VIA's Rumored New "Isaiah II" Based x86 CPU Will Compete With Intel Bay Trail and AMD Kabini Chips

Subject: Processors | August 19, 2014 - 09:06 PM |
Tagged: VIA, isaiah II, centaur technologies, centaur

VIA subsidiary Centaur Technology is rumored to be launching a new x86 processor at the end of August based on the "Isaiah II" architecture. This upcoming chip is a 64-bit SoC aimed at the mobile and low power space. So far, the only known implementation is a quad core version clocked at up to 2.0 GHz with a 2MB L2 cache. Benchmarks of the quad core Isaiah II-based processor recently appeared online, and if the SiSoft Sandra results hold true VIA has very competitive chip on its hands that outperforms Intel's Bay Trail Z3770 and holds its own against AMD's Jaguar-based Athlon 5350.

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The SiSoft Sandra results below show the alleged Isaiah II quad core handily outmaneuvering Intel's Bay Trail SoC and trading wins with AMD's Athlon 5350. All three SoCs are quad core parts with integrated graphics solutions. The benchmarks were run on slightly different configurations as they do not share a motherboard or chipset in common. In the case of the VIA chip, it was paired with a motherboard using the VIA VX11H chipset).

Processor VIA Isaiah II Quad Core AMD Athlon 5350 Intel Atom Z3770
CPU Arithmetic 20.00 GOPS 22.66 GOPS 15.10 GOPS
CPU Multimedia 50.20 Mpix/s 47.56 Mpix/s 25.90 Mpix/s
Multicore Efficiency 3.10 GB/s 4.00 GB/s 1.70 GB/s
Cryptography (HS) 1.50 GB/s 1.48 GB/s 0.40 GB/s
PM Efficiency (ALU) 2.90 GIPS 2.88 GIPS 2.50 GIPS
Financial Analysis (DP FP64) 3.00 kOPT/S 3.64 kOPT/S 1.50 kOPT/S

For comparison, The Atom Z3770 is a quad core clocked at 1.46 GHz (2.39 GHz max turbo) with 2MB L2 cache and Intel HD Graphics clocked at up to 667 MHz supporting up to 4GB of 1066 MHz memory. Bay Trail is manufactured on a 22nm process and has a 2W SDP (Scenario Design Power). Further, the AMD "Kabini" Athlon 5350 features four Jaguar CPU cores clocked at 2.05 GHz, a 128-core GCN GPU clocked at 600 MHz, 2MB L2 cache, and support for 1600 MHz memory. AMD's Kabini SoC is a 28nm chip with a 25W TDP (Thermal Design Power). VIA's new chip allegedly supports modern instruction sets, including AVX 2.0, putting it on par with the AMD and Intel options. 

Processor VIA Isaiah II Quad Core AMD Athlon 5350 Intel Atom Z3770
CPU 4 Cores @ 2.00 GHz 4 Cores @ 2.05 GHz 4 Cores @ 1.46 GHz (up to 2.39 GHz turbo)
GPU ? 128 GCN Cores @ 600 MHz HD Graphics @ (up to) 667 MHz
Memory Support ? 1600 MHz 1066 MHz
L2 Cache 2 MB 2 MB 2 MB
TDP / SDP ? 25W 2W
Process Node ? 28nm 22nm
Price ? $55 $37

The SiSoft Sandra benchmarks spotted by TechPowerUp suggest that the Centaur Technology designed chip has potential. However, there are still several (important) unknowns at this point. Mainly, price and power usage. Also, the GPU VIA is using in the processor is still a mystery though Scott suspects an S3 GPU is possible through a partnership with HTC. 

The chip does seem to be offering up competitive performance, but pricing and power efficiency will play a major role in whether or not VIA gets any design wins with system OEMs. If I had to guess, the VIA chip will sit somewhere between the Intel and AMD offerings with the inclusion of motherboard chipset pushing it towards AMD's higher TDP.

