VIA Nano

Intel Atom
Intel's Atom gets some competition

Intel's Atom processor has become the darling of netbook manufacturers. The 45nm processor is used in a number of netbook designs ranging from the Eee PC 901/1000h to the MSI Wind.

Intel, however, is not alone in its quest to provide low-power, low-cost processor for mobile and desktop use. VIA is also throwing its hat into the ring with its 65nm Nano processor. VIA officially announced its Nano in late May of this year and promised parts ranging in speed from 800MHz on up to 1.8GHz.

Preliminary benchmarks provided by VIA showed the Nano outpacing Intel's Atom in many benchmarks -- today, PC Perspective and Hot Hardware put those claims to the test.

Both sites took an Intel Atom 230 (1.6GHz) processor paired with an Intel BOXD945GCLF motherboard and pitted it against a VIA Nano L2100 (1.8GHz) processor with a VIA Nano Reference Motherboard.

Although the VIA Nano was clocked 12.5% higher than the Intel Atom used in both site's testing, Hot Hardware found that the Nano was anywhere from 15% to 20% faster than the Atom. In many cases, the delta between the two was much greater in the Nano's favor. PC Perspective also found that under load, however, the difference in power consumption between the two processors was 17 watts with the Atom having the upper hand. Both sites came away impressed with VIA's Nano platform and its openness compared to the relative closed Intel Atom platform.

"Vendors are not allowed to build Atom motherboards with PCI Express, digital video outputs or more than one memory slot," said PC Perspective. "VIA on the other hand is openly courting board manufacturers to put as much technology on a mini-ITX design as they can - as long as they DO build one."

VIA sees the Nano processor as its ticket to success while Intel appears to fear Atom will cannibalize its Celeron sales."

"It's clear from our limited testing of the VIA Nano that the company has a strong product at the ready," added Hot Hardware. "Virtually across the board, the Nano showed good performance versus its primary competition, and it has a number of other things going for it as well, like pin-compatibility with the established C7 core, an open platform, and hardware acceleration for certain types of encryption."

It will be interesting to see how much support VIA gets from OEMs with its Nano processor. OEMs which choose to use VIA's OpenBook reference design will no doubt take advantage of the new chip and HP might just throw out the VIA C7-M currently residing in the 2133 Mini-Note PC in favor of the Nano.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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