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VIA to ship C7 next month

But at what clock speed?

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VIA's C7 'Esther' processor will go into mass production by the end of the quarter, the Taiwanese chip maker said today.

The chip, designed by VIA's US subsidiary Centaur, is pitched at mobile devices, consumer electronics kit and small form-factor PCs - all machine types VIA has been increasingly targeting over the last few years.

The C7 consumes up to 20W when its running flat out at 2GHz, VIA said, falling to 0.1W when it's idling. In the past, VIA has said the chip will consume 3.5W at 1GHz.

Fabbed at 90nm by IBM, the C7's die is 30mm². Inside is 128KB of L1 cache and 128KB of L2, up from the C3's 64KB cache. The chip operates on an 800MHz frontside bus.

The x86 chip supports all three versions of Intel's SSE instructions, and there's the usual VIA PadLock security engine on board to provide AES encryption acceleration, true random number generation and, introduced with the C7, SHA-1 and SHA-256 hashing, and a Montgomery Multiplier supporting key sizes up to 32K in length to accelerate public key cryptography. Like other x86 CPUs, the chip supports the no-execute bit to prevent code being run from data-only memory blocks.

While the C7 will go into volume production this quarter, it's not yet clear when the 2GHz version discussed by VIA will ship. In January, an email allegedly sent by a VIA representative claimed that speed wouldn't be attained until Q4, with slower parts shipping first to allow VIA to meet is previously pledged H1 2005 ship date. ®

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