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Via folds two-chip set into single IC

Posted: 17 Apr 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Via Technologies? CX700?

Hoping to push further into the embedded market, Via Technologies Inc. has launched a single-chip chipset that packs just about all of the features normally included in its bulkier two-chip product lines.

Introduced at the Embedded Systems Conference, the CX700 offering is reminiscent of how rival Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. (SiS) used to combine the functionality of the north and south bridges into one monolithic piece of silicon. SiS eventually dropped that approach in favor of the flexibility of two-chip solutions in its mainstream PC markets. But it does maintain a single-chip solution for embedded applications that also includes an integrated X86-compatible 200MHz CPU, the SiS55x.

Via has no plans to integrate its low-power CPUs into a system-on-chip, and will instead stick with multichip-packaging solutions that bring together its CPUs and north bridges. But it is hinting that it will roll out more single-chip core logic in the coming months, with target applications such as low-cost portable computers.

Advanced nodes
The biggest obstacle remains the integration, yet some of the bugaboos that SiS encountered several years ago, including large footprints, have been somewhat assuaged by the advanced manufacturing nodes. The CX700, for example, is made on a 0.15?m process, versus what would have likely been 0.25?m for the SiS line.

The new core logic also supports its low-power C7 processor line, released last year, as well as its earlier Eden line, according to Via. Target applications range from point-of-sales terminals and industrial PCs to thin-client PCs and just about any of the exotic form factors that embedded hobbyists have ginned up for Via's Eden platform, including BBQ PCs.

Like the C7, the CX700 is a power miser, peaking out at 3.5W. At 37.5-by-37.5mm, it offers a 34 percent savings of board space compared with Via's two-chip offerings. There is standard support for MPEG2 video decoding acceleration, video post-processing, up to 4Gbit of DDR2 533MHz with ECC, and 32bit or 64bit system memory. The connectivity suite adds in support for serial ATA, SATA II and parallel ATA drives, two COM and six USB 2.0 ports, and four PCI slots. Board developers can also add an ITE PCI bridge chip for legacy support of ISA connectivity.

According to Via, Advantech, Diamond Systems, Freetech/Flexus Computer Technology and WinSystems have all adopted the single-chip product. Advantech is introducing the CX700 into its System On Module ETX series of add-on boards to support features such as dual screens, a standard TV out and direct LVDS/DVI.

The CX700 will ship in volume by the end of the Q2. Pricing is available upon request.

EE Times

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