Via Announces 1-Watt Processor for Mobile Devices

Via Technologies Inc. has developed a processor that consumes a maximum of 1 watt of power and is intended for use in mobile devices and embedded applications.

The latest Eden ULV chip was announced on Thursday at the Embedded Systems Conference in Taipei, where customers showed off systems based on the chip. Previously, the lowest power chip in the Eden lineup was the 1GHz Eden ULV, which consumes a maximum of 3.5 watts. The 500MHz version consumes 0.1 watt of power in idle mode.

Like other Via processors, the 500MHz Eden ULV processor is based on the same x86 instruction set found in CPUs from Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and is capable of running Windows or Linux. But instead of desktop PCs or laptops, the new chip is intended for embedded applications, like point-of-sales systems, thin-client computers, set-top boxes, and security systems.

The chip uses the same Esther processor core found in Via's line of C7 processors.

The latest Eden ULV chip, which is manufactured using a 90-nanometer process, is paired with Via's CX700 chipset, which combines both the Northbridge and Southbridge chips inside a single package to conserve space in a computer. The CX700 consumes up to 3.5 watts, but system makers can reduce this by disabling some of the chipset's functions, such as USB ports or the SATA interface for hard drives.

Via, which is a distant third in the CPU market behind Intel and AMD, has long championed the development of cheap, low-power processors that can operate without elaborate heatsinks or fans. These chips allow hardware makers to build devices that are smaller, quieter, and cost less than most PCs.

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