No technology limits for Via's Nano chip, unlike Intel Atom

Via will not restrain the specifications of Nano-based laptops unlike Intel, which is restricting the features of laptops that use Atom processors

While Intel has set limits on the types of technologies that can used with its Atom processor, Via Technologies is giving laptop makers free rein when it comes to choosing specifications for systems based on its latest processor, the Nano.

"There's no limitation in terms of Windows Vista support, Blu-ray, all those sorts of things," said Richard Brown, vice president of marketing at Via.

Intel has set some technology limits on Atom-based laptops to make sure the low-cost chips -- which run about US$30 each, according to a major Taiwanese hardware maker -- do not encroach on sales of Intel's flagship mobile processor, the Core 2 Duo. At the time of writing, pricing for the Core 2 Duo mobile chips ranged from US$284 to $637.

As a result, hardware makers cannot use the Atom in laptops with a screen size greater than 10 inches or incorporate AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port), a high-speed connection that links the chipset with a graphics card. Via hopes to exploit these restrictions by pushing the use of Nano in laptops with screens that measure 10 inches or less, as well as in bigger form factors, such as machines with a 12-inch screen.

The Nano, formerly called Isaiah, will continue to be sold alongside Via's C7 processors, Brown said, adding that C7 sales are higher than ever and will continue to have a place at the low-end of the market after Nano's release.

"The C7 volume is still growing and we're seeing good design wins, and a lot of momentum around mini-notes in particular," he said, referring to small, low-cost laptops.

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Sumner Lemon

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