The Third x86-based SoC Player: VIA & Centaur's Isaiah II

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 11, 2014 - 04:58 PM |
Tagged: x86, VIA, isaiah II, Intel, centaur, arm, amd

There might be a third, x86-compatible processor manufacturer who is looking at the mobile market. Intel has been trying to make headway, including the direct development of Android for the x86 architecture. The company also has a few design wins, mostly with Windows 8.1-based tablets but also the occasional Android-based models. Google is rumored to be preparing the "Nexus 8" tablet with one of Intel's Moorefield SoCs. AMD, the second-largest x86 processor manufacturer, is aiming their Mullins platform at tablets and two-in-ones, but cannot afford to play snowplow, at least not like Intel.

via-centaur-countdown.jpg

VIA, through their Centaur Technology division, is expected to announce their own x86-based SoC, too. Called Isaiah II, it is rumored to be a quad core, 64-bit processor with a maximum clock rate of 2.0 GHz. Its GPU is currently unknown. VIA sold their stake S3 Graphics to HTC back in 2011, who then became majority shareholder over the GPU company. That said, HTC and VIA are very close companies. The chairwoman of HTC is the founder of VIA Technologies. The current President and CEO of VIA, who has been in that position since 1992, is her husband. I expect that the GPU architecture will be provided by S3, or will somehow be based on their technology. I could be wrong. Both companies will obviously do what they think is best.

It would make sense, though, especially if it benefits HTC with cheap but effective SoCs for Android and "full" Windows (not Windows RT) devices.

Or this announcement could be larger than it would appear. Three years ago, VIA filed for a patent which described a processor that can read both x86 and ARM machine language and translate it into its own, internal microinstructions. The Centaur Isaiah II could reasonably be based on that technology. If so, this processor would be able to support either version of Android. Or, after Intel built up the Android x86 code base, maybe they shelved that initiative (or just got that patent for legal reasons).

Android-x86.png

But what about Intel? Honestly, I see this being a benefit for the behemoth. Extra x86-based vendors will probably grow the overall market share, compared to ARM, by helping with software support. Even if it is compatible with both ARM and x86, what Intel needs right now is software. They can only write so much of it themselves. It is possible that VIA, being the original netbook processor, could disrupt the PC market with both x86 and ARM compatibility, but I doubt it.

Centaur Technology, the relevant division of VIA, will make their announcement in less than 51 days.

Source: 3d Center

VIA's new QuadCore processor proves low power and high performance are still cool

Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | May 12, 2011 - 12:22 PM |
Tagged: VIA, Nano, quadcore, quad, centaur

VIA has been sitting pretty in a very specific peice of the computer market for quite a while now and is now being crowded by AMD and Intel working their way down to the low power market from their usual energy gobbling silicon and ARM sneaking up its performance from its traditional extremely low power consumption market.   That competition has spurred VIA to develop first the dual core Nano X2 and now the QuadCore which is a pair of X2's on a single package using what was described to The Tech Report as a "side channel" of wiring between them.  Still on 40nm it doesn't represent a completely new design for VIA, more a refinement of what they already produce.  Check out their coverage as well as the write up Josh has finished here.

vq_05.jpg

"Early this year, Via introduced its Nano X2 processor, a dual-core implementation of its Isaiah architecture built on TSMC's 40-nm chip fabrication process. Today, Via is announcing a new product, the QuadCore processor, that combines a pair of Nano X2 chips on a single package to deliver a low-cost, low-power CPU whose position in the market is fairly distinctive.

We visited Via-Centaur's Austin, Texas offices yesterday, where we chatted with Centaur Chief Architect Glenn Henry and Via marketing head Richard Brown. We came away with some fresh details on the QuadCore processor and a better sense of Via's future plans as an intriguing third-place supplier of x86-compatible PC processors."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors