VIA QuadCore Preview & Centaur Tour

VIA Technologies and Centaur Technologies are back with what it is calling the world's most efficient x86 multicore processor on the planet. Seeing so much done with so little is impressive, but what is even more impressive is seeing four cores falling into a power envelope of less than 28 watts TDP.

Introduction

VIA and Centaur are no mystery to HardOCP. There is no doubt that both companies have been more open to its CPU production than AMD or Intel have ever been. We have watched Liz at Centaur install Isaiah processor dies on nano-BGA packages by hand. We have sat for hours with Glenn Henry discussing Isaiah processor architecture. Here is what we wrote about single core Isaiah architecture back in 2008.

This new processor for Centaur and VIA will be an out-of-order superscaler single core CPU at launch. Initially it will not have SSE4 instructions but that will be added on one of it first updates later this year and even a dual core version is possible but not yet planned. The amazing thing about this new processor, which we will refer to as the "CN" (which has yet to be branded, and let's hope VIA comes up with something better than "C7" this time round) from here out, fits into the same power envelope as the current C7. A current C7 at 1.5GHz is rated at 25w TDP. A new CN at 2GHz should fetch 20w TDP or less. (I should mention here that TDP numbers are somewhat misleading. Under normal usage models a 2GHz would likely fetch between 2w to 5w. I also previously misstated that TDP was higher than 20w. 20w is correct and has been verified by Centaur.) The new CN is pin compatible with the C7 as well. It is entirely possible to take this new CN processor, which could be categorized as being at least "2X more powerful than the C7," and drop it into current C7 devices. Launch is slated for "Spring of 2008."

Towards the middle of 2008 the "VIA Nano" was born. While we saw few design wins that got big attention, Lenovo and Samsung did produce Netbooks with the VIA Nano. In fact, I will have the Samsung Netbook here with me now and my wife carries it with her when she travels. Truly though, as the years have passed, the Nano has gotten a bit overworked, not "slow," but busy. The fact is that the single core struggles now days in a world scaled up for multiple thread operating systems. VIA understand this and just announced last week the new Nano X2 E-Series Dual Core Processor. Hot on the heals of this, VIA is show sharing that it is working on a new VIA QuadCore Processor.

VIA QuadCore Processor

To be succinct, the QuadCore is positioned to take on solutions like the AMD Brazos Platform that we looked at recently in the sub-$500 market.

The VIA QuadCore Facts

  • 40nm node process

  • 27.5 watt TDP at 1.2GHz+

  • Four Isaiah Cores on Two Dies (11mm X 6mm)

  • VIA NanoBGA Package (21mm X 21mm)

  • Pin-to-pin compatible with VIA processor back to the C7

Below you can check out the slide deck that covers all the specifics.

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