GHz on a 1,333MHz bus with 2MB of L2 cache, is expected to give Intel's Atom processor a run for its money in the netbook sector. If the company can launch a quad-core chip with similar specifications early in 2011, however, it could steal a march on its rival and hopefully capitalise on the increased interest in many-core low-power servers that's currently seeing ARM Cortex and Intel Atom processors becoming the flavour of the year.

That would certainly be good news for the company, and if there's one thing it could use right now, it's good news: VIA has reported a net loss for the first half of 2010 of a whopping £29 million, or around double the losses of the same period last year. With Intel looking to grow its Atom brand into new markets, and the increased economies of scale and brand awareness this implies, VIA is going to have to innovate its way back to profit: a quad-core processor that meets the power efficiency of an ARM processor and the convenience of x86 somewhere in the middle would certainly do that.

Are you pleased to see that VIA is still keeping up the battle with Intel, or has the portable x86 market already been dominated by Intel's Atom and CULV offerings? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

11 Comments

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south side sammy 6th September 2010, 11:26 Quote
To bad Nvidia didn't buy these people out. Would be nice to see what would come if there were some real 3rd party x86 processors to choose from.
TWeaK 6th September 2010, 11:51 Quote
I'd like to see Via do well, though I don't think I'd get my hopes up much. Back when netbooks were first coming out they were supposed to be doing just this, with the old Nano being more powerful than Atoms, but it just never materialised.

@sammy: I think if Nvidia had bought Via a clause in their contract with Intel would have ended their x86 license.
perplekks45 6th September 2010, 13:16 Quote
I think it would be nice to have an alternative to Atom-based netbooks. But I think we'll rather see ARM solutions after VIA has disappointed in that market sector again and again....
Timmy_the_tortoise 6th September 2010, 14:17 Quote
What's the TDP going to be like with one of these?

Last I checked, the Nano had nothing on Atom when it came to low power consumption.
Cobalt 6th September 2010, 15:57 Quote
Atom's problem was that in a bid to keep power consumption down it couldn't even perform the basic tasks of netbooks while running windows (shame Linux didn't get shipped with more of them). Is quad core really necessary in the netbook sector though?
Timmy_the_tortoise 6th September 2010, 16:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobalt
Atom's problem was that in a bid to keep power consumption down it couldn't even perform the basic tasks of netbooks while running windows (shame Linux didn't get shipped with more of them). Is quad core really necessary in the netbook sector though?

Good point. I can't imagine anyone will ever be using a netbook for video encoding or gaming or anything which is particularly multi-threaded... Dual core I can understand, so that you can do more than just run one or two programs at a time.. but Quad is a bit much.
javaman 6th September 2010, 18:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmy_the_tortoise
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobalt
Atom's problem was that in a bid to keep power consumption down it couldn't even perform the basic tasks of netbooks while running windows (shame Linux didn't get shipped with more of them). Is quad core really necessary in the netbook sector though?

Good point. I can't imagine anyone will ever be using a netbook for video encoding or gaming or anything which is particularly multi-threaded... Dual core I can understand, so that you can do more than just run one or two programs at a time.. but Quad is a bit much.

These are primarily aimed at the server section who want low power with many cores for servers with high requests. The benefit filters down to netbooks in the form of low power with the potential to handle a lot of instructions at once. ATM the netbook market doesn't need a quad but even thats changing withword about to go multithreaded....however that will work. I do basic programming on my netbook and the atom can just about handle that. It also struggles with video playback so both a dual or even a quad would be very welcome and it also brings gaming closer to netbooks. In the future this technology will develop into very fast quads that sip at power. Personally I would love to program on one of these.
TomH 6th September 2010, 20:12 Quote
Via really, REALLY need to put more effort into working with the Linux community; their lack of open-source driver efforts (particularly on the GPU side) really hinder their use with many low-power/embedded applications, where Linux is extremely prevalent.
Adnoctum 7th September 2010, 09:10 Quote
Just in time to be rolled over by AMD's Ontario-based systems. Much more attractive option.
Has anyone read anything about an Ontario quad in the future? I've only read about duals. Is it built modularly like Bulldozer for easy redesign?
l3v1ck 7th September 2010, 18:39 Quote
It doesn't matter how good their CPU's are if you can't buy them. A quick look round all the netbboks/laptops on sale in local electronics shops and you'll only see one thing: Intel Atom, Intel Atom, Intel Atom, Intel Atom, etc
You can't find them on sale anywhere even though (in my opinion) the existing NAno 3000's are better than Intel Atoms.
CowBlazed 10th September 2010, 01:46 Quote
Ya Nanos have been good for a while now, unfortunately they have next to no design wins and you its practically impossible to buy one even if you wanted to.
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