Via Offers Mini-Laptop Motherboard Design - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers

Via Offers Mini-Laptop Motherboard Design

The Via Surfboard C855 incorporates a C7-M ultra-low-voltage processor and the new VX855 media system chipset that is capable of playing high-definition video.

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Via Technologies on Tuesday released a mainboard reference design that leverages its latest technology in building mini-laptops.

The Via Surfboard C855 incorporates a C7-M ultra-low-voltage processor and the new VX855 media system chipset that is capable of playing high-definition video. The design was unveiled at the Via Global Mobility Bazaar Tech Forum in Shenzhen, China.

The Surfboard C855 reduces development time and costs for system manufacturers, according to Via. The ability to play 1080p HD and support for internal display resolutions of up to 1,366 by 768 pixels is a key feature in the Via offering.

"Not only is VIA in the unique position of being able to offer customers a complete, ready-to-build solution, but the new board's HD capabilities mean VIA-based mini-notebooks will provide a superior multimedia entertainment experience," Richard Brown, VP of marketing for Via, said in a statement.

The Surfboard design is for mini-laptops with 10- to 12-inch screens, which is outside the size used in defining so-called netbooks. The popular laptops have screen sizes of 10 inches or less and cost less than $500