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One-chip core logic eyes ultramobile PCs

Posted: 01 Sep 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:single-chip core logic platform? VX700? CoreFusion? C7-M processor? UniChrome Pro II IGP core?

Targeting the ultramobile PC market, Via Technologies Inc. says it is ready to ramp up a single-chip core logic platform that squeezes a host of connectivity options and multimedia acceleration into a 35mm? footprint.

The release of the VX700 is the precursor to a complete system-in-package called CoreFusion that will include Via's C7-M processor. It's due out later this year. The SiP will be the company's flagship product in the ultramobile PC arena, which is being promoted by Microsoft and executed by several PC design houses in Taiwan.

With the VX700 and its predecessor, the CX700, Via is bringing chipset development nearly full circle. About five years ago, Via rival Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) designed single-chip platforms for PCs, but the approach yielded large chips and eventually became too unwieldy, as south-bridge features rapidly changed. So SiS switched to a traditional two-chip implementation.

The VX700 returns to single-chip core logic, leveraging advanced chip-manufacturing technology to assuage the problems of large footprints that SiS had years ago. Via estimates the chip saves about 45 percent of board space by combining the north and south bridges, which gives system designers the option of adding in more features to ultramobile PC boards or using the space savings to reduce system size.

Graphics core
Via's push into graphics with its S3 Graphics division is reaping dividends in the VX700, which comes embedded with a graphics core that helps offload multimedia tasks from the CPU. Via's first push into single-package chipsets, the CX700, only included support for MPEG-2. But using the company's UniChrome Pro II IGP core with its 128bit 2D and 3D graphics, the VX700 has advanced video acceleration for MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9 and WMV-HD.

At the heart of the UniChrome is a 200MHz graphics engine with separate 128bit data paths, one for frame buffer access and the other for texture/command access. The Via VX700 is able to handle advanced 3D rendering, and is capable of two textures per pass with a triangle rate of up to 4.5 million triangles per second, a pixel rate of up to 200 million pixels/s and a texel bilinear fill rate of up to 400 million texels/s.

Connectivity and I/O features range from an audio controller supporting up to eight HD channels, support for SATA II and parallel ATA drives, six USB 2.0 ports and four PCI slots, as well as a multiconfiguration LVDS/DVI transmitter for connection to LCD and CRT/HDTV interfaces. The platform will support HDTV resolutions of up to 1,920-by-1,080i.

By using low-power design techniques like dynamic clock gating, the maximum power usage is 3.5W, nearly a watt less than a comparable traditional two-chip implementation from Via. It also supports power-management specifications such as ACPI 3.0 and APM v1.2, and CPU clock throttling and clock suspension during periods of lower activity.

The VX700 is expected to be available this quarter. Pricing depends on quantity.

- Mike Clendenin
EE Times

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