VIA's Nano X2 packs two out-of-order Isaiah cores with server-friendly features into a single chip.
While Intel's Sandy Bridge and AMD's Fusion platforms are dominating the tech headlines at the moment, low-power chip specialist VIA is reminding CES attendees that there's still room for another CPU maker by launching the Nano X2.
As its name suggests, the VIA Nano X2 is a dual-core variant of the company's low-power Nano processors. Featuring two Isaiah cores, the company has gone all-out to ensure that performance isn't harmed by the low-power draw design of the chip.
When we had our first look at a Nano X2 chip last year
, the chip was notably quicker than Intel's Atom in many tests, although it couldn't match low-power Core 2 chips. Nevertheless, the chip had enough power for basic gaming and 720p video playback. In fact, we reckoned that a bit of driver tweaking could even make 1080p video playback possible.
Both processing cores feature out-of-order execution, 64-bit support, a high-performance superscalar processing system and a speculative floating point algorithm that the company claims is 'most efficient.' There's also support for virtualisation extensions, as well as advanced power and thermal management.
Better yet, the chips are pin-compatible with the company's existing CPUs, meaning that OEMs can drop the new dual-core Nano X2s into their existing board designs without modification. In theory, this means we should start seeing devices based around the new chip hitting shelves in the very near future.
Despite its low-power credentials, the Nano X2 includes some impressive additional features: SSE4 support is included as standard, while on-chip AES encryption and decryption acceleration and VIA's PadLock hardware security technology also make an appearance.
Explaining the company's move to a dual-core design, VIA's Richard Brown stated that 'the VIA Nano X2 processor arrives at a time when software architectures are now optimised for multi-thread computing, and improvements in semi-conductor fabrication mean we can now double the number of processor cores while maintaining the same low energy consumption levels.
VIA's Nano X2 is aimed at notebooks, desktops and all-in-one designs, although the inclusion of cryptographic acceleration technology and virtualisation extensions suggest that it could find a home in low-power servers as well.
The chip is currently sampling to OEMs, with products based on the Nano X2 expected to appear within the first quarter of this year.
Do you think that 2011 could be the year that VIA offers real competition to AMD and Intel, or will it find its share of the low-power market snapped up by ARM? Share your thoughts over in the forums