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Power-efficient chipset supports Linux

Dec 10, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Via announced a Linux-ready chipset claimed to be the industry's most power-efficient supporting Microsoft's DirectX 10.1. Including the VN1000 northbridge and VT8261 southbridge, the chipset supports up to 16GB of DDR3 memory, provides smooth HD video playback, and includes dual-channel support for displays including HDMI and DisplayPort, the company says.

Intended to support Via's recently announced Nano 3000 processor (right), the VN1000 northbridge and VT8261 southbridge are said to consume a total of up to 12 Watts. This makes the chipset the most power efficient to support Microsoft's DirectX 10.1, Via claims, enabling Windows 7 to run using Microsoft's advanced Desktop Driver Model 1.1. Like the Nano 3000, the chipset also supports Linux, says Via.

The graphics capabilities are courtesy of what Via is branding as the Chrome 520, an integrated graphics processor on the VN1000 that has 32 stream processors and four sampling units. According to the company, a 128-bit 2D graphics engine provides GDI/GDI+ acceleration, hardware 2D rotation, and a true-color hardware cursor with 256-level blending.

Via's VN1000 (left) and VT8261 (right)
(Click to enlarge)

Via says the Chrome 520 supports Shader Model 4, OpenGL 3.0, and OpenCL 1.0 for "next-generation GPGPU applications." Meanwhile, a ChromotionHD 2.0 video processor is said to offer "advanced filtering and cutting edge post-processing," performing "ultra-smooth decoding" of 1080p HD video in MPEG-4/AVC, H.264, MPEG-2, VC-1, WMV-HD, and AVS video formats.

According to Via, display support on the VN1000 includes a dedicated CRT interface, an integrated LVVDS transmitter, a multiplexed display interface for DisplayPort and HDMI, and a 12-bit digital video output port (DVP) for an external HDMI/LVDS/DVI transmitter. DuoView support allows multi-monitor extended desktop support, where two independent display engines can display different content at different resolutions, pixel depths and refresh rates, the company adds.

Like other northbridges, the VN1000 is also responsible for memory and other key functionality. Via says the device supports up to 16GB of DDR2 (up to 800MHz) and DDR3 (up to 1066MHz) memory in dual-channel symmetric mode, with 64-bit data width for each channel. The VN1000 additionally is said to offer PCI Express expansion, one 8-lane and four 1-lane.

A block diagram of Via's VN1000 and VT8261
(Click to enlarge)

Connected to the VN1000 by Via's 1GB/sec. Ultra V-Link interface, the VT8261 southbridge — "fully compatible with current and future Via northbridges" — offers four SATA II ports, with support for 3Gb/sec. transfer rates, native command queuing (NCQ), and port multipliers, says Via. While hardware RAID was not specified, the VT8261 supports hot plug connections, allowing users to swap out failed drives without taking down all the drives in an array, says the company.

Via says the VT8261 offers up to 12 USB 2.0 ports, PS/2 support and the ability to connect a memory card reader with SD/MMS/MMC support. Networking is said to be available through the Via Velocity VT6130 10/100/1000 gigabit Ethernet controller. Featuring a PCI 2.2 compliant PCI controller, the VT8261 offers support for up to five PCI slots, and supports a full range of legacy controllers, including GPIO LPC, the company adds.

Finally, the VN1000 and VT8261 support Via's Vinyl HD, described as a low power, high-fidelity 8-channel high definition audio codec supporting QSound, DTS Connect, Dolby Digital Live, Dolby PCEE, SRS Lab and Creative Technologies. Blu-ray and HD-DVD audio content protection is also supported, for "full-rate lossless audio playback," says Via.

Richard Brown, VP of international marketing for Via, stated, "The Via VN1000 leverages our optimized Nano 3000 Series processors, creating the most balanced, power-efficient, multimedia-focused desktop platform on the market today. Supporting the latest system memory, graphics and entertainment standards, the VN1000 takes the Via processor platform to new heights of power-efficient visual sophistication."


Via says the VN1000 and VT8261 will be fully compatible with all Via Nano, C7, C7-M, and Eden processors, supporting all Windows platforms and popular Linux distributions. Pricing, availability, and packaging information were not announced, however.

For further information on the VN1000 and VT8261, see Via's website, here and here, respectively.

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