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VIA unveils Turion chipset

Thin'n'light

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VIA today launched its first chipset pitched at AMD's Turion thin'n'light notebook platform, days after it said it had shipped more than 100m chipsets for AMD processors.

Its latest offering, the K8N800A, is Turion-ready, VIA said, even though AMD has yet to say just what that Turion encompasses. As we noted last week when ATI launched its own Turion chipset, the AMD proposition is diluted somewhat by the need for a third-party chipset. Intel's Centrino, with which Turion is clearly intended to compete, at least has the advantage of being both a brand and a core-component bundle. Somehow AMD's packaging of CPU and wireless adaptor - if that's what Turion is, and not just a new mobile CPU - doesn't seem sufficient to warrant the term 'platform'.

Still, it does provide motherboard and notebook vendors with a choice of system logic, particularly now that VIA is offering such a part in addition to ATI.

Developed for mobile Athlon and Sempron processors, the K8N800A also incorporates S3's 200MHz UniChrome Pro 128-bit graphic core, with twin parallel pixel processing pipelines. It also provides an AGP 8x port for an external graphics sub-system should notebook vendors require it. The chipset connects to the host CPU across an 800MHz HyperTransport bus, which also connects the graphics core to the main memory via the CPU's own memory controller. The graphics core can utilise 16-64MB of shared DDR SDRAM.

The K8N800A's VT8237 South Bridge provides the usual Serial ATA support for up to four devices, plus four parallel ATA drives. It can handle six PCI expansion ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, 10/100Mbps Ethernet - there's a Gigabit Ethernet add-on option - and VIA's six-channel Vinyl audio sub-system.

The whole lot comes with its own power-conservation system that's compliant with AMD's PowerNow! technology. The chipset is available now. Turion itself is expected to ship sometime during the first half of the year.

Earlier this week, VIA said it had shipped its 99,999,999th chipset for AMD processors. The next part off the production line, chipset number 100m, was presented to AMD. It would be interesting to know whether it actually works, or if it's just one more of the many chipset parts - processors too - that end up in key rings and other nick-nacks because they failed the QA process. ®

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