VIA announces new Nano chip

November 4, 2009 | 11:30

Tags: #atom #low-power-cpu #n270 #nano #netbook #processor #via-nano

Companies: #intel #via

Chip maker VIA has announced the latest revision of its low-power Nano processor in an attempt to unseat Intel's Atom chip from its position as the de-facto netbook processor.

As reported over on jkOnTheRun, the Nano 3000 - for that is its name - is a double-whammy of an improvement over its predecessor, managing to offer a 20 per cent boost in performance while increasing power efficiency by a further 20 per cent.

The processor - which will be available in a wide range of speeds - 1GHz, 1.2GHz, 1.3GHz, 1.4GHz, 1.8GHz, and 2GHz, all with an 800MHz bus speed - ticks all the boxes required of a modern chip for an ultra-portable: SSE4 support, virtualisation, full 64-bit OS support, and it's even powerful enough to decode 1080p video.

While it's nice that the new Nano is an improvement over older releases, what people really want to see is how it stacks up over Intel's popular Atom N270 - and the news isn't looking good for Intel. On a pair of popular benchmarks - PCMark 05 and 3DMark2006 - the Nano 3000 scored 43 per cent and 49 per cent higher than Intel's Atom N270.

While VIA has announced the power consumption of the chips while idle - ranging from 100mW to 500mW on the 1.8GHz and 2GHz L3050 and L3100 models - it hasn't yet provided any firm details on maximum power draw, which could be the characteristic which sees it lose out to the Atom. That said, if VIA can keep the power consumption down, Intel could have a real fight on its hands for the lucrative netbook market.

The Nano 3000 series of processors is due early next year, although VIA has yet to confirm pricing details.

Do you think it's about time that Intel got some competition in the low-power x86 marketplace, or should netbook manufacturers make the leap to ARM for real gains in battery life? Share your thoughts over in the forum.
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