Print 34 comment(s) - last by Oregonian2.. on May 30 at 7:09 PM

VIA hopes to take the fight to Intel with its Nano processors.

VIA's C7-M processor architecture has soldiered on for a number of years, but it's finally time for a chance. While the C7-M processors are relatively efficient and find homes in embedded products and notebooks like the HP 2133 Mini-Note, it's not exactly a performance powerhouse.

VIA hopes to change this with its Isaiah processor family which today is being officially launched as the Nano. The Nano is a 64-bit out-of-order processor design -- Intel's Atom is in-order to save power -- and is built on a 65 nanometer manufacturing process.

"VIA Nano processors represent the next generation of x86 technology, providing the fundamental building blocks for a new genre of optimized computing solutions," said VIA President and CEO Wenchi Chen. "‘Small is Beautiful’ is more than a design strategy; it’s our vision of where the PC market is heading and our new processors will help the market realize that dream."

The Nano will be available in both standard voltage (desktop) and ultra low voltage (notebook) SKUs to satisfy a large range of products. Standard voltage chips include the 1.8GHz Nano L2100 (25W) and 1.6Hz Nano L2200 (17W). The ultra low voltage lineup will consist of the 1.3GHz Nano U2300 (8W), 1.2GHz U2500 (6.8W), and the 1.0GHz U24000 (5W). All Nano processors include 1MB of L2 cache and an 800MHz FSB.

Preliminary benchmarks for the Nano have been quite favorable as previously reported. VIA's own supplied benchmarks also show that the Nano is quite a bit faster than the venerable C7-M.

However, the true test will be to see how the Nano stacks up to Intel's Atom processor. OEMs are flocking to Intel's latest mobile processor and the chip giant is expected to be in short supply until Q3 as a result. If VIA can match or exceed the performance of the Atom, the company might find itself in prime positioning to be a serious player in the mobile consumer market.

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By RaynorWolfcastle on 5/29/2008 7:53:37 AM , Rating: 3
Cut & paste from my post at Engadget:

"You know, this thing isn't really competing with the single-core Atom head-to-head. According to Intel's docs, the 1.86 GHz Atom Z540 has a TDP of 2.4W (+200mW for Hyperthreading), that's roughly half the consumption of even the U2300.

If dual core Atom processors have an 8W TDP as projected, Isaiah would really be competing with the dual-core Atom part. Also, at 25W consider that Isaiah has a higher TDP than the MacBook Air's Core 2 Duo processor (20W TDP) and Intel's LV C2D (17W TDP) and ULV C2D (10W TDP).

All I'm saying is that the single-core Isaiah had better be packing some serious performance if it wants to take Intel head-to-head in the 8W+ TDP game."

By Brandon Hill on 5/29/2008 8:03:40 AM , Rating: 2
I talked to VIA early last week before the announcement of the OpenBook. THEY are comparing the Isaiah to the Atom and are saying that it will be a bit faster clock for clock.

By RaynorWolfcastle on 5/29/2008 8:15:27 AM , Rating: 2
As another poster said, it had damn well better be faster since it uses quite a bit more power (5W vs 2.6W) and is much bigger (~63mm^2 vs ~25 mm^2).

As I said in my other post, it will be much more interesting to see how a single core low-power Isaiah, competes with a dual-core Atom. I suspect the dual-core Atom will be much more attractive...

By Brandon Hill on 5/29/2008 8:23:01 AM , Rating: 2
Z-Series Atoms are Silverthorne-based processor (13mm^2) destined for MIDs.

The Atom which will be used in the Dell, ASUS, and MSI notebooks is a N-Series Diamondville processor (N230 at 1.6GHz) and is 22mmm^2. That processor is rated at 4W at 1.6GHz.

By paydirt on 5/29/2008 9:08:39 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe I'm an idiot, but isn't TDP not 100% electricity? TDP has to do with heat dissipation, not power usage. Or are power usage and watt ratings for TDP the same on low power chips? Wiki TDP y'all.

By ChronoReverse on 5/29/2008 11:19:50 AM , Rating: 2
Power usage is practically (meaning in practice) the same as thermal dissipation.

The power used by a CPU has to come out somewhere and that's heat.

