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New VIA x86 CPU Takes Aim At Intel Silverthorne 114

Posted by kdawson
from the chipping-away-at-the-prophet-margin dept.
Kaz writes "While not operating on the same scale as the two major CPU designers, VIA has been gaining traction in the world of UMPCs and thin clients with its Eden and C7 lines of processors. While past architectures have been considerably out-of-date in terms of modern features, the new Isaiah architecture looks to be very competitive with what AMD and Intel have lined up for future ultra-mobile products. It features an out-of-order, superscalar execution core, 64-bit support, virtualization, and even SSE3 — all on a 94M-transistor, 65nm process die. The initial offering will be single-core only, though VIA says that multi-core ability is already designed in. Is Isaiah going to replace your Core 2 system for gaming? No, but it might give Intel's Silverthorne a run for the money."
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New VIA x86 CPU Takes Aim At Intel Silverthorne

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  • Follow The Trend (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dsginter (104154) on Friday January 25, 2008 @01:58PM (#22184058)
    The next big step in integration is integrated memory. Cache memories are consuming most of the die in your typical high-performance CPU, these days. If you can find a CMOS-compatible, high-density (e.g. - SRAM's six transistors per cell is toooo big) memory technology, then we're going to be at the point where we can simply replace the cache memory with on-board memory. If said on-chip memory technology is nonvolatile, then we're talking panacea cakes, batman.

    Naturally, this will first occur in low-performance devices where huge amounts of memory are not necessary. Then, it will work its way into the PC and up from there.

    This is why Intel is divesting itself of discrete memory technologies - they don't want to be holding the bag when they're obsoleted by on-chip memory.

    SPU manufacturers had better be ready for this because discrete CPUs will be going the way of the horse and buggy if anyone can ever do such a thing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by MBCook (132727)

      For those who don't know, this is a troll. The CPU is way faster than RAM. Replacing the cache (which is large physically compared to RAM) with normal DRAM would be a disaster for performance. Go look at the original Celeron, then remember that this chip is even faster than that.

      This is like saying cars will soon move back to steam, starting with small cars, because steam engines don't need large refineries to refine the oil. Technically correct on one point, but ignores lots of reality that would complete

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by maxwell demon (590494)
        I re-read the post you replied to several times, but couldn't find the place where it advocated replacing the cache memory with DRAM. Instead it was about new memory technology yet to be found. Here's the relevant quote, with emphasis by me:

        "If you can find a CMOS-compatible, high-density (e.g. - SRAM's six transistors per cell is toooo big) memory technology, then we're going to be at the point where we can simply replace the cache memory with on-board memory. If said on-chip memory technology is nonvolati
        • The reason why they use cache ram is for its stupidly fast speed.

          The speed increases with physical size. You simply cant fit too much cache ram on to a cpu's die.
          A alternative is to use slower ram but that slows down the entire computer.

          Plus it would be stupid to have to replace your CPU to upgrade your ram.
          • by Daengbo (523424)
            Quote from my father:
            "It would be silly to replace a whole bank of vacuum tubes when only one is busted."
            Technology moves on. People rarely repair mobos. They don't upgrade their northbridge chips. Once it becomes economically advantageous, we'll see SoCs with integrated RAM for every consumer computer. Count on it.
          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            However, the GameCube used 24 MB of SRAM along with regular RAM. I think this let it achieve much faster processing than would normally be possible with just the chip it had.
      • Re:Follow The Trend (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Waffle Iron (339739) on Friday January 25, 2008 @03:32PM (#22185452)

        The CPU is way faster than RAM.Replacing the cache (which is large physically compared to RAM) with normal DRAM would be a disaster for performance.

        That doesn't necessarily matter if the DRAM were freed of external pin packaging constraints. For example, imagine if the CPU had an SRAM L1 cache, no L2 cache and on-chip DRAM main memory. With DRAM, you can internally access an entire row at one time. Using row-wide access, you could fill entire virtual memory pages into the L1 cache in a single RAM cycle.

        Getting the most out of such a setup might require changes to the way the memory and cache have been managed for the last 20 years, but the total potential bandwith available from on-chip DRAM could be staggering.

    • RAM is tricky, some users need very little, others need a lot (even with the same processor requirements). Plus, there are soooo many transistors that it's cost inefficient to use the top-end manufacturing for bulk jobs like RAM.

