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Nano vs. Atom: VIA goes on the offensive

by Parm Mann on 4 August 2008, 15:04

Tags: VIA Technologies (TPE:2388)

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Back in March, Intel announced its low-power Atom processor for mobile devices and we've since seen an avalanche of Atom-based systems.

Intel's competition, announced in May, came in the form of VIA's Nano processor. The successor to VIA's ageing C7 chips was said to offer four times the performance whilst keeping within the same power envelope.

Back then, when asked about performance in comparison to Intel's chip, Glenn Henry, president of Centaur Technology, said: "The Nano is definitely faster, I said that originally and I'm very sure of that now."

However, Intel's Atom has gone on to power just about every netbook known to man, whilst VIA's Nano seems to have been all but forgotten. In an effort to remind us all about the Atom-beating alternative, VIA has served up a video demonstration highlighting Atom's shortcomings.

The demonstration, viewable below in YouTube format, shows two notebooks playing a 1080p HD video. One notebook features a 1.3GHz VIA Nano processor, and the other a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor. The result is clear for all to see:

1080p playback is Atom's Achilles’ heel and proves to be a significant drawback to media-centric systems such as the ASUS Eee Box. Though VIA's Nano seems to breeze through 1080p material with ease, it also uses more power. Intel's 1.6GHz Atom chip has a TDP of 2.5W, VIA's more power-hungry 1.3GHz Nano measures in with a TDP of 8W.

Though we don't discount VIA's efforts, and accept that its chip may well be the superior option in terms of performance, we're getting anxious in our wait for an actual Nano-powered netbook to put to the test.



HEXUS Forums :: 9 Comments

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Whats the point in 1080p playback on a 7/9/10" screen? even 720p is pretty pointless...

Whilst i can fully see the point in their product with regards to media playback the market they are aiming at with this marketing video seems to be be a bit wrong.

In the mini-note/netbook whatever you want to call it market the over 3x power consumption is the number that matters. In my opinion, what you want is excelent battery life so therefore the compromise on performance is acceptable.

HTPCs are computers which are going to be used in the home for prolonged periods of time, often as use as servers aswell as entertainment playback so low power which doesnt compomise on performance is the ultimate goal.

At the right price point i think they would sell these things like mad to the HTPC market, just need to get thier marketing more directed towards that goal.
so, when do i get to do a scathing linux-based head-to-head?
From what I remember from reading, the platforms together utilise much the same in terms of power. Intel have a chip that uses less power, but a much more power hungry chipset - VIA however have a more power hungry chip, but, a less power hungry chipset - leading to roughly similar figures.

Interesting comparison, doesn't make my task of deciding which "netbook" to buy any easier!
Biscuit
Whats the point in 1080p playback on a 7/9/10" screen? even 720p is pretty pointless...

Whilst i can fully see the point in their product with regards to media playback the market they are aiming at with this marketing video seems to be be a bit wrong.

In the mini-note/netbook whatever you want to call it market the over 3x power consumption is the number that matters. In my opinion, what you want is excelent battery life so therefore the compromise on performance is acceptable.

HTPCs are computers which are going to be used in the home for prolonged periods of time, often as use as servers aswell as entertainment playback so low power which doesnt compomise on performance is the ultimate goal.

At the right price point i think they would sell these things like mad to the HTPC market, just need to get thier marketing more directed towards that goal.


Now this might not be valid but i could think of one reason for good hd playback, the user could buy it and hook it up to a bigger screen (possibly their main tv, like 40") when they want to watch some films. It makes it a portable media center, can perform alot of main tasks and good enough, my dads old centrino 1.6ghz(i think its that lol) is still goin strong and its perfect, sure its not as fast as this dual core in my rig but it helps getting the basic tasks done and light gaming, if the price is right then it has space in the market. For me i either go for the very low end or high end and then middle, if i want to compromise on performance i feel im might as well go the full wack but this can offer a bit mroe than the atom in theory, the atom can keep the low end and this be the higher end/mid range laptop.

Havent heard from via in awhile so i cant wait for reviews to come out for it.
Netbook = Small hard drive which means the chances of being able to use it as a media centre are quite limited unless you have all the the media stored on an external (reducing its portability) or having all the media stored elsewhere on a network which would eliminate the point in having two seperate devices for the purpose.