VIA Technologies

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VIA Technologies Inc.
威盛電子
Type Subsidiary
Industry Computer hardware
Founded 1987
Headquarters New Taipei City, Taiwan, ROC
Products Chipsets, motherboards, CPUs
Parent Formosa Plastics Group
Website VIA.com.tw

VIA Technologies Inc. (Chinese: 威盛電子; pinyin: Wēishèng Diànzǐ) is a Taiwanese manufacturer of integrated circuits, mainly motherboard chipsets, CPUs, and memory, and is part of the Formosa Plastics Group. It is the world's largest independent manufacturer of motherboard chipsets. As a fabless semiconductor company, VIA conducts research and development of its chipsets in-house, then subcontracts the actual (silicon) manufacturing to third-party merchant foundries, such as TSMC.

History[edit]

The company was founded in 1987 in Fremont, California, USA by Cher Wang. In 1992 it was decided to move the headquarters to Taipei, Taiwan in order to establish closer partnerships with the substantial and growing IT manufacturing base in Taiwan and neighbouring China.[1]

In 1999, VIA acquired most of Cyrix, then a division of National Semiconductor and also Integrated Device Technology from Centaur Technology, marking its entry into the x86 microprocessor market. VIA is the maker of the VIA C3 and VIA C7 processors, and the EPIA platform. The Cyrix MediaGX platform remained with National Semiconductor.

In 2001, VIA established the S3 Graphics joint venture.

In January 2005, VIA began the VIA pc-1 Initiative, to develop information and communication technology systems to benefit those with no access to computers or Internet. In February 2005, VIA celebrated production of the 100 millionth VIA AMD chipset.

On 29 August 2008, VIA announced that they would release official 2D accelerated Linux drivers for their chipsets, and would also release 3D accelerated drivers.[2]

Products[edit]

A VIA USB PHY on a Rosewill branded PCI USB 2.0 Desktop Expansion card

VIA's business focuses on integrated chipsets for the PC market. Among PC users, VIA is best known for its motherboard (core-logic) chipsets. However, VIA's products include audio controllers, network/connectivity controllers, low-power CPUs, and even CD/DVD-writer chipsets. PC and peripheral vendors such as ASUS then buy the chipsets for inclusion into their own product brands.

In the late 1990s, VIA began diversifying its core-logic business, and the company has since made business acquisitions to form a CPU division, graphics division, and a sound division. As advances in silicon manufacturing continue to increase the level of integration and functionality in chipsets, VIA will need these divisions to remain competitive in the core-logic market.

Audio circuits[edit]

Circuit Sampling rate Resolution
Digital Analog Digital Analog
VT1613 96 kHz 96 kHz 20-bit 20-bit
VT1618 96 kHz 96 kHz 20-bit 20-bit
VT1708B 96 kHz 192 kHz 24-bit 24-bit

Processors[edit]

Series Model Core Frequency
[MHz]
Front Side Bus
[MHz]
Year Process
[nm]
Die size
[mm^2]
Power
[W]
L2 Cache
[K]
L1 I/D Cache
[K]
Performance
[SPEC2000]
Eden Eden ESP Samuel 2 300-600 66/100/133 2001 150 35x35 2.5-6 64 64/64
Eden ESP Nehemiah 667-1000 133/200 2003–2004 130 35x35 6-7 64 64/64
Eden-N Nehemiah 533-1000 133 2003 130 15x15 2.5-7 64 64/64
Eden Esther 400-1500 400-800 2006–2007 90 30 <7.5 128 32/32
Eden X2 ? 800 ? 2011 40 11x6 ? ?
C3 C3 Samuel 2 667-800 100-133 2001 150 13 64 64/64
C3 Ezra 800-1000 100-133 2002 130 8.3-10 64 64/64
C3 Nehemiah 1000–1400 133-200 2003 130 35x35 15-21 64 64/64
C3-M Nehemiah 1000–1400 133-200 2003 130 35x35 11-19 64 64/64
C7 C7-D Esther 1500–1800 400 2006 90 21x21 20-25 128 16/16
C7-M Esther 1000–2000 400 2005 90 21x21 12-20 128 16/16
C7 Esther 1500–2000 800 2007 90 21x21 12-20 128 16/16
QuadCore QuadCore Isaiah 1200+ 1333 2011 40 2x 11x6 27.5 4x 1024[4] 4x 64/64 30.1/24.1 rate[5]
Series Model Core Frequency
[MHz]
Front Side Bus
[MHz]
Year Process
[nm]
Die size
[mm^2]
Power
[W]
L2 Cache
[K]
L1 I/D Cache
[K]
Performance
[SPEC2000]