      GPU's on the other hand are fairly constant in requirements. Once it can handle HDTV, it'll be good for a lot of low and medium end use - more than 90% of users, IMHO.

      It's inevitable... when's the last time you bought a Floating Point Processor? Every PC needed to do FP, so it go
    • by dhart (1261) *
      Z-RAM [wikipedia.org] - "zero capacitor RAM" uses only a single transistor but performance is similar to the standard six-transistor SRAM cell used in cache memory.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by imroy (755)

      Cache memories are consuming most of the die in your typical high-performance CPU, these days.

      On single-threaded CPU's, perhaps. But look at the Sun UltraSPARC T1 [wikipedia.org] and T2. They are multithreaded - each core rotates between up to four threads on each clock cycle. When a cache miss occurs, it simply pulls the affected thread from rotation and continues with the remaining threads while fetching the data in the background. This means cache misses have a much smaller impact on performance than they do on single-

  • Sorry, brother. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Friday January 25, 2008 @02:03PM (#22184110)
    "The current C7 processor is a sub 20 watt product.."

    Then if I read right they go on to say Isaiah will be similar. Sorry, but that's not even in the same league as Silverthorn. Silverthorn will be more like a sub 5 watt product. If this is right, they'll be competing against Core 2 processors and performance won't even be close.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by glop (181086)
      Google says:
      Support VIA C7 @ 1.5 GHz D (TDP 25 W). VIA C7 @ 1.5 GHz (TDP 12 W). VIA C7 @ 1.3 GHz (TDP ... VIA C7 @ 1.2 GHz LV (TDP 7 W). VIA C7 @ 1.0 GHz LV (TDP 5 W)

      So the C7 can be a 5W part too. Which is not too bad for a 1GHz CPU.

      I guess the ISAIAH will have such a version too. Sounds interesting, doesn't it?
      • Yeah, but Silverthorn will probably _top out_ at 4-5W. Plus, my guess is it will perform more like the higher wattage C7 parts, or possibly better. Comparisons I've heard are to a 1.3GHz Pentium M. C7 high ends don't perform that well, much less the low voltage parts.

        No, C7 will compete against LV/ULV Core 2 parts, not Silverthorn. And they'll compete badly like they always have. There's a niche for them because Via makes some nice form factor MB's, but I don't see them being super competitive all of

        • by bhtooefr (649901)
          Except Silverthorne's architecture is a lot like the C7's, and Isaiah (which is what we're discussing) is a lot like the Core 2.
        • Re:Sorry, brother. (Score:5, Informative)

          by RingDev (879105) on Friday January 25, 2008 @02:49PM (#22184834) Homepage Journal
          VIA's Pico-ITX full systems (not just the chip) have already by clocked at 14w idle, 16w max in pre-release reviews from 6 months ago. The previous generation C7s can easily be throttled back to stay at 5w on the proc as needed. I'm not sure if such functionality is available on the new Pico systems though.

          Intel is "shooting for" a 5w processor (no clarification if this is max load, or idle) in 2010.

          VIA's Pico-ITX is already available at 1ghz, and the previous generation C7's are available up to 2ghz.

          Intel's Silverthorne processor is also aiming for the Pentium M era performance (900mhz - 2.3ghz).

          Yes, the initial Silverthorne release is slated for Q1-Q2 2008, but the performance goals you mentioned aren't slated until 2010. So what I'm saying here, is that you can already buy everything that Intel is "shooting for" 2 years before they plan on reaching those goals. With all likelihood, the 2008 release of the Silverthorne will be a 1ghz proc sucking down 20w at peak. Which will put it right in competitive range of the C7 and new Pico-ITX.

          -Rick
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            As someone who has worked on Silverthorne for the past couple of years, you will be very pleasantly surprised as to how fast and how low power it will be. If you are expecting 1GHz and 20Watts, you are in for a huge surprise. You are in for an even larger surprise to see the idle power. There were many Silverthorne based mobile internet devices showcased at CES, and those developers can testify to the power and performance that they are seeing with actual silicon. Cheers!
          • Re:Sorry, brother. (Score:5, Informative)

            by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Friday January 25, 2008 @05:27PM (#22187126)
            You're full of it. Silverthorne is due for Q1-Q2 2008, 1-2 watts, and Pentium 3 performance circa 2004 (which still puts it well ahead of what Via is doing anywhere within 10x that much wattage).

