Platform Conference Wrap Up
By: Van Smith
Date: February 5, 2002
New VIA Chipsets
Taiwanese chipset giant VIA Technologies had a very large presence at Platform Conference. As it seeks to grow its core business, several new chipset products were displayed.
The Pentium 4 is at a distinct disadvantage to the Athlon XP in regards to currently available core logic offering integrated video. VIA hopes to step into this void by integrating an S3 ProSavage8 into an undated P4X266 package. This new chipset is marketed as the "P4M266."
The VIA P4M266
Both DDR SDRAM and older SDRAM are supported by the P4M266. This new chipset can easily be migrated to existing motherboard designs since it is pin compatible with the P4X266. Available South Bridges include such features as 3Com networking, ATA133, and USB 2.0 (6 ports) support.
With 2.1GB/s bandwidth, the P4M266 should be able to deliver credible 3D gaming well beyond what older SDRAM-based integrated chipsets can provide.
VIA also showed off its next generation Athlon XP chipset, the KT333. However, it appears now that VIA might bypass this asynchronous device for the much better performing KT333A that will keep the CPU's front side bus (FSB) and memory in lockstep at 333MHz.
A VIA KT333 will fully populated DDR SDRAM DIMM slots.
Showing off a bevy of notebook wins, for the last few years S3 has been solely a designer of integrated graphics cores embedded in VIA chipsets. However, the former leader in the discrete graphic controller market is now on its way back to producing video cards as well.
We will follow up with more information on upcoming S3 products in the months ahead.
CPUs a Growing VIA Priority
Despite our vantage point at Centaur, we were surprised to see the level of emphasis VIA was placing on its CPU business. VIA C3s and Edens were everywhere. Below is an Eden platform running without a fan -- and even without ducted cooling.
Pretty cool processing...
Consuming so little power, VIA's processors are especially well suited for silent-running entertainment devices such as the set-top box below.
VIA C3 set-top box reference design.
Some of the C3-based motherboards were tiny. Note the ink pen at the top of the picture below.
The VIA C3's first notebook win is the attractive iBuddy. This "portable desktop" sells for well under $1000.
The iBuddy is based on the VIA C3.
Embedded is big with VIA's CPUs. Below you can see a VIA processor-powered web pad with a wireless keyboard.
An embedded C3 powers a wireless web pad.
Maxtor and VIA
VIA has had very good integrated IDE performance for quite a while. Maxtor demonstrated ATA133 performance on a VIA VT8233A (South Bridge) equipped 900 MHz Athlon system. As you can see, the peak rate is impressively high around 114 MB/s. Since VIA's integrated IDE controllers do not reside on the PCI bus, with VIA's newer chipsets full PCI throughput remains available even under heavy IDE load thanks to V-Link, the chipset maker's high-speed, low pin count interconnect.
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