Via Rolls Out New x86-Based Chips

Via Technologies' new Nano 3000 line of x86 processors is intended for such devices as notebooks and all-in-one desktop PCs. Via officials say the chips offer more performance and better energy efficiency. Via's move comes the same day an analyst speculates that Nvidia may be preparing to enter the x86 CPU space as a way of protecting its graphics chips market share.

Via Technologies is unveiling its latest x86-based processors designed for such devices as notebooks and all-in-one desktop PCs.

The Nano 3000 line of chips, built on Via's 64-bit superscalar "Isaiah" architecture, is designed to support systems running both Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems, including the new Windows 7 OS, which was introduced Oct. 22.

Via announced the Nano 3000 chips Nov. 3, saying they are now available to OEMs and will go into mass production in the first quarter of 2010.

The news comes the same day that an analyst said graphics chips maker Nvidia may enter the x86 CPU market in hopes of protecting its share of the GPU market and to address the growing trend of merging CPU and GPU computing. Both Intel and Advanced Micro Devices are aggressively looking to bring greater graphics capabilities to their x86 processors.

In a note Nov. 3, Broadpoint AmTech analyst Doug Freedman said one way for Nvidia to enter the x86 CPU space would be through an acquisition of Via, though he added that he thought the more likely approach for Nvidia would be through internal development. He noted that Nvidia has been hiring engineers who once worked for Transmeta, a now-defunct company that at one point made highly energy-efficient x86 processors.

Nvidia is scheduled to announce quarterly earnings Nov. 5.

For their part, Via officials touted the capabilities of their company's new line of processors.

"With the Via Nano 3000 Series, we are launching our fastest and most power-efficient processors yet," Richard Brown, vice president of international marketing for Via, said in a statement.

The six Via chip in the Nano 3000 family run at speeds of between 1GHz and 2GHz, and offer up to 20 percent more performance while consuming 20 percent less power than current Nano processors, according to the company. They also offer Via's VT virtualization technology.

The Nano 3000 line also is designed for easy upgrading, being pin-compatible with Via's Nano 1000 and 2000 series, as well as Via C7, C7-M and Eden chips.