A Big Chance for a Smaller Vendor?
With vendors experimenting with form factors and specifications, it's a good time for Via to enter the market just ahead of Intel's Atom line. "Via has a track record for producing chips that meet these types of design requirements," McCarron said. "Their chips are low-power and low-cost and this is one area where Intel and Via are very much direct competitors."Later, HP could simply update the platform with Atom. "HP has been a much more aggressive when it chooses its suppliers and in terms of taking advantage of multiple, different processors," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight 64. "It seems HP is going to let the customers choose and that when Atom comes into a market, they will offer a version of that device and then probably keep both notebooks in the market." The win with HP might not help Via that much in the long run. Via has had a relation with HP and still supplies processors for its line of thin-client PCs. If other vendors enter this market-Dell seems to be the next major vendor likely to join the low-cost PC club-they might just turn to Intel. Brookwood also said he believes that since Intel's chips will come in using 2 watts or less of power and have better clock speeds, Intel has an advantage. "What Intel had done in the past with the subnotebook market was take a processor, slow down the clock speed and limit the power consumption, and what Via offered was a [much] simpler chip that used less power than the repurposed Intel chip," Brookwood said. "What Intel has done now is use Moore's Law not to increase the capability or the performance but to shrink the overall power appetite."
With a PC vendor like HP looking to jump into the market alongside companies like Asustek Computer, which has already made a splash with its Eee PC, Via and its processors may been seen as a viable alternative while Intel ramps up production of the Atom line. (The Eee PC and Intel's Classmate PC design are still using low-volt Celeron processors.)