S3 turns to Transmeta tech for low-power graphics chips

Signs 90nm fab deal with Fujitsu

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S3 Graphics, chip maker VIA's graphics processor subsidiary, has signed Fujitsu to fab the company's products at 90nm, the partners announced today.

Fujitsu will produce S3's Chrome family, including the upcoming Chrome 20 mid-range chip, expected to be clocked at 700MHz or more yet consume only 5-15W of power.

Today, S3 said the chips would indeed provide "high speeds and industry-leading performance per watt". Fujitsu's 90nm process makes that possible, it said, because the technology yields chips that run "25 per cent faster and with power savings of at least 25 per cent compared to chips made with conventional 90nm processes".

S3 may well have erstwhile VIA rival Transmeta to thank for that. In December 2004, Transmeta licensed its LongRun 2 power conservation and transistor-leakage reduction system to Fujitsu for incorporation into the Japanese firm's production process. Technology licensing deals like this are part and parcel of Transmeta's business model these days, now it has stopped offering x86-compatible CPUs under its own name.

S3's 90nm chips will be made at Fujitsu's Mie, Japan plant, a 300mm-wafer facility that only opened for business in April this year. S3, which has in the past looked to the likes of TSMC to produce its graphics processors, said it would be using Fujitsu for future, post-90nm products.

The Chrome 20 is set to ship later this quarter. It has been said the part features eight pixel pipelines and four vertex shaders, and it supports HD video and SLi-style multi-card operation. ®