When it comes to new opportunities for growth in the PC
industry, the common trend appears to be going downward instead of up. We first
saw this with ASUS' Eee PC notebook which starts at $299 for a 2G
model and goes on up to $499 for an 8G
Other manufacturers like ECS,
are also looking to move a bit down-market with low-cost notebooks aimed at
price-conscious consumers and the education market. While much of the action is
taking place in the mobile sector, there is also some activity now taking place
with desktops as well.
ASUS is once again leading the charge with its Digital
Home System EP20 and Essentio
CS5110 desktops. Both desktop machines are built around an Intel processing
NVIDIA, which recently
had a few choice words for Intel and its integrated graphics which it
deemed "a joke", contends that it can better Intel at the low-end for
desktop computers. NVIDIA plans on countering Intel with cheap, but powerful
chipsets, graphics solutions, and processors with the help of VIA.
During NVIDIA's financial analyst meeting today, the company
revealed plans for what it calls "The World's Most Affordable Vista
Premium PC". The platform use a VIA Isaiah processor coupled with an
integrated NVIDIA chipset. NVIDIA reckons that the Isaiah + NVIDIA IGP
combination is good for a total of 36 GFLOPS in comparison to a mere 6.4 GFLOPS
for a comparable Celeron-based system with an Intel 945 IGP/ICH4 chipset.
NVIDIA also claims that its platform will be Windows Vista
Premium capable, support Blu-ray HD and DX10, and cost less than $45.
Most would have written off VIA when thinking solely of its
current C7-M processors. However, the upcoming Isaiah processor architecture
promises performance that is comparable to or exceeds figures put up by
Intel's current Celeron processors. Early CrystalMark benchmarks for a 1.0GHz
Isaiah show it to be 280%
faster in ALU performance and 190% faster in FPU performance than a
comparable C7-M. The performance figures also show Isaiah to be comparable in performance
to Celeron-M and Pentium-M processors of similar clock speeds.
The real test, however, will be to see how Isaiah stacks up
to Intel's new Diamondville-based Atom processors which are
destined for low-cost desktops and notebooks which are typically powered by
Celeron processors. We don't yet have performance figures for any of Intel's
Atom processors at the moment, but let's hope that for NVIDIA and VIA's sake
that the new platform will be able to back up NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang's
"We're Going to Open a Can of Whoop Ass" comment.
quote: no one will buy it if it can't play Crysis.
quote: Prices for the chips range from $45 for the Z500 to $160 for the Z540 in quantities of 1,000.