Saturday, April 12, 2008

Nvidia + VIA = True


Rather unexpected

Although the rumors have been circulating for a couple of weeks now, with various suggestions about Nvidia and VIA having been in talks about a possible buyout from Nvidia's side, it now seems that Nvidia has decided to support VIA's upcoming CN/Isaiah CPU with a new chipset.

Nvidia revealed the new chipset during its financial analyst meeting yesterday and the new platform is referred to as "The World's Most Affordable Vista Premium PC." The pictured prototype board appears to be a VIA product and doesn't actually have a Nvidia chipset on it.

Regardless of this, there are some interesting things to point out here. First of all, Nvidia is listing the board to have 1+8 cores, as Nvidia likes to call its Shader processors for cores now, meaning that the integrated GPU will have 8 Shaders. The combination of the VIA CN processor and the Nvidia IGP chipset should be good for up to 36 GFLOPS, which is compared to an unspecified Intel Celeron processor and Intel's 945G chipset which is meant to produce a mere 6.4 GFLOPS in comparison, although the 945G chipset uses the ICH7 (not ICH4 as per the picture below).

Nvidia is also touting features such as Vista Premium support, Blu-ray playback and DX10. All this should still set you back less than US$45, that being the CPU and the chipset, not the entire board. The platform is meant to compete with Intel's low-cost PC platform and more specifically the Atom processor.

We're not sure how power efficient this new Nvidia chipset will be and it would be a major concern if this platform would end up in a notebook design, as battery life is still a key factor in any mobile product. However, as a desktop platform, this could be a very interesting product, especially for the low cost HTPC market. Now we just need some Linux HDMI support and the sub $200 HTPC is here.

There was no word on availability, although Digitimes mentioned early 2009, but this seems a little bit too far away to be a realistic launch date.


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