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"The World's Most Affordable Vista Premium PC"  (Source: NVIDIA)
NVIDA looks to VIA for help with a new low-cost processing platform

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 model.

Other manufacturers like ECS, Everex, HP, and Dell 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 platform.

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.

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my concern
By tastyratz on 4/10/2008 8:15:46 PM , Rating: 3
a lot of harsh words have been exchanged and Nvidia recruiting via may actually be a bad thing.

Intel has already shown it wants nothing more than to snuff out via making cpu's and has really put the strong arm out fairly recently. Relations between the 2 are strained... that matched with the recent bouts between Nvidia\intel may lead to some segregation. What might this hold for the future of Nforce chipsets and Intel chipset sli support?

I have a feeling as tempting as this setup may sound it could also spell doom for various market opportunities for enthusiasts.

This path might hurt Nvidia as much as it may help.
Gotta give them credit for having brass balls on this, pretty bold moves and statements against the giant.

RE: my concern
By someguy123 on 4/10/2008 8:22:56 PM , Rating: 4
i think intel put nvidia into this position honestly. like you've said they've been trying to strong-arm their competition and now they're attempting to drastically change the way graphics are processed by pushing ray tracing. the only reason they're pushing ray tracing is to try use it as a way to ahead of the competition if it actually pans out.Ray tracing does have it's benefits but that really isn't the reason intel is pushing for the switch. if Intel wins that battle they will completely monopolize the graphics industry, and I'm sure nvidia is pretty angry about it. now their going on the offensive trying to take intel's market share from other components and I think it's a good idea else they'd be consumed by intel.

RE: my concern
By murphyslabrat on 4/11/2008 1:26:08 PM , Rating: 3
And the fact that Intel is mostly right about Ray-tracing. I think that to place it purely on Traditional x86 processing would be a mistake, but it is what Intel does best. I suppose it is just a matter of how well Intel does the specialized instructions, and how well Larrabee can handle traditional 3D rendering; cause I know for a fact that this will not take off if no one buys it, and no one will buy it if it can't play Crysis.

RE: my concern
By EglsFly on 4/11/2008 8:29:57 PM , Rating: 2
no one will buy it if it can't play Crysis.

I would beg to differ, the world does not revolve around Crysis! At this price level, most computer uses don't even involve 3D gaming, and for those that do game, crysis is is a very very small portion of the overall gaming market.

RE: my concern
By murphyslabrat on 4/13/2008 5:40:35 PM , Rating: 2
I apologize, I was trying to make a point and a joke at the same time. Many distro's of Linux have great advantages over Windows. However, most applications do not run natively, and those that do are usually pretty obscure (as in, not on store shelves). Therefore, Linux is not a viable solution for the masses, outside of special purpose devices. There are other reasons for Linux's non-viability, this just being the largest.

Then, of course, I was poking fun at the people who asked about Crysis framerates on IBM's new super-computer nodes.

RE: my concern
By S3anister on 4/13/2008 11:14:52 PM , Rating: 2
I hated Crysis, give me CS any day...

RE: my concern
By Conroe on 4/12/2008 8:44:22 PM , Rating: 2
If you can't beat them join them. I really think nvidia is in this boat with nivdia. VIA is a real bad choice of of frinds.

RE: my concern
By Conroe on 4/12/2008 8:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, give me a edit PLEASE, nvidia in in the boat with VIA .

RE: my concern
By eye smite on 4/10/2008 8:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
Nvidia could have responded in a more subtle manner, but I wouldn't have expected them to. They're respected enough in their own field to where they can take on Intel in a bitter competition like this and come out just fine. If they partner with Via, that will certainly give Via more attention. If they partnered, however unlikely, with AMD that would give them another strong avenue to pursue. If they partnered with Via and AMD both, Intel might have to rethink their statements and their plans. Just because AMD owns Ati doesn't mean they won't partner with Nvidia in a situation like this. Anyway, the bell has been rung on round 1, will be interesting to see how it goes from here.

RE: my concern
By murphyslabrat on 4/11/2008 1:30:33 PM , Rating: 2
But why would they want to? AMD has competing products that they could push. They even have plans for a very similar platform in the coming year.

A partnership between AMD and NVIDIA makes absolutely no sense for either of them.

