VIA unveils the Isaiah architecture

MapVIA silicon wafer  

There’s a rule I learned in the performing arts, and it’s true in the PC world as well.  “You have to be first, best, or different.”  In the processor world, Intel and AMD are constantly fighting over ‘best.’  Intel was arguably the first on the affordable/reliable/marketable dual-core scene.  So VIA is only left with one choice – different.  And they are.

I don’t own a VIA processor.  But the thought that I might eventually has actually entered my brain.  Today, the Taiwan-based manufacturer released the first pictures of its new processor architecture, codenamed “Isaiah.”  Let’s skip the jokes about prophecies of Biblical proportions.  The fact is, VIA probably doesn’t have the option of making such an impact.  Not right now.  But, here’s what makes Isaiah special.  VIA’s website boasts:

The first processors implementing the VIA Isaiah Architecture will use proven 65 nanometer technology for greater power efficiency, which, combined with new enhanced power and thermal management capabilities, will ensure the best performance per watt on the market and help drive the rapidly emerging categories of green, silent and small form factor desktop PCs and home media centers, and ultra thin and light notebooks and mini-notes.

It’s an x86 dual-core processor at 2.0 GHz.  It uses less power than its big-name counterparts, uses a 65 nm process, and will support 64-bit programs.  It’s environmentally friendly, and it’s compatible with the VIA C7 socket, making for an easy upgrade.  The only problem – it’s VIA, not Intel.

Let me explain that (if you’re not familiar with the politics of processors).  VIA’s sales last year were about US 450 million.  According to the New Mexico Business Weekly, total chip sales last year were $270 billon.  That puts VIA with .17% (that’s one-sixth of one percent) of the market share (I believe that’s for all chips, not just for processors).  I’ve heard that Intel had about 12 percent of the market last year.

So, VIA isn’t exactly ruling the world.  But here’s what I like about them.  They aren’t quitting.  They are challenging ‘the man’ (or both of them, actually – Intel/AMD), and they are doing it with style.  They are the different.  The eco-friendly.  The chic (in a nerdy way).  I like that they want to make processors that, in a small way, help preserve the resources we have.  I’m not an environmentalist, but I believe strongly that we should wisely use our resources and not destroy and waste unnecessarily.  So I like VIA.  And one of these days, there’s a pretty good chance I will build with VIA.  In fact, there’s a great chance that I will (now that they are making 2.0 GHz duallies).

OK, so it’s not as fast as the Q6600 (G0) in my PC.  But I like VIA, and I’m excited to see what they are doing.  And since Isaiah hits the market around the middle of this year, I will probably build a VIA rig at some point.  You know, help the environment and the little guy at the same time.

Check them out.  www.via.com.tw

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