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VIA, MS fuel China-led low-cost laptop invasion

Nano + XP = cheap-as-chips kit

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VIA today launched an initiative to encourage Asian netbook and notebook makers to build mobile machines based on its 64-bit putative Atom-smasher, the Nano processor, rather than Intel technology.

Dubbed the Global Mobility Bazaar, VIA's scheme will see it partner with 15 Chinese vendors who'll base their low-cost kit on VIA chippery - the C7-M as well as the Nano - and Windows XP.

Yes, Microsoft was on hand too, promoting "a rich mobile computing experience built around the familiar Windows XP interface". Not Vista, you'll note.

Other participants included Bios builder American Megatrends and solid-state storage supplier SanDisk.

The GMB initiative runs from 7in netbooks up to 15in notebooks, so there's no doubting the scale of VIA's ambition as it seeks with its pals to "extend the options and price points for consumers everywhere".

It particularly highlighted the way cheap kit makes it possible for telcos to buy such machines and subsidise their price to the consumers through mobile broadband tariffs - just as Dell has done by allowing Vodafone to sell its Inspiron Mini 9 netbook for nowt but a two-year HSDPA subscription.

Separately, VIA said it was now sampling the first Mini-ITX mobo for the Nano. The VB80001 incorporates a 1.6GHz 64-bit Nano, slots for up to 4GB of 533MHz or 667MHz DDR 2 memory, Gigabit Ethernet portage and two 3Gb/s SATA ports.

The board also provides VIA's Chrome9 integrated graphics core for DirectX 9, but there's a 16-line PCI Express (PCIe) slot on the board for a discrete GPU if it'll fit in the casing. The VB8001 has a mini-PCI slot for other add-ins, such as a wireless card. The backplane has USB, audio, legacy and other portage.

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