            My first clue you were full of crap was this: "Silverthorne will be a 1ghz proc sucking down 20w at peak". I'm not sure if you pay attention, but Intel has Core 2 Solo chips running at 1.06/1.2Ghz that peak at 5.5 watts. Silverthorne is a 45nm chip running on a simplified core-2-esque march, and you're making this ridiculous claim that it will "suck down" 20w at peak.

            Seriously, 2006 called, it wants its news back.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by RingDev (879105)
              That's fine that you feel that way. Now show me a news report, white paper, press release, or ANYTHING that backs those numbers up.

              The only press release that I could find that had actual numbers on it said that 5w was the goal of the product line by 2010. So if you have something better to go by than armchair techno-forecasting, please, go ahead and post it.

              -Rick
              • If you go to this link: http://www.intel.com/design/intarch/celeronm/celeronm.htm [intel.com] there are PDFs at the bottom of the page that detail two 1GHZ processors one at 90nm / 512K Cache and one at 65nm / 1MB Cache both have 5.5W TDP. I have the 90nm version infront of me on a Kontron ETX board, ie something shipping right now. However once you factor in the chipset and memory power requirements its more like 13W at load. 5.5W for 2010 is most likely for a cpu+chipset+memory combo.
            • by Daengbo (523424)
              Just curious what the relative street prices of these are (Isaiah and Silverthorne). Are they going to be the same? If they aren't, there's very little point in comparing the two. ;) VIA has carved a good niche for itself in this area because they produce low power, small-form computers at a price significantly lower than comparable products. I don't expect Isaiah to break that tradition.

              AMD has had a similar market with its Geode SoCs. It's a market. People want it. You don't need to run it on your corpo
              • Not sure, there. My guess is they'll be competitively priced. If anything, Silverthorne will be cheaper to manufacture due to being on a smaller process, but how that reflects on street price is anybody's guess.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by hairyfeet (841228)
          Yes, you might be right about pure performance, but I think you might be missing a big advantage with the Via. With the hype and fear of lawsuits caused from data breaches security is becoming an ever increasing concern, especially from a business standpoint. If this Via continues the tradition of its predecessors with its fast on-board cryptography this chip might be very appealing for business laptops and other small devices where data security is of high concern.

          And after I RTFA it does have the on-b

        • I have actually been using a c7 1.2 and it performs well- I have a wibrain b1h- the big thing that i have noticed is that though raw processing is decent (I haven't had any major issues yet and I have been doing a lot of audio, video and 3d on the fly with it-) performance is similar to my old p4 2.8, but my umpc fits in the palm of my hand for god's sake)the big thing that via did that was smart was integrate on the board an on board via 8x agp gpu that swaps cycles and has a base of 64 megs of acceleratio
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      I think Via provided a nice concept, but that's not enough. Given how people here, elsewhere, and including myself, had had a string of troubles with Via hardware over the years, I'm not interested in using their products unless there is no sufficient alternative for the given need.
      • id be curious to see, market wise, if your competition is so bad you can demand a higher price (versus having no competition) for your product because your only competition is so dismal that its clear youre the only person/company who has a clue.
        • by arivanov (12034)
          The answer is yes.

          Via charges for its i-Dot which is a mini-ATX system 65 quid. Similar system in a mini-ITX format is 120+. Reasons aplenty: demand for ultrasmall systems for use in point of sale and home kit is consistently high and in the mini-ITX arena Via is king. There is no contest. Intel simply does not manage to fit into the TDP requirements of most enclosures. While there are mainboards around, nobody buys them.
      • Troll? Cute. It's not as if I'm making up hardware problems re: Via chips.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They misspoke then, the current Via will get 20 watts peak, if you include the systemboard. The processor (c7-d) is 10 watts of that. They have another processor (c7), at somewhat lower speed (1 ghz instead of 1.5), that runs on 2 watts or somesuch.