RE: my concern
By eye smite on 4/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: my concern
By murphyslabrat on 4/13/2008 5:51:55 PM , Rating: 2
The reason why I see this as a silly idea, is that AMD now has competing products in every concerned market. This situation was not present during the time of the nForce 4 and 5.

Yes there has been a strong nVidia presence in OEM computers, but with the 690G/SB600 chipset, this has changed. Try looking for a modern AMD computer from Dell, Gateway, etc that comes with an nVidia chipset.

RE: my concern
By eye smite on 4/15/2008 10:30:36 AM , Rating: 1
That's really easy to do. Every HP sold with athlonX2 or phenoms in any flavor have the nvidia 6150 in them. Wow, for techy type people I should be surprised at how vastly outdated your knowledge is, but then it doesn't surprise me at all to see you all think you know everything when you don't apparently know anything. Wow.........just wow.

Seriously, go check best buy and circuit city's site for yourselves oh brilliant ones.

RE: my concern
By Targon on 4/14/2008 7:54:13 AM , Rating: 2
When AMD wasn't in the chipset business, NVIDIA had a great position as the number one source of chipsets for AMD processors. Things have changed a bit, where the new AMD chipsets are very competitive, and you can't beat the AMD 780G for a chipset with integrated graphics.

As a result of how good the 780G is for the OEM market, I would be really surprised if AMD does not pick up a LOT of sales. AMD is also doing better when it comes to chipset performance, so that is another reason why I suspect we will see more AMD chipset based systems showing up in the future.

There is also the new Puma platform, which for the first time will be a mainstream laptop platform that will allow for add-in "video cards". It will add a lot to the overall perception that you don't need a NVIDIA chipset to get good performance.

This is why NVIDIA is a bit nervous, because when AMD had to use a third party to generate sales, they were in the best position. NVIDIA may hold the lead in terms of video cards for a while, but their chipsets may lose their position as the "must have".

Now, AMD is not going to do anything directly to hurt NVIDIA, but with a more competitive product line in the low to mid range, that WILL hurt NVIDIA. Remember, there may be a higher profit margin on the high end graphics products, but the real money is made in the integrated, low and mid range offerings.

RE: my concern
By eye smite on 4/15/2008 10:37:26 AM , Rating: 2
You know I understand that all too well. What you're failing to see is OEM's like HP are still wanting the nvidia chipsets, and AMD is not going to turn their nose up at their current partnership with nvidia when such a large customer is still wanting nvidia in their systems that you can find for sell at best buy and circuit city. Don't even tell me they are leftover systems when the current phenom tri-core HP is selling has the nvidia chipset. The scope of vision you wonderful people have here in these forums is amazingly narrow minded on issues like this. If nvidia is helping amd sell cpu's to oem's, why wouldn't they further their partnership with nvidia, despite their own ati products. Jesus, you people can't see the forest for the trees.

RE: my concern
By Samus on 4/11/08, Rating: -1
RE: my concern
By tastyratz on 4/11/2008 8:24:59 AM , Rating: 3
Via held the power efficiency and heat generation belt for awhile now. I suspect atom and other processors to finally now push them out but they still make a very efficient processor. Via has not long been touted as an enthusiasts powerhouse but their processors work excellently for their intended audience. I have a via setup in my car as a carputer. Via makes a very good low power low heat low cost niche market processor. If nvidia wants to pull off a $45 system Via would be the most economic rout to pursue.

RE: my concern
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 8:50:18 PM , Rating: 2
The only reason Via held any belt was nobody else had the balls to market such craptacularly underwhelming CPUs and keep a straight face while doing so.

What low power and equivalent performance to what Via has had? It's quite simple, underclock & undervolt half the processors made in the last few years and you'll come close enough, and yet still be able to scale higher when the need arises.

RE: my concern
By inperfectdarkness on 4/11/2008 8:58:29 AM , Rating: 2
i disagree. nvidia has a vice-grip on graphics. imagine if they merged with VIA. now you have a 3-way cpu market. if intel did ANYTHING to try and act propritary--their ship would start sinking; FAST.

intel make "currently" make the best cpu's...but that can easily change. (anyone remember the k7's?)

i think it's rather smart of nvidia. AMD would have been the ideal merger--but that's not happening. so pick another partner (other than intel) and keep innovating.

p.s. whatever happened to cyrex?

