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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