      Please note the 'peak' intel measures its wattage on averages, not peaks like AMD/VIA.
    • by Iberian (533067)
      The sub 20 watt is referring to peak power draw, under normal operationg conditions it will be 3-5 watts.
    • by Wdomburg (141264)
      Silverthorne is a new architecture, not a Core 2 processor. Rumour has it that it's a strictly in-order, two-issue device. Ironically that would put it much closer in implementation to the C7 chip that Isaiah supercedes.
  • I want a fully recharged UMPC after two minutes of Seiko Kinetic shaking, baby!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I want a fully recharged UMPC after two minutes of Seiko Kinetic shaking, baby!
      I think in your case, 30 seconds would probably be better. :-P
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by MacarooMac (1222684)
        What! And risk overheating my unit and suffering a premature installation?
        • Well, as long as a sufficient cooling lubricant were applied, it shouldn't be a problem.
          • What, like pour beer over the CPU- are you nuts? I'm not after one of those liquid-cooled gaming setups anyhow.
            I think you're one of those Boss fans who just likes to get the last word in.
    • by AvitarX (172628)
      Easy enough to do, put a really small battery in it.
  • "out of date"? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday January 25, 2008 @02:13PM (#22184282)

    While past architectures have been considerably out-of-date in terms of modern features

    They may not be bleeding edge, but their Eden processors used to compare very favorably to Intel's low-power chips, and have unique features like Padlock accelerated encryption (which is supported at least partially by the Linux kernel to accelerate cryptographic stuff.) Padlock made it possible to have a very low power VPN server..

    The only real problem I've had with the VIA processors has been availability, pricing, and cheesy 3rd party motherboards. Mini itx dot com for example wants to bend you over backwards for some pretty old systems; the latest stuff you practically need to take out a mortgage from. You can't really buy the boards from but a handful of places. VIA also seems to be ignoring the networking market (if they sold a low-power board with 3 gigabit ports, they'd put Soekris out of its misery once and for all- overnight.)

    Same thing with AMD's low-power Geode (which is plug-compatible with certain athlons.) You can't buy them anywhere except bundled with really shitty motherboards.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Sly-Guy (2100)
      Take a look at the newer VIA VB7001G board. It may be the C7-D processor, but from logicsupply dot com it is $123. Not a hugely cheap board, but quite nicely priced for a mini-ITX board. The only drawback is that some of the cases cost almost more than the M/B itself!

      Also the gOS boards are quite nice, though at micro-ATX are harder to fit in to a low power solution... I have two of these, one running my router with a dual Netflex-3 card (yeah I know, older 10/100, but I don't need any faster) and it ru
      • by bcrowell (177657)
        Also the gOS boards are quite nice, though at micro-ATX are harder to fit in to a low power solution.
        One of the things I appreciate about my daughter's gPC is that the power management stuff mostly works. That's a lot better than the typical experience I've had with Linux power management, where basically nothing works.
    • Check out the NAB-7400 / NAB-7500 from VIA... have all that sokeris can provide and then some. http://www.viatech.com.tw/en/products/mainboards/motherboards.jsp?motherboard_id=590 [viatech.com.tw] 7400 http://www.viatech.com.tw/en/products/mainboards/motherboards.jsp?motherboard_id=570 [viatech.com.tw] 7500
  • Memories (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tribbin (565963) on Friday January 25, 2008 @02:14PM (#22184312) Homepage
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Friday January 25, 2008 @02:15PM (#22184322)
    While the performance is pretty slow (Maybe 800 mhz PIII range), it's low power and low heat, which was what I desired. Email doesn't require much processing power, so why waste the electricity on a high performance machine?

    If they make a higher performance chip that get within the range of a Core 2, I'd consider buying one to replace my higher performance server in a few years. I hate paying for more electricity, and then paying to get rid of the waste heat. I'd even consider it for a workstation PC if the performance is good enough. Quiet fans are desirable to me, super-duper performance matters fairly little.
    • by DrSkwid (118965)
      800Mhz - juice hog !

      Detected 664.539 MHz processor.
      Memory: 195328k

      Though my EPIA is a 500Mhz fella and no fan too, I boot it from CF too so it's presence is hardly felt (until you switch the monitor on!).
    • by AvitarX (172628)
      I'd pay good money for a low energy CPU/MB that would match the performance of my midrange 3 year old computer (Socket 939 larger die 3500+) if it had HDMI-OUT (no need for the DRM, simply want to be able to send HD audio and video to my TV).

