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.

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