Via debuts low-heat, low-power chips

Via Technologies has unveiled a line of low-power, low-heat processors for embedded applications such as set-top boxes and...

Via Technologies has unveiled a line of low-power, low-heat processors for embedded applications such as set-top boxes and information appliances.

Called Eden, the line of embedded processors is based on an x86 processor core and does not require a fan to dissipate heat. By comparison, most other x86 processors require a large heatsink and fan to dissipate the heat that is generated by the processor.

"All along Via always emphasised that we want to go this low power consumption and low heat dissipation [route]," Wenchi Chen, the company's chief executive and president, said. "We've been putting a lot of effort in this."

The four Eden chips announced by Via - the VE1400, VE1500, VE2400 and VE2500 - all incorporate 192Kb of on-chip cache and require an operating voltage of between 1.05 volts and 1.2 volts. The chips are based on a modified version of the x86 processor core used in Via's C3 processor. The company, however, was not willing to disclose the specific clock speeds of the Eden chips.

"We know the PC industry has all along [focused on] the megahertz," Chen said. "We don't think the megahertz really reflects the performance of the product anymore. We really want to see how the [finished] product works," he said.

The entry-level VE1400 and VE1500 are designed for use in applications such as thin clients, set-top boxes and routers. The VE2400 and VE2500 are intended for these applications as well as Web pads, Tablet PCs and electronic books, according to Paul Hsu, special assistant to the president at Via.

During the first quarter of next year, Via will release the VE1600 and VE 2600. Later in the year, Via will add two other products, Hsu said. The VE3x00 is scheduled to ship in the second quarter and is designed for use in dense servers. The VE4x00 will hit the market during the third quarter and offers enhanced MPEG2 and MPEG4 features as well as support for faster DDR SDRAM (double data rate synchronous dynamic RAM).

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