VIA pushes netbook reference design
Yes, another one
VIA continues to pitch its C7-M processor at netbook makers, despite evidence they favour its Nano  chip, and has launched a new reference design in the hope they'll opt for the older chip.
Dubbed the Surfboard C855, the design comprises a small motherboard fitted with a 1.66GHz C7-M on an 800MHz bus and connected to VIA's VX855 chipset - a part the company claims is good for smooth 1080p playback.
VIA's Surfboard C855 Reference Design: 1080p HD playback supported... sort of
The chipset's integrated graphics core can only feed an on-board LCD of up to 1366 x 768 resolution - just over 720p - but external monitors can run at up to 1920 x 1440 when connected to the part, VIA said. It has support for H.264, MPEG 2, MPEG 4, WMV9 and VC1 decoding in hardware too.
It's designed to operate with a 10in or 12in screen.
Standard netbook features covered
Surfboard supports all the customary netbook technologies: there's a single Dimm slot to take up to 2GB of 667 or 800MHz DDR 2 memory; support for both 1.8in parallel ATA ZIF-connected drives and 2.5in SATA units; VGA out, though this surely renders the ability to play 1080p content on an external screen pointless - where's the DVI or HDMI port, VIA? - three-in-one memory card reader; two USB ports; and a Mini PCI Express slot for Wi-Fi cards.
There's apparently pins for a SIM slot too, allowing netbook makers to construct HSDPA 3G machines with the addition of an internal modem.
VIA has introduced a number of netbook reference designs in the past, most notably 2007's NanoBook and its successor, OpenBook , put out in 2008. OpenBook was aimed at 8.9in netbooks, NanoBook at models with 7in screen. So there's still room for both alongside the 10-12in Surfboard design.
VIA's C7-M won support from mini-PC makers HP and OQO last year, though they've since largely deserted it for Intel's Atom. Samsung is preparing a 12in netbook based on Nano, however.
VIA is making Surfboard available to Asian netbook makers now. ®