If VIA prices it correctly, we could see the company making a slight comeback in the x86 market with consumer facing devices (particularly Windows 8.1 tablets). VIA has traditionally been known as the low power x86 licensee, and the new expanding mobile market is the ideal place for such a chip. Its past endeavors have not been well received (mainly due to timing and volume production/availability issues of the Nano processors), but I hope that Centaur Technology and VIA are able to pull this one off as I had started to forget the company existed (heh).

Source: TechPowerUp

August 19, 2014 | 11:53 PM - Posted by AMDBumLover (not verified)

old news...

August 20, 2014 | 03:20 AM - Posted by JohnGR

Yeap, old news. The only new is that the counter is nearing to zero and this article is a good reminder. I had completely forgot about this one.

There are two problems with the VIA chip. The first is that we don't know it's power consumption numbers.
The second is that the gpu is still part of the chipset and not part of the cpu. We don't have an APU here. Just a cpu. And the chipset I think it will be a problem like in the case of the first Atoms where the chipset was using more power than the Atom itself. If I read it correctly we have a chipset at 40nm with 6 PCIe lanes, two SATA 2.0 ports, 3 USB 3.0 ports and VIA Chrome 645/640 with DirectX 11 and OpenGL 3.2. The only good part is the good old Vinyl audio.
Well all these are inside a small Kabini without the need of a chipset. And no, VIA is not going to end up between Intel and AMD. It's going to end up far behind them in the power consumption numbers. Winning a couple of scores in Sandra is not going to save them with 10-15 extra watts power consumption, poor video performance and SATA 2.0 disk support. They need to move to a SoC if they need to succeed and I hope this new processor is just the final step before going there.

August 20, 2014 | 09:26 AM - Posted by Does (not verified)

An APU is not a mere CPU and GPU on the same chip, it's a chip with multiple processors on-die, Sharing virtual memory, with the ability for CPU cores and GPU "cores" to share execution of processes/threads without context switching and/or going through recompilation.

Secondly, Kabini is no longer in business. Beema chips have replaced Kabini, and the highest end Beema chip is rated at 15 Watts TDP and runs faster than 25W Kabini.

Lastly, X86 is soon going to face a fierce competition from ARMv8-R in the high-end/performance market. AMD's upcoming K12 custom ARMv8-R APUs are rumored to run faster than their K12 X86 APUs.

August 20, 2014 | 09:37 AM - Posted by JohnGR

It's like I am reading a PR from AMD's marketing department.

And no, Kabini is used in the AM1 platform. It's in business, more than ever before, and it will continue being in business as long as there is no Beema in AM1 to replace it.

August 20, 2014 | 11:07 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Single chip chipset VIA VX11H MSP has max TDP 5.8W and its using 40nm advanced proces technology.

August 21, 2014 | 06:57 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Thanks for the additional info :).

On another note: As covered on this weeks podcast, note that the 2W Intel figure in the table is SDP and TDP is closer to 10W. I noted it was SDP in the text but not the table, sorry for any confusion.

August 20, 2014 | 06:40 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I really hope they succeed with these chips.
The only choice for X86 being American companies is a sad situation for the rest of the world.

August 20, 2014 | 07:12 AM - Posted by Pedr0 (not verified)

And you'd rather have one made by the "Formosa Plastics Group"???

August 20, 2014 | 02:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Are you stupid or just retarded?

Centaur Technology is an American company, based in Austin, Texas. They design the cores at their office in Austin, Texas.

August 20, 2014 | 08:53 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How does being limited to American companies make it sad? If Intel was based out of Spain it would make it cheaper? If AMD were based in India, it would be better some how?

Explain your logic, please.