      For a small board with a low power CPU that could do that I'd pay $300-$400, and as soon as VIA gets there I will probably buy one. Though I am constantly temped to screw the low power and go with a shuttle solution. My current shuttle's power supply is too loud thoug
      • by KillerBob (217953)
        While it's not a VIA chipset, I built a media center system yesterday using the following:
        Mobo: ASUS M2A-VM HDMI
        CPU: AMD Athlon64 X2 3800+ AM2
        Case: Antec NSK1380

        It's about the same form factor as the Shuttle, it's low power with a certified 80Plus PSU, and it has the advantages of being upgradeable: you can replace the motherboard if you need to, and it takes a standard AM2 CPU, which is a lot easier to lay your hands on. Only one caveat: you don't have a lot of space to work with, so if you want to replace
        • by AvitarX (172628)

          Only one upgrade I'd strongly suggest: get a proper TV tuner.

          If something is on TV I can catch it. I am much more interested in not needing to burn my non-DRM downloaded movie "rentals" to a DVD-R to watch them. Also playing them hi-def would be nice. I can capture all the TV I want off a "rental" service, and with 32GB flash USB drives getting affordable I could probable make something boot off that and stream everything off the "rental server".

          Though MAME could be a lot of fun too.

          I also think we're talking completely different classes of "low power" though I c

          • by KillerBob (217953)
            Watching TV content isn't the reason to get a proper TV tuner. It's nice to have the computer running as a PVR, but the point is having a hardware MPEG decoder. TV tuners double as MPEG decoders. Having a good one in your system will significantly reduce the CPU load for watching your "rented" movies, allowing you to get away with a much weaker processor in the system. This, in turn, means you've got lower electricity requirements for the system, and less heat buildup, which means you don't need as beefy an
            • by AvitarX (172628)
              This is somewhat offtopic and probably not the appropriate venuw to ask at this point, but doesn't the graphics chip set act as an accelerator for the decoding?

              It never occurred to me to get a TV capture card for the sake of viewing, and if I was going to get one, it was going to be one of the LAN based ones with 2 tuners that I saw.
    • by tknd (979052) on Friday January 25, 2008 @03:13PM (#22185156)

      For a while I was on a mission to build a really power efficient PC. Unfortunately when I got my AC power meter, I learned a number of disappointing things:

      • Power specifications are incredibly hard to find. One good resource is actually Dell's specification sheets.
      • Most of the inefficiency is in the power supply. In the past PSUs were made incredibly cheaply and even good brands were selling 70% or less efficient PSUs. When a system consumes 100 watts at the plug, that means 30 watts are wasted at the PSU. This has become a lot better with 80+ ratings, but you still have the issue where efficiency tends to drop as power consumption drops.
      • The next big culprit is the video card. The best card I ever found was an ATI Radeon 7000 AGP. They still make them and the power consumption is somewhere in the low single digit watts. Other good options are probably Intel's onboard graphics chips. I think the latest intel integrated x3100 has a max draw of 9 watts (found it somewhere on dell's spec sheets).
      • Another huge culprit is the motherboard. Motherboards these days come with everything. For something like a server you don't need the fancy soundcard. The fancy secondary raid chip is also probably useless. They simply don't make plain vanilla motherboards anymore. Also the chipsets (especially nVidia's chipsets) are horrible with power consumption. There are nearly no specifications available for motherboard chipset power consumption but from my experience it can be anywhere from 10 to 30 watts total.
      • Laptop parts are the best. If you can build your entire server out of laptop parts, that would be ideal. Laptop parts usually have the right configurations for clocking down the CPU, not having a power hungry motherboard, and having efficient parts along with it (wireless, hard drives). For example a 2.5" laptop hard drive even while spinning will consume around 2 to 3 watts. A normal 3.5" hard drive on the other hand can suck 7 watts while spinning. I still haven't come close to beating my dell pentium M laptop in terms of power even with a Via Eden 600mhz system with nothing but a hard drive attached. The laptop would idle at 26 watts (screen off) while the Via would idle at 40watts.
      • Todays CPUs (intel core, a64 single cores) are incredibly efficient. For example I was able to build a 45watt idle AMD64 single core system. The trick is you have to pick the other parts carefully. The board I have (Asus Via board, they no longer make it) allowed me to clock down the CPU to 1000mhz and lower the voltage.
      • For really small server tasks, you may want to consider purchasing a wireless router and turning it into a server by using custom firmware like DD-WRT. Some wireless routers come with usb ports which will allow you to easily attach some flash memory for storage. Routers are also naturally headless so you don't have extra useless overhead from sound and video. To top it all off they come with 3 interfaces! One for the wan, another for the lan, and a wireless interface. What more could you ask for!
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by evilviper (135110)

      Email doesn't require much processing power, so why waste the electricity on a high performance machine?

