While Intel and Nvidia continue to take swings at one another over who has the best netbook platform, Via introduces a new energy-efficient chipset that has potential to outshine both.
The VX855 Media System Processor (MSP) is the new energy-efficient chipset from Via that brings support for 1080p high-definition video to Via's line of Nano, C7 and Eden processors. Designed for mobile PCs and SFF systems, the VX855 MSP features an HD video processor that is capable of providing smooth hardware accelerated playback of high bit-rate 1080p videos, including videos in standard formats, such as H.264, MPEG-2/4, DivX and WMV9.
“For the first time, system developers have an ultra low power media system processor that delivers high bit-rate HD video to small form factor and mobile devices,” said Richard Brown, VP of Marketing at VIA Technologies. “The VIA VX855 opens up exciting opportunities for several PC segments, particularly the mini-notebook category that will now be able to offer true 1080p HD video playback.
The package size of the new chip is 27 mm x 27 mm, which combines all the features of a modern North and South bridge, including an integrated Via Chrome9 HCM 3D graphics core and support for up to 4 GB of DDR2 800 MHz memory. The integrated graphics core has DirectX 9.0 support, up to 512 MB frame buffer memory, compatibility with Microsoft's upcoming Windows 7 operating system and a single-channel LVDS display interface, which according to Wikipedia only supports up to 1400 x 1050 resolution. The thermal design power (TDP) of the chip is just 2.3-watts, which is low enough for the chipset to run without a fan.
Although it seems a bit unnecessary for a netbook to be capable of 1080p video decoding, considering the lack of a large display on most netbooks, it is a feat that Intel's current netbook platform is mostly unable to achieve. Even though Intel's newest GN40 chipset for Intel Atom processors can handle low-bit 1080p video, it is unable to cope with 1080p Blu-ray video. Nvidia's Ion platform on the other hand may actually be able to handle Blu-ray video, but it does introduce an additional cost to a netbook and the lifespan of the Ion platform may be shorter than expected due to a licensing dispute between Nvidia and Intel.