VIA Debuts Low Power Mobile CPU

VIA Technologies showed off the latest iteration of its x86-compatible CPU for notebook computers at the Computex 2005 trade show in Taiwan this week, touting the chip’s low power requirements.

Primarily a chipset vendor, VIA is far behind AMD and Intel in processor shipments. However, the company is pitching its new C7-M ( for “mobile”) CPU as a perfect fit for low-cost, lightweight notebook computers, due to the new chip’s small size and low power consumption.

The C7-M is significantly less than an inch square and doesn’t require a raised socket, allowing for slimmer notebook designs, according to company statements. Additionally, the C7-M has extremely low power consumption, largely because of its ability to automatically adjust processor speeds depending on what the computer is being used for at the moment.

In fact, VIA claims that the C7-M will consume just 20 watts running at 2 GHz, with an average consumption of just one watt overall. (Initial CPUs will only run at 1.5 GHz maximum, however.) Besides longer battery life, another important benefit is that lower power requirements translate into cooler performance – as much as 40 percent cooler than competitors, as well as lighter weight, the company claims.

The C7-M is manufactured using the latest 90 nanometer silicon-on-insulator technologies. Founded in 1987, Taipei, Taiwan-based VIA is a so-called “fabless” chip designer and vendor -- having third parties do the manufacturing and thus bearing the multi-billion dollar costs of constructing a state-of-the-art wafer fab facility. VIA announced last year that IBM will manufacture the chips in its 300mm (12 inch) fab in East Fishkill, New York.

VIA’s product lines encompass core logic chipsets and CPUs, as well as chipsets for multimedia, networking, and storage, according to company statements. The C7-M is currently in sampling. Volume shipments of the C7-M will begin at the end of the month, the company says.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.