RE: my concern
By ElFenix on 4/11/2008 12:23:44 PM , Rating: 2
cyrix was bought by national semi. eventually all the engineers left. the brand was bought by via and used for a centaur-designed chip.

national used a cyrix chip for an embedded processor called geode. AMD bought that name from national.

RE: my concern
By murphyslabrat on 4/11/2008 1:33:18 PM , Rating: 3
So, basically, Cyrix was raped and burned, and the ashes were scattered to the four winds.

I bet the CEO worshiped Baal or Beelzebub or something.

RE: my concern
By murphyslabrat on 4/11/2008 1:52:02 PM , Rating: 2
The thing about the K7 is that it performed competitively with the Pentium III for as long as the Pentium III was actively in development, it was quite competitive with the K7. When not beating it, following awfully close. To illustrate this point, I give you an article from X-Bit Labs:

Obviously, the Pentium III was a fairly outdated CPU, and definitely not capable of clocking as fast or as well as the k7, but imagine if the P6 core had received the funding and staffing that Netburst received. We would have had Core 2's in 2003.

All this to say that the biggest reason why K7 and K8 received such a lime-light, is because Intel screwed itself with Netburst. Was Intel an innocent bystander? No. They screwed themselves hard, after screwing a horde of customers.

RE: my concern
By eye smite on 4/11/2008 2:33:14 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed, that's why I very much enjoyed the athlonXP's at that time, turning in the same benchmarks and work at noticeably slower speeds than the P4's. Anyone that couldn't see the P4 was a hosejob from intel deserved to be parted from their money.

RE: my concern
By Ammohunt on 4/11/2008 4:38:34 PM , Rating: 2
Cyrix got out of the CPU business and into the Electric stove business. Since their processor designs were better at turning electricity into egg frying heat then into efficient computing cycles.

RE: my concern
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 8:56:43 PM , Rating: 2
Cyrix performance was quite acceptible except for floating point. They were not especially hot running, put in context a K6-2/3 was worse so basically the issue was would it run with a modest 3 cubic inch, $1 heatsink on it and the answer was yes.

Question the Price?
By Lord Banshee on 4/10/2008 9:06:29 PM , Rating: 2
I question the price but i open my arms to accept if true. Similar boards with just the older Via CPUS like the EPIA-N10000 Nano-ITX boards costs ~$200 USD. So how is nvidia going to have something that is 3+ times faster for 1/4 the price?

Good Luck and i am happy to see more competition :p , keeps all companies on their toes.

RE: Question the Price?
By BigLan on 4/10/2008 9:28:44 PM , Rating: 2
There are c7 based boards available on newegg for under $120 and C3 boards for under $50. Clubit has a C7 mATX board for about $60 as well. The higher prices you see are for nano-itx, which are niche products and have a higher price.

The $45 price is probably wholesale, so isn't that much less than the current pricing.

RE: Question the Price?
By phatboye on 4/10/2008 9:29:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yea and to add to that, when they say "platform" is the CPU included in that $45 price tag? If so then sign me up.

RE: Question the Price?
By spluurfg on 4/11/2008 4:28:43 AM , Rating: 2
I'm guessing $45 is the wholesale cost of core logic + cpu. This would be the price paid by OEM's to put onto a mobo.

RE: Question the Price?
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 8:59:32 PM , Rating: 2
No that is the whole finished (example pictured) board populated with everything. The $45 price may be volume not retail.

RE: Question the Price?
By rhangman on 4/10/2008 9:46:03 PM , Rating: 2
An MM3500 board (C7 1.5GHz) is more like $70USD though. At least with Nvidia on board Via might shrink the CPU sooner which would make it even more competitive in terms of power requirements.

As for the price, it isn't really clear, but I would think they are talking CPU+chipset, so the actual price of a board would be more, especially if it is say Pico-ITX.

RE: Question the Price?
By Lonyo on 4/11/2008 3:43:20 AM , Rating: 2
How will nvidia help VIA shrink their processor?
Both companies are fabless, and VIA are currently on 65nm anyway for the CN (same as AMD).

