VIA to stop making Intel chipsets?

July 6, 2007 // 6:48 p.m.

Tags: #1333fsb #c7 #chipset #computex #cx700 #epia #htpc #intel #kt #licence #license #market #p4x #rdram #sdram #sis #umpc #via

VIA's traditional markets are shrinking faster than a puddle in the desert, as it stands in the middle of a bus licence dispute with Intel over being allowed to make chipsets for the latest Intel processors.

Instead of risking getting sued, it has chosen to knock the business on the head and concentrate on making chipsets for its own C7 processors.

The C7s still use Intel technology though, as the chip connects to the CX700 northbridge (amongst others) with a standard P4 "quad pumped" 100MHz front side bus. How things will turn out after April next year when the contract officially runs out will be interesting to see though, but at this year's Computex tradeshow, VIA was firmly keeping mum when asked about it.

As it is yet to secure a 1333MHz front side bus licence from Intel and, with first half year sales dropping a massive 35 percent year on year, there is very little reason for VIA to try and clutch the ever shredding threads of this business unit.

Why would it, you ask? Because the mainstream market is massive, and with OEMs and ODMs looking for cheap yet capable chipsets to fill hundreds of thousands of PCs it's companies like VIA, SiS and Intel that dominate the market. However, with Intel aggressively pricing the other companies out the market, there is little space left for the small fish unable to make similar kinds of cutbacks and still invest enough into R&D for future products.

What will this do to the company that took on Goliath and successfully introduced a cheaper SDRAM chipset to the Intel Pentium 4 that was originally designed for more expensive RDRAM? It will concentrate on its own products geared towards home multimedia, commercial embedded clients, industrial PCs, point of sale terminals, ultra-mobile devices, set-top boxes, LCD TVs and car electronics markets.

At this end of the spectrum, it's unlikely we'll hear much from the company in the enthusiast's market in the future, unless it launches a larger range of home theatre products or the Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) platform takes off massively. Unfortunately for VIA though, the UMPC market is also something that Intel is going after too. Intel is soon to introduce Silverthorne and Menmo, but VIA does currently have an advantage thanks to its strong position in the market and an already comprehensive amount of experience under its belt.

Rough times ahead still or a whole new break for the Taiwanese team renowned for making great chipsets like the Apollo KT133a, KT266a and P4X266? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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