VIA launches Nano processor

July 31, 2008 // 8:59 a.m.

Tags: #cpu #epia #isaiah #itx #launch #low #mini #nano #power #processor #sn #via

VIA has launched a new Nano processor as part of the new EPIA-SN mini-itx platform and promises a revolutionary jump in performance compared to previous VIA CPUs.

The Nano, formerly codenamed Isaiah, features a x86-64-bit superscalar design and is built on a 65nm process technology between TSMC and Fujitsu. This technology is further complemented by the fact the entire design is completely lead and halogen-free and is fully compliant with RoHS and WEEE regulations.

The NanoBGA2 package is just 63.3mm square and is pin-compatible with previous C7 CPUs, so mini-ITX EPIA boards can be easily interchanged at the manufacturing level, in addition to a simple BIOS update. Unfortunately, these are still hard-soldered to the board so there's no at-home upgrading still, sorry.

Other features include an 800MHz V4 FSB, the SSE instruction set, 64k L1 data and instruction cache and 1MB of 16-way associative L2 cache in its single core design. However the biggest performance increase is in the fact this is VIA's first processor with out of order issue and execution - something Intel has touted since the Pentium Pro, yet has removed for its Atom.

VIA has also introduced a new "C6" low power state (higher "C" numbers mean lower sleep states) cunningly branded Adaptive PowerSaver Technology. Finally VIA PadLock Security Engine is an on-die hardware cryptographic acceleration feature including dual quantum random number generators, AES encryption engine, SHA-1 and SHA-256 hashing and the standard NX-bit. We were told by VIA that this feature is apparently very popular in industry.

VIA launches  Nano processor VIA launches its Nano processor

It's worth remembering that the Atom isn't directly comparable to the Nano L2100 - at 25W is Nano dwarfs the Atom's power use of 8W - you'd need to drop down to a 1.3GHz U2350 to match it here. In addition - the new VIA CN896 single chipset supports PCI-Express and four SATA , whereas the Atom platform is completely locked down to use Intel 945G northbridge and ICH7 southbridge which only features a pair of SATA and no PCI-Express.

However the platform costs are just as epically different - you can currently pick up an old C7 based VIA EPIA-SN for a wallet busting £160, whereas an Atom mini-ITX board can be found for the price of two pints of lager and a chicken curry.

Well be testing them both in addition to AMD's lowest power offering - all on mini-ITX - to understand what they are designed for and where their performance stops and where they overlap.

Are you still all wrapped up in Atomic love or have you just ignited a new flame for Nano's too? Let us know your thoughts, in the forums.
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