Via Unveils Quad-Core Mainstream PC Chip

Via is aiming its first x86 quad-core processor at everything from mainstream desktop and notebook PCs to mini-servers.

Via Technologies is rolling out its first quad-core processor designed for everything from small-form PCs to low-end servers.

Via announced the QuadCore processor May 12, with officials calling it the lowest-power quad-core chip on the market.

"As a result of the rapid proliferation of high-definition multimedia content and increasingly demanding multithreaded applications, a four-core processor is the new baseline for today's mainstream PC user," Epan Wu, head of processor platforms at Via, said in a statement. "The VIA QuadCore processor meets that need with the industry's most power-efficient architecture."

Currently, rivals Intel and Advanced Micro Devices offer dual-core processors for mainstream PCs; most of their quad-core chips are aimed at high-end-and power-hungry-gaming machines. However, Via officials said the power efficiency of their QuadCore chip will make it attractive to OEMs to put it into their mainstream systems.

The new 1.2Ghz x86 chip offers a TDP (thermal design power) of 27.5 watts, which is about 21 percent more energy-efficient than comparable chips from Intel and AMD, according to Via officials. They said the chip could be used in everything from desktop PCs, notebooks and small form-factor PCs to all-in-one PCs and mini-servers.

While the QuadCore may be highly energy-efficient, it remains to be seen the impact and reach it will have in the industry. Currently Via holds about 0.2 percent of the world's chip market; Intel has about 80.8 percent; and AMD has 18.9 percent, according to market research firm IDC. In addition, IDC analysts say that ARM Holdings, whose low-power chip designs currently power most mobile devices, including fast-selling tablets and smartphones, also will become a larger player in the PC chip space, accounting for as much as 13 percent of the market by 2015.

The 40-nanometer QuadCore chips put four "Isaiah" cores on two dies, which officials say offer improvements in multitasking and multimedia performance. They offer such capabilities as Adaptive Overclocking, 4MB of L2 cache, Via's VT virtualization technology-which lets users run legacy software in virtual environments without hurting performance-and the company's PadLock with the Advanced Cryptography Engine, a hardware-based security tool for data encryption on the fly.

The chips are pin-compatible with Via's Eden, C7 and Nano E-Series and Eden X2 processors.

Via will have the new QuadCore chips on display at the upcoming Computex show in Taiwan, which runs May 31 to June 4. Shipments will start in the third quarter.