      Better question: Why waste money on a new VIA C7, when an actual PIII-800 (cheap these days) uses less power?

      If they make a higher performance chip that get within the range of a Core 2, I'd consider buying one to replace my higher performance server in a few years.

      That's a huge "if" there. VIA doesn't make high performance chips, and they don't make low power chips. The only thing VIA does effectively

      • by Vellmont (569020)

        Better question: Why waste money on a new VIA C7, when an actual PIII-800 (cheap these days) uses less power?

        Because the motherboards for these systems generally don't support large amounts of memory (2 gigs in the server), high speed DDR2 memory, SATA, USB2. If I wanted a computer circa 2001, I would have bought a computer circa 2001. I wanted a modern machine with a modern chipset that supports the above features.

        That's a huge "if" there. VIA doesn't make high performance chips, and they don't make low
        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by evilviper (135110)
          Seems strange to want lots of high-speed RAM and storage attached to a very, very slow CPU...

          Depends on what you mean by low power.

          I mean compared to similarly-performing CPUs from other manufacturers.
        • Because the motherboards for these systems generally don't support large amounts of memory (2 gigs in the server), high speed DDR2 memory, SATA, USB2.

          Whoa! We're talking home servers here as far as I understood. 2Gigs for a home server? I've got one of those, it's an AMD Athlon 2800+, 2 Gigs of RAM (DDR1 that is). It's running OpenBSD/amd64. I think you want to see "top -n | head -n4":

          load averages: 0.20, 0.13, 0.09 01:46:26
          54 processes: 1 running, 52 idle, 1 on processor

          Memory: Real: 74M/348M act

  • Competition is good (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fallen1 (230220) on Friday January 25, 2008 @02:19PM (#22184388) Homepage
    I used VIA (and Cyrix) back in the days of Socket 7 and they worked reliably and well for me. I have not used VIA in any new configurations, primarily because I've been rooting for AMD and a long-time supporter of their CPUs. All that aside, I want to see VIA succeed and succeed admirably. Why? Because competition for Intel (and yes, AMD too) will only benefit the consumer in the long run. If the VIA processors force AMD and Intel to rethink their designs and then _innovate_ to keep up with (or keep ahead of) VIA then the consumers win, win, and win.

    What could we get out of this? Loads, of course. One thing I'm not worried about is speed of the chips. Yes, faster CPUs are generally a good thing but I'd like to see more efficient chips coming out in all areas from the chip makers. I'd like to see less heat, less power usage under load, less standby power usage, reduced need for fans/cooling, and more along the lines of efficiency. More efficient chips, especially power usage, equates to less money I spend on utility bills or batteries or whatever. More money in my pockets, more efficient chips, more competition among the chip makers - big and small - all equals "the goodness".

    My $.02 for the day...
     
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I agree with all your remarks. This is definitely the direction things are going, and one that I think many industry observers miss amidst all the hype on power and speed. As a long time VIA supporter I am moving to my third generation of upgrades, from mini-itx to nano-itx and next to pico-itx where I will have a Gnome desktop running on something not much larger than my cellphone.

      1) It's completely silent. Even my brothers laptop makes more noise.

      2) VIA CPUs are astonishingly fast and capable, it's amazin
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Friday January 25, 2008 @02:35PM (#22184596) Journal
    Wow! A 94 meter transistor, that's one big transister! How big is the laptop going to be? Shades of Oldenberg! [wikipedia.org]

    -mcgrew
    No spam for YOU!
  • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Friday January 25, 2008 @02:38PM (#22184650) Homepage
    I've had nothing but good luck with them. Combined with a mini-itx fanless case, these things make great appliances. Here's a great place to get them:

    http://www.logicsupply.com/ [logicsupply.com]

    At work, we used the mini-itx with fanless case for branch office VPN solutions using linux + openswan (which in turn connected back to checkpoint clusters as well as other branch office openswan gateways). At home, I have a VIA chipset m/b with an Athlon 3000+ processer which has been running great for me for a few years.
    • by rthille (8526)
      It's funny, but I could never get my EPIA EN-15000G to run Linux reliably. Memtest86 ran for literally days without an error. Linux would lockup hard with or without X running. NetBSD runs rock-solid, but I sure miss being able to run VMWare...