August 20, 2014 | 11:34 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Maybe the person means that American companies are big monolithic monopolistic entities, that will milk the technology, rather than advance the technology, the milking as they are currently doing in the absence of any real and meaningful competition. Maybe the tech industry, is not so different from the Oil industry of the past, as far as markets go, and the entire Tech industry, Cable companies included, is in need of some good, Teddy Roosevelt populist style trust busting, for the common good. And why just hope for x86, when there is Power8(Reference designs) CPUs, and ARMv8 ISA based custom(and Reference CPUs design) SOCs, up for/has always been up for, licensing. It will just take one overseas motherboard maker to begin to produce for the enthusiast market a product that can host a Power8(there will be non IBM made variants arriving in 2015, using the reference CPU designs), and its fun time in the gaming market again, and don't think that there will not be software and games that will not run on the Power8, as there are already Linux variants running on the Power8 ISA, IBM investing 3 billion+ dollars, and partnering with the large Linux distro makers. M$ for sure has a version of Windows ported for power8, yesterday. The x86 ISA is completely locked down for the original cross licensees, never to grow, only to get smaller, while the ARMv8(and other variants), and the Power8, MIPS, and other ISAs are up for unlimited new licensees. The Licensed IP/ISA market will do for the markets, what the American antitrust regulators have been unwilling(read big donations to politicians) to do, that is bring real competition to the market via the licensing of competitive ISAs, those Power8 are Xeon eaters, and the Custom ARMv8 ISA based variants are taking a bite out of ATOM, and going on for some i3 dinner.

August 21, 2014 | 06:40 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It's not about the price. It's about the hardware and firmware backdoors ( like intel's rigged hardware random number generators, Dell's and HP's compromised servers).
And the fact that giving money to an American company indirectly gives money to the American surveillance apparatus. I'm sure there are other dragnets out there, but the immense scale of the NSA makes it by far the most ominous one.

August 20, 2014 | 10:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Let's hope that VIA can get the PowerVR wizard GPU with the integrated Ray Tracing hardware, to go along with its x86 custom microarchitecture. The High end Tablet SOC war has just begun, and Apple, Nvidia, AMD, and others will have to innovate or die. Hopefully Via does not have tunnel vision around just the x86 market, and is going to be producing some custom wide order ARMv8 ISA products to compete with Nvidia's tegra K1, and whatever custom ARMv8 ISA based AMD SKUs that will come in the next year. AMD and Nvidia have the graphics, but that PowerVR wizard mobile GPU is the start of something good, that hopefully will find its way into All GPUs(dedicated ray tracing Hardware), hardware that will free graphics(professional and gaming), from having to even consider the need for CPUs with core counts above 4 cores for any rendering workloads. There are more ISAs out there for licensing, and ARM, Power8, and MIPS, can be licensed by anyone, not like x86 that has a set number of licensees that will never grow. The ARM ISA for sure, in its custom ARMv8 ISA based variants will compete with x86, and 2015 begins the arrival of the, non IBM only, Power8s, from its Licensees. The More ISAs the Better.

August 20, 2014 | 05:09 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

They dont need PowerVR.

They have x86 (Centaur Technology x86 desing division) and ARM (WonderMedia ARM SoC desing division) and they have also in the portfolio S3 Graphics (HTC).

Last year licensed the technology Apical and Tensilica and this year bought Deploys Synopsys' Formality Ultra to Shorten Design Schedules by Weeks.

Their x86-64 VIA "Isaiah II" microarchitecture CN-R can work with the same graphics core (VIA/S3G Chrome 600 - Series) as VIA ARM SoC. microarchitecture (VIA Elite E1000). And they have many technology patent etc.

And look to who's Contributors Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) Foundation: VIA, S3 Graphics, Apical, Tensilica, Synopsys.

They have everything they need to produce a hybrid x86 ISA & ARM ISA.

August 20, 2014 | 07:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Does the Via Chrome 600 - series have hardware ray tracing, so I don't have to wait hours running the ray tracing on too few CPU cores, I am tired of waiting for CPUs to provide more than a token number of cores. Ray tracing done on a massively parallel GPU would be great, provided that each GPU core gets the circuitry to compute the ray interactions, and even if the GPU just included the ray tracing circuitry in a third of the GPU's cores, it would still greatly outnumber the measly amount of cores on even a Xeon server chip. So yes they could use the PowerVR, and a successful PowerVR wizard would force AMD and Nvidia to add ray tracing hardware to their GPUs, and I could tell the CPU makers, no thanks, I do not need you overpriced cores, the GPU can handle the ray tracing just fine, so just explain to me just what what your non cogent babble and name dropping means!!!!

August 20, 2014 | 07:52 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Edit: waiting for CPUs

To: waiting for CPUs manufactures