By IntelUser2000 on 5/29/2008 9:54:50 PM , Rating: 2
Z-Series Atoms are Silverthorne-based processor (13mm^2) destined for MIDs.

He's talking about the die size, which is the size of the ACTUAL CPU CORE not the package size, which you are quoting. Aren't you the editor for Dailytech??

By psychobriggsy on 5/29/2008 9:29:32 AM , Rating: 2
Bigger? The die maybe, although it is being made on a cheaper 65nm process (I expect).

The package? VIA's is 22mm by 22mm, and they say they will have an 11mm by 11mm package later this year. Atom is 13mm by 14mm *for MIDs*, but 22mm by 22mm for desktops.

Of course VIA will use their single chip VX800 chipset with Nano, which will save real estate over Intel's two-chip chipsets as well. Intel don't have a non-MID single-chip chipset - Paulsbo notwithstanding.

By Cygni on 5/29/2008 11:24:22 AM , Rating: 2
Yea, thats totally incorrect.

By psychobriggsy on 5/29/2008 12:15:16 PM , Rating: 2
But the chipset power usage does matter, it's just as important as the CPU power usage. This could be where VIA redeem themselves. And packaging size is important, because it allows smaller devices, or your new small laptop might now have space for an ExpressCard slot.

By psychobriggsy on 5/29/2008 9:25:43 AM , Rating: 2
It comes down to a few things.

1) Availability. Atom might be constrained for a long time.

2) Price. Atom + Chipset bundles ramp up in price considerably.

3) System power consumption. Paulsbo is an 8W chipset. i945 uses even more. If VIA's bundled chipset uses less then it's a wash.

Isaiah uses 100mW at idle, which is very competitive. If average power consumption can be kept low then battery life may not be affected (or even be positive over an Atom system) and thus this chip is very desirable.

I'm surprised that the power consumption ramps up so quickly above 1.3GHz. I read elsewhere that the TDP measurements were given to match with existing C7 TDP measurements, as Isaiah is meant to be a drop-in replacement.

However it is VIA, so they will do something braindead.

By Mitch101 on 5/29/2008 11:20:06 AM , Rating: 2
Being that these CPU run on such little power the battle might come down to the Mobo's needed to run them.

ATOM is being released to the public next week. Tuesday I believe. The CPU will cost $25.00 in bulk. A CPU and Mobo is expected to cost around $58.00 last I heard.

For me it may come down to which one is more car friendly. The most expensive part will be the touch screen.

By psychobriggsy on 5/29/2008 12:22:02 PM , Rating: 2
I had read that an Atom + Paulsbo would cost from $45 to $160. Yes, just checked online.

Diamondville will cost from $29 for the CPU, but there's a chipset on top to consider - most likely an i945 variant.

So what will VIA charge for Nano + VX800(U) ?

By Mitch101 on 5/29/2008 12:40:10 PM , Rating: 2
$79.95 available June 6th.

Intel D945GCLF Mini-ITX Motherboard (Out of Stock)

Intel D945GCLF Mini-ITX Motherboard + integrated Atom 1.6Ghz CPU
- Intel Atom 230 @ 1x 1.60GHz (Diamondville CPU 45nm)
- 4x Rear USB 2.0
- VGA, Serial and Parallel
- 1x DDR2 533/667 RAM
- Realtek High Definition Audio
- Recommended: picoPSU-90

- arriving date: 06 June 2008, pre-order now!

Im going to wait until more places have them in stock. Sure the price will drop a little soon enough.

Havent heard what Via will charge but given they don't have the 45nm manufacturing and the chip might be a little larger well I don't think that leaves much room for profit. VIA's days might be numbered. Haven't seen many people picking up Mobo's with their chipsets in a while.

By IntelUser2000 on 5/29/2008 9:53:48 PM , Rating: 2
3) System power consumption. Paulsbo is an 8W chipset. i945 uses even more. If VIA's bundled chipset uses less then it's a wash.

RESEARCH before posting please. First of all, its Poulsbo not Paulsbo. And Poulsbo is 1.6-2.3W TDP depending on configuration.

By zolo111 on 5/29/2008 9:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't AMD enter this market!!!! It seems like a money maker, and I don't see AMD releasing any news about entering this market for some odd reason. I mean if VIA can do it, why can't AMD make chips like these? They need to get off thier lazy asses!!

By vignyan on 5/29/2008 10:01:40 AM , Rating: 2
just an update:

Intel had its least TDP at 5.5W for C2S (single core core2)...

By psychobriggsy on 5/29/2008 12:12:56 PM , Rating: 2
I just checked, and VIA's VX800U chipset has a TDP of 3.5W and supports 4GB of memory, DX9 graphics, HD Audio, etc.

What's Intel's equivalent?

By christianspoer on 5/29/2008 7:56:28 AM , Rating: 2
The ultra low voltage lineup will consist of the 1.3GHz Nano U2400 (8W), 1.2GHz U2500 (6.8W), and the 1.0GHz U23000 (5W).

Something doesn't seem right here...

RE: Naming?
By squeezee on 5/29/2008 8:13:50 AM , Rating: 5
Their out-of-order processing scheme is so advanced it extends to product numbers.

RE: Naming?
By icrf on 5/29/2008 8:38:05 AM , Rating: 2
awesome :D

RE: Naming?
By HaZaRd2K6 on 5/29/2008 12:10:51 PM , Rating: 2
It seems someone went in and edited it, but it still doesn't look right:

1.3GHz Nano U2300 (8W), 1.2GHz U2500 (6.8W), and the 1.0GHz U24000 (5W).

good news
By jithvk on 5/29/2008 7:36:06 AM , Rating: 2
its good news that at least some one will be there to compete with Intel when AMD is out of the game ( which i think is not that far). VIA is like the pre-Athlon AMD now. Many people dont even know abt that brand. Hope this nano will change that.

RE: good news
By Oregonian2 on 5/29/2008 3:17:09 PM , Rating: 2
Ones who have been around for a few years know VIA very well. They were the ones who made very popular (back then) motherboard chipsets that had more bugs than one could possibly imagine (at least their AMD chipsets). Once nVidia made board chipsets, VIA was toast.

RE: good news
By Mr Perfect on 5/29/2008 8:44:02 PM , Rating: 3
Do you think we'll have to wait for the "A" version of the Nano before it works correctly? :D

RE: good news
By Oregonian2 on 5/30/2008 7:09:17 PM , Rating: 2
If it's like their chipsets, they'll never work right. :D

This versus Atom
By pauldovi on 5/29/2008 7:52:00 AM , Rating: 2
This better be quite a bit faster than the Atom, because it uses quite a bit more power.

RE: This versus Atom
By ChronoReverse on 5/29/2008 11:23:28 AM , Rating: 2
It's not even that. It's faster "Clock For Clock".

But the Atom was designed to have lower IPC and a higher design frequency (this is actually to increase Performance Per Watt).

So the comparison is ridiculous. What they should be comparing is either:

(1) Absolute performance
(2) Performance per watt

RE: This versus Atom
By ElFenix on 5/29/2008 5:08:32 PM , Rating: 2
TDP is not typical draw.

To all TDP worshippers ...
By Kiijibari on 5/29/2008 10:54:22 AM , Rating: 2
VIAs and Intels TDPs cant be compared 1:1, they are calculated differently.

add this to the things already mentioned by others:
- mediocre Intel chipset which terrible power consumption
- usage of Atom N chips instead of the power saving Atom Z series

then you will not have much wattage difference in the end ...




The TDP specification should be used to design the processor thermal solution. TDP is not the maximum theoretical power the processor can generate.
(Footnote 3 at last page)
Initial production versions of the 1.0GHz VIA Nano ULV processor will have a maximum Thermal Design Power (TDP max) of just 5 watts (idle power of a mere 100mW), scaling up to 25 watts for the 1.8GHz VIA Nano processor with 500mW idle power.

RE: To all TDP worshippers ...
By defter on 5/29/2008 12:43:32 PM , Rating: 2
Your quotes do not support your claim. Don't confuse "maximum TDP" with "maximum power consumption".

Actually, in order for TDP to be a meaningful value, every TDP is the "maximum TDP".

By psychobriggsy on 5/29/2008 12:58:51 PM , Rating: 2
That's the problem.

Intel use a figure which is the highest the chip can get to under a thermal virus type scenario.

Other manufacturers use Volts * Amps, which turns out to be around 25% higher.

It doesn't matter because in a month or two someone will have stuck some systems on a Wattmeter and we'll know.

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