    • I bought a bunch of these [logicsupply.com] for use at home. They seemed to work fairly well at first, and offered some fun when people would ask how I installed stuff onto something that that small and with no CD. On the down side, you can't stack them on top of each other because the amount of heat being radiated. Then there's the crappy Rhine NIC (or crappy NIC in combination with sundry other crappy components): moderate NFS usage would result in my logs filling up with kernel messages about lost packets, and one unit
    • by code4fun (739014)
      I also purchased a fanless C7 motherboard and had problems with older Linux distro. With Fedora 8, it installed cleanly and runs great. I'm using it as a home mail/web server and VPN access. I'm thinking of replacing the 2.5" SATA drive with one of those high capacity 32G compact flash. Overall, I'm pretty happy with it.
  • by Calyth (168525) on Friday January 25, 2008 @02:52PM (#22184866)
    The curious thing is that the Isaiah is heading towards OoO, whereas Intel's going to build the first in-order chip since the Pentium in Silverthorn.

    C7 already has a good track-record for small form factor, low power, and providing acceptable performance at that category. IMO with the OoO they're heading more towards the laptop market, and I think they could've done something at least less conventional with the design.

    Imagine that they modified the C7-M in-order execution core to a 4-way, fine grain interleaved multithreading, and have 2 cores. The existing C7-M has a short pipe, so pipeflushes aren't as penalizing. At the clockspeed that they're starting at (2GHz), each thread would have acceptable performance for your typical workload. And as OSes are becoming more thread happy (OSX is definitely one of them), such design would be at least something different than ordinary. It would be like having a cut down Sun Niagara in your laptop.

    The current design would make it work decently well for low end laptop and desktops, but I can't help but think that the core now has a bunch of stuff that they can't exactly turn off - I haven't heard of a CPU that could switch off its OoO and retire queue, and the die size has increased significantly compared to the C7.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I was with you until you said this: And as OSes are becoming more thread happy (OSX is definitely one of them)

      OS X is probably the worst modern OS when it comes to threads. Windows and Linux are an order of magnitude more efficient and scalable when it comes to running heavily multi-threaded applications. Apple is working on the problem, but they are at least 5 years behind and not making a lot of headway.
    • Since we have the "source" for both the Niagara and the T2, couldn't you just get a fab company or something to build you one? And how difficult would it be to cut down the Niagara to be able to do this?

      And how much would you charge to build one of these? ;P
  • Open Video Drivers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday January 25, 2008 @02:54PM (#22184914) Homepage Journal
    These VIA CPUs and their motherboards would do a lot more good if their nVidia drivers were completely open. Quite a lot of the overall processing power is in the nVidia chip on the mobo. But when the drivers for Linux (and probably Windows, too) don't fully expose all the video features, the CPU has to do a lot more work preprocessing, at much lower efficiency than the nVidia chip can.
    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      These VIA CPUs and their motherboards would do a lot more good if their nVidia drivers were completely open.

      What nVidia? All of the Mini-ITX motherboards with VIA processors that I know of, have VIA chipset and graphics as well. Including boards made by other companies like Jetway. Anyway, there are no complete open drivers for these chips either (which is unfortunate -- see my other post on C7 performance).

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Whoops, not nVidia, S3. There are open OpenChrome [openchrome.org] drivers, but they can't get at the best features like full OpenGL and alpha-blending HW.
      • by Mike McTernan (260224) on Friday January 25, 2008 @04:36PM (#22186390) Homepage
        You're right. But the poster has as point. The Unichrome support is really bad on Linux. There are about 3 different drivers to try, all with differing results:

        - The OpenChrome drivers, open source, some hw-accel support
        - Unichrome drivers, open source but taking a purist approach that lacks features
        - Via's own drivers, limited binaries for only certain distros, nightmare compile process, but most features supported

        Unfortunately for me, I bought a VIA-epia ex1000 mini-ITX. It has some nice TV out connectors (component out!), so needs a driver that knows how to get this going. Having wasted a lot of time trying to build the drivers for FC7, I gave up and ended up using the Via binaries with FC5. The problem then is that other bits of hardware aren't detected under FC5, leaving me to patch PCI tables and rebuild the kernel to get the right southbridge driver (made a big difference to system performance - much smoother) and the SMBUS working.

