VIA C3 Processors Finding Success in Asia

By Van Smith

Date: September 18, 2001

Taiwanese chip firm VIA Technologies is finding success moving its Centaur designed CPUs in Asia and other emerging markets.  Reportedly these parts are selling as fast as they can be produced.

The commoditization of the microprocessor is a trend that VIA recognized several years ago before the acquisition of American CPU firms Centaur and Cyrix.  As prices for MPUs have plummeted and margins have thinned in the last two years, this foresight appears to have been timely.

Targeting emerging markets where price is most critical, VIA has been successful in providing cost effective computing solutions.  Particularly popular are embedded C3 parts affixed to motherboards utilizing a type of ball grid array.  Currently a motherboard with embedded graphics, sound and CPU can be purchased for less than the cost of a motherboard alone for other chips from rivals Intel and AMD.

And market penetration is not limited to emerging markets.  As the sun sets on Transmeta and rises on VIA, the Japanese now appear to be aware that the C3 delivers on all of the promises that Transmeta's Crusoe made, but did not meet.  The C3 is cheap, consumes very little power and has better application performance than its much-hyped rival.

The VIA-Centaur C3 is sold out at this shop in Japan's famous Akihabara district.

One market segment where the C3 is making waves is in so-called "dense" computing servers.  In a "dense" or even "ultra-dense" computing environment, the goal is to pack as many CPUs into a given space as possible.  Under such circumstances, low power consumption is keenly important since thermal management becomes an overriding concern.

In an independent study completed recently, C3 servers delivered about 40% greater integer computing power per Watt than comparable Intel Pentium III servers and approximately 350% greater I/O performance per Watt in disk bound tasks such as in file servers and Web servers where there is little backend processing.