VIA Produces Low-Power Quad Processor - InformationWeek
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5/12/2011
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VIA Produces Low-Power Quad Processor

The QuadCore, which is aimed at mainstream laptops and desktops, runs at 1.2 GHz and uses about 27.5 watts of power.

VIA Technologies on Thursday announced its first quad-core processor, which the company says is the "lowest power quad core processor on the market today."

The VIA QuadCore processor, which is aimed at mainstream laptops and desktops, runs at 1.2 GHz and uses about 27.5 watts of power, the company said.

"As a result of the rapid proliferation of high-definition multimedia content and increasingly demanding multithreaded applications, a four-core processor is the new baseline for today's mainstream PC user," said Epan Wu, head of processor platforms at VIA, in a release. "The VIA QuadCore processor meets that need with the industry's most power-efficient architecture."

Intel and Advanced Micro Devices both have dual-core processors used in mainstream PCs, but they are primarily for high-end computers that rely on graphic-intensive video games. When Intel released its dual-core Atom processor for netbooks last year, it noted that the chip was more responsive with games and power-hungry Adobe Flash technology used as the front end on e-commerce sites, such as online hotel booking systems.

However, even with an energy-efficient chip, VIA has an uphill battle with rivals Intel and AMD. Via holds about 0.2% of the world's semiconductor market, while Intel holds 80.8% and AMD has 18.9%, according to market research firm International Data Corp. Another competitor will come from ARM, whose low-power chips are featured in smartphones and tablets but are expected to infiltrate the PC market by as much as 13 percent by 2015, IDC predicts.

"My forecast about PC processors touches on ARM's potential entry into the PC processor space, which will become larger in view of Microsoft's decision to support ARM architecture in the next version of Windows," said Shane Rau, director of PC semiconductors at IDC, in a previous interview.

Worldwide shipments of PC microprocessors are expected to surge by 10.3% this year, and market revenue is expected to grow 17.6% to nearly $43 billion, according to IDC. In the mobile PC processor segment for the first quarter of 2011, Intel had an 86% market share, a gain of 0.2%, while AMD finished with 13.4%, a loss of 0.1%. VIA earned 0.3%. Intel held a 93.9% market share in the PC server/workstation processor segment, with a loss of 0.3%, and AMD earned 6.1%, a gain of 0.3%.

The VIA 40nm QuadCore processors combine four "Isaiah" cores on two dies, which VIA says offers enhanced multitasking and multimedia performance on a low-power budget. They also feature adaptive overclocking, 4 MB of L2 cache, and a 1,333-MHz V4 bus. Other features include efficient floating point unit (2 clock SP multiplies), native support for 64-bit operating systems, hardware virtualization support, and Advanced Encryption Standard hardware security features.

The new chip will be displayed at the Computex convention in Taiwan from May 31 to June 4 and will begin shipping in the third quarter.

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