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Via aims 2-chip PC core at Ultra Mobile PC designs

Mar 9, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 10 views

Via Technology unveiled a new high-integration core-logic chip for low-power, PC-like handheld mobile devices Thursday at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany. The VX700 integrates Via's VN800 northbridge and VT8237 southbridge chip features, plus other mobile-oriented functions. It pairs up with Via's Via C7-M ULV processor to create a two-chip core for “ultra mobile” designs, according to the company.

Via is using the unveiling of Microsoft's Origami Project as a venue to preview its new high-integration PC core silicon, which it says is extremely well suited to the devices. Via claims its two-chip CPU/core-logic offering enables smaller, simpler, lower power, and less costly Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) designs.

PaceBlade's Ultra Mobile PC uses Via's C7-M/VN800/VT8237 combo

The company says that its existing VN800/VT8237 northbridge/southbridge combo, which the VX700 will replace, has already been selected for several UMPC designs, including those of Amtek, MoBITS, and PaceBlade (pictured here). Additionally the chipset has also been used in handhelds and mini-tablets such as the DualCor cPC, Via says.

Combining a northbridge and southbridge into one

Via's new high-integration VX700 core logic chip combines the functions of the company's VN800 northbridge and VT8237 southbridge chips, which are shown in the following block diagram.

The VX700 replaces the VN800/VT8237 northbridge/southbridge combo, whose functions are shown in this block diagram

Besides providing the functions of the VN800 and VT8237, the LX700 also adds several mobile device-oriented features, according to Via. These include a built-in LVDS LCD display interface and a TV encoder that “fully supports” HDTV formats, plus Via's Chromotion Video Engine, said to support high quality video playback. Graphics capabilities of the VX700 will include 2D/3D graphics acceleration, MPEG2 support, and dual monitor outputs. A future VX700-M will add MPEG4 and High Definition Audio support, along with Windows Media 9 acceleration, according to Colin Brix, an international marketing specialist for Via's chipset platform group.

In addition to the board space savings provided by the combined core logic, the C7-M processor itself is a substantial space-saver, being implemented in a NanoBGA2 package that measures just 21 x 21 mm. Further, in addition to the power savings that will result from the smaller die size of the VX700 core logic, a 1GHz VIA C7-M ULV (ultra-low voltage) processor draws just 3.5W during normal system operation, and as little as 0.1W in idle mode, according to Via. In addition to lengthening operating time between charges, lower power consumption will also enable smaller, lighter internal batteries.

This combination should help UMPC makers reduce the bulk and heft of their devices to something more pocketable, and with more acceptable battery life.

Production VX700 chips are expected to be available within several months, Brix said. Pricing was not disclosed.

Via also markets several two-chip chipsets in which the CPU and Northbridge are combined. And, the company has announced a single-chip chipset, expected this year. Details are here.

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