        Looking at forums I'm definitely not alone. This guy ended up with XP: http://cg-note.blogspot.com/2007/09/via-epia-ex1000-installation-adventure.html [blogspot.com]

        Personally I think the problem is with Via. They claim to support open source, but throwing out the odd binary driver and giving mangled sources with not too easy to follow build instructions isn't much more than lip service. If they were serious, they could setup a yum repository for Fedora and make rpm's and debs for each major release of the distros they choose to support. Putting all the download packages on one page of their site would also help, as would openly releasing all their datasheets.

        I hope they learn to do better, because I feel their products are held back by the poor Linux support :(

        Mike
        • by owlstead (636356)
          Yup, the USB and Unichrome support suck. I was happily running Ubuntu 7.04 but wanted to upgrade to 7.10. After that I've never had my video drivers working again, so downgrading seems the only option. Not the biggest problem, I wanted to go to flash based (no mechanical parts at all) OS anyway. But having no Unichrome support and having suspend not work because of the USB drivers is not fun.

          I've been in it so deep that I don't even remember which drivers actually worked on 7.04.

  • More like Core 2 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ravyne (858869) on Friday January 25, 2008 @02:55PM (#22184928)
    Actually, the new Via architecture shares a lot more in common with the Core 2 -- Its out-of-order, spends a lot of die space on speculation, has a fairly wide execution pipe, has something similar to the Intel's uOp-fusion and much more cache than the old C7. Its also prepped to go dual-core, but the company says that'll probably only happen once they go to 45nm. This has basically nothing in common with Silverthorn, which goes back to in-order, narrow execution pipe and smaller caches in the interest of saving die-space and power envelope. Of course, Via's chip is still focused on low-power, so it doesn't scale past 2ghz (at least at 65nm, they say) but its probably comparable to Core 2 on a clock-for-clock, core-for-core basis, give or take 20% or so.

    The Summary kind of has it backwards, Via's new chip competes more closely with Core 2, while Intel's Silverthorn competes more closely with Via's C7 chips.
  • by TeknoHog (164938) on Friday January 25, 2008 @03:22PM (#22185278) Homepage Journal

    but as the article said, this time it's more powerful. The C7 is not particularly strong because of its in-order execution core, and the new CPU appears to fix this.

    For the record, my 2 GHz C7 machine can play a 720p h.264 video smoothly, but only without sound :) This is using MPlayer, no hardware acceleration except Xvideo.

  • Does Slashdot have some kind of a policy against linking to stuff that comes from either The Inquirer or its lesser sister, The Register? I mean, the Inq had plenty of analysis and explanations of the microarchitecture in it too, and that was a day ago. Look, I've even got a link [theinquirer.net] here!

    Snubbing something that's perceived as a "tech tabloid" isn't really a good idea these days. If you remember, The Inquirer was first to report on the exploding lithium-ion batteries that ended up costing Sony a pretty penny.

  • I'm using a C3 system as a DVR and I'm also using it as an inexpensive way to learn linux. I have to say, I'm impressed with what Via is bringing to the tables, I'll upgrade to this new processor when a multi core version comes out.
  • Not full-bore, all the shinies turned on Crysis, but it can run it.

    http://enthusiast.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTQ1MCwxLCxoZW50aHVzaWFzdA== [hardocp.com]
  • i was reading about it,and its said on the web that it can decode like 20 gb/s of raw data on RSA thing.
    can it be used to break in encrypted data too?
    like.. imagine a gigantic 100.000 Via C7 cluster hidden somewhere in china,chewing on stolen network packets of a bank or something like that.
  • I've run dozens of VIA chipset motherboards and peripheral devices at the job and the hardware is so unstable it makes it not worth even trying, even adding a VIA peripheral card will cause an otherwise stable Intel chip system to break down. Constant BSODs, random freezing etc.. I've never had as many problems running pure Intel systems, where only rarely does a hardware fault occur. I admit it's been about 3 or 4 years since I've written off VIA, but why is everyone so happy about VIA when, in my experi

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