VIA PadLock[edit]

The VIA PadLock Security Engine is implemented in some VIA x86 processors, which includes a hardware random number generator.[6]

Chipsets[edit]

VX900[edit]

[7]

VN1000[edit]

[8]

  • Processor Support
  • VIA Nano, VIA C7, C7-D and Eden™ (V4) processors
  • PowerSaver™ Support
  • Yes
  • VIA V4 Bus
  • 400/800 MHz
  • Memory Support
  • DDR2 677/800 and DDR3 800/1066
  • Max Memory
  • 16GB
  • PCI Express
  • One 8-lane, four 1-lane
  • North/South Bridge Link
  • Ultra V-Link (1GB/s)
  • Graphics Core
  • VIA Chrome 520
  • DirectX Graphics
  • DirectX10.1
  • Video Acceleration
  • H.264, WMV, MPEG-2
  • HDTV support
  • Yes – HDTV resolutions inc 1080p, 1080i and 720P
  • Multi-Display Support
  • Yes – including dual HDMI DisplayPort and LVDS

Market trends[edit]

VIA established itself as important supplier of PC components with its chipsets for Socket 7 platform. With the Apollo VP3 chipset VIA pioneered AGP support for Socket 7 processors.[9] VIA's present market position derives from the success of its Pentium III chipsets. Intel discontinued the development of its SDRAM chipsets, and stated as policy that only RAMBUS memory would be supported going forward. Since RAMBUS was more expensive and offered few, if any, obvious performance advantages, manufacturers found they could ship performance-equivalent PCs at a lower cost by using VIA chipsets.

While historically VIA chipsets had suffered compatibility and performance issues, especially regarding AGP implementations[citation needed], an internal program to raise standards had also begun, and VIA's fast and stable mature chipsets found market appeal, and profits soared. Many companies that had previously maintained Intel-only buying policies placed volume orders with VIA. Intel eventually restarted SDRAM development, and produced the 815 chipset, with 133 MHz SDRAM support and a 133 MHz Front Side Bus CPU interface. As NVIDIA came out with the powerful nForce2 chipset for the Athlon, VIA's market share started to decline. At the same time, VIA benefited from AMD's popular Athlon processor, for which VIA sold millions of chipsets.

In response to increasing market competition, VIA decided to buy out the ailing S3 Graphics business. While the Savage chipset was not fast enough to survive as a discrete solution, its low manufacturing cost made it an ideal integrated solution, as part of the VIA northbridge. Under VIA, the S3 brand has generally held onto a 10% share of the PC graphics market, behind Intel, ATI, and NVIDIA. VIA also includes the VIA Envy soundcard on its motherboards, which offers 24-bit sound.

While its Pentium 4 chipset designs have struggled to win market share, in the face of legal threats from Intel, the K8T800 chipset for the Athlon 64 has been popular.

VIA has also continued the development of its VIA C3 and VIA C7 processors, targeting small, light, low power applications, a market space in which VIA is successful. In January 2008, Via unveiled the VIA Nano, an 11 mm × 11 mm footprint VM-enabled x86-64 processor, which debuted in May 2008 for ultra-mobile PCs.

Legal issues[edit]

On the basis of the IDT Centaur acquisition,[10] VIA appears to have come into possession of at least three patents, which cover key aspects of processor technology used by Intel. On the basis of the negotiating leverage these patents offered, in 2003 VIA arrived at an agreement with Intel that allowed for a ten year patent cross license, enabling VIA to continue to design and manufacture x86 compatible CPUs. VIA was also granted a three year grace period in which it could continue to use Intel socket infrastructure.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Corporate History - VIA Technologies, Inc.". via.com.tw. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "VIA Releases FOSS Graphics Driver". Slashdot. 31 August 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "VIA Nano X2 SPEC2000 ratio and rate scores". Via.com. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 
  4. ^ "VIA QuadCore Processor". Via.com. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 
  5. ^ "VIA Nano X2 Whitepaper". Via.com. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 
  6. ^ "VIA PadLock Security Engine - VIA Technologies, Inc.". via.com.tw. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  7. ^ "VIA VX900 Chipset". Via.com. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 
  8. ^ "VIA VN1000 Chipset". Via.com. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "VIA and Intel Settle Patent Infringement Cases". VIA Technologies, Inc. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 

External links[edit]