RE: Question the Price?
By rhangman on 4/11/2008 6:16:31 AM , Rating: 2
Because they were talking about shrinking it down the line depending on costs, etc. More volume sales from Nvidia could potentially make it happen sooner.

As for being the same as AMD, AMD is gearing up for 45nm in the not too distant future and anyway, we are comparing to the Atom here not Bobcat (probably 45nm anyway).

By wingless on 4/10/2008 8:37:16 PM , Rating: 2
If Nvidia can't buy Via and obtain an x86 license of their own, they may enter into a CLOSER strategic partnership and share technology. I'm sure if given the chance, Nvidia could design a competitive x86 CPU. Jen-Sun must be dreaming about a cForce CPU that can compete with Intel's offerings. Nvidia is in a tight spot between AMD and Intel and I hope this won't be the last death-cry of Nvidia. I would really like to see them with their own CPU.

RE: Nvidia+Via
By lagitup on 4/10/2008 9:54:47 PM , Rating: 3
What I really hear you saying here is, nVidia would make a processor core and then sell it out to the usual suspects who for a small fee (less than 30 bucks) would overclock it and then give it a lifetime warranty and give you the ability to trade it in for a better one six months later (I'm looking at you, eVGA)
Hang on, I'm gonna go touch myself to the thought of an xForce nVidia PC...

HP 2133?
By UNCjigga on 4/10/2008 10:22:10 PM , Rating: 3
This would make a great platform for a refresh of that HP 2133 Mini-note that was released earlier this week.

All of this...
By superunknown98 on 4/11/2008 9:34:53 AM , Rating: 1
makes perfectly no sense. Nvidia makes chipsets for intel and AMD both of which also make chipsets. However both AMD and intel also make graphics as well as VIA. AMD and Intel are both moving towards graphics on the CPU, leaving Nvidia out in the cold. Now nvida is relying more and more on companies that need them less and less. If you ask me, Nvidia had better design a CPU or get cozy with VIA. VIA is looking to face both AMD and Intel CPU's in the near future and could probably use some help.

And some people think this market is complicated?

RE: All of this...
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 9:05:07 PM , Rating: 2
Makes perfect sense. nVidia had AMD and Intel processor support and now Via processor support. nVidia sells a chipset and Via tricks buyers into another generation of their poor processors. Both make a buck.

VIA Chipsets?
By ninjit on 4/10/2008 8:16:06 PM , Rating: 2
I thought VIA was the only one that supported their CPUs with controllers.

Does nVidia already make chipsets for VIA platforms?
If not, I guess this means they're going to start.

Price of the Atom
By nafhan on 4/11/2008 11:00:23 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't $45 the price of the cheapest atom processor?
Prices for the chips range from $45 for the Z500 to $160 for the Z540 in quantities of 1,000.

from this dailytech article a few days ago:

VIA-Nvidia Merger
By drakanious on 4/11/2008 4:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
A full-blown merger would make sense in many ways, though Nvidia has said many times that they're not interested in getting into the CPU business.

I just wish Nvidia/AMD/Intel/VIA would play nice with multi-gpu architectures.

This is good for us gamers
By dave74 on 4/15/2008 1:14:53 PM , Rating: 2
I think both companies are pretty heavy duty.. it will be interesting to see who will prevail. There are a bunch of good articles popping up:

Good on nVidia's CEO for dropping the PC stance. I wish more companies would just say what they mean. The competition will be great!

By sprockkets on 4/11/2008 3:21:48 AM , Rating: 1
Given the volume and target market of mini itx computers, save for Intel's great processor/archaic SIS chipset (and the BIOS in it is very lacking, i.e. no S3 support, what is this pre 1998?), I welcome this.

VIA decided to fully opensource their chipset tech, but seeing as how nVidia is well supported under Linux, and a hopefully capable VIA processor, I'd rather have that.

To put how poor the C7 is, I tried this: I record via a WinFast Xpert card, using xvid and mp3. The C7 1.5ghz chip froze up the encoding. The 1.2ghz D201GLY2 board worked fine.

Paying $230 for an mini ITX Intel chipset board and around $100 for a single core Celeron Socket P or $220 for a C2D to go into it is just ridiculous.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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