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VIA intros Nano 3000 netbook, notebook CPUs

Takes aim at Intel's Atom and CULV chips

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VIA has introduced out its latest Nano CPUs, pitching the new 3000 family of low-power processors at makers of thin'n'light laptops and of all-in-one desktops.

The Nano 3000 series runs to six processors, clock at between 1GHz and 2GHz. They all sit on an 800MHz system bus. Four U3x00 models consume just 100mW of power when idling - the two L3xx0 Nanos consume 500mW at idle.

VIA touted the new parts' support for 64-bit computing, virtualisation and the SSE 4 media processing instructions. Like past VIA processors, the new ones have on-board AES and SHA encryption engine.

Despite the pitch at laptops and desktops, VIA was quick to stress the Nano 3000 series' performance over Intel's netbook-oriented Atom N270. It said a Nano 3000 running at 1.6GHz - such a chip isn't among VIA's list of SKUs - was 43 per cent faster than the 1.6GHz Atom N270 in PCMark05's CPU benchmark.

The Nano 3000 series is sampling now, but won't go into mass production until Q1 2010, by which time Intel's second-generation Atom chip, the 1.66GHz N450 should be out. It has a power envelope of 7W, more than its predecessor but still better because its on-board memory controller and graphics engine negate the need for a separate northbridge chip - which usually consume more power than the processor.

VIA didn't provide a TDP for the Nano 3000 series, though its 1.6GHz Nano L2200 consumed up to 17W. Clock-for-clock the 3000 series delivers 23 per cent more performance than the 2000 series, VIA said, but the two families' idle power consumption figures are much the same. VIA said the 3000 series is "20 per cent more energy efficient" than its predecessor. If it's to tackle Atom effectively, that will have to mean the CPU's TDP is considerably lower than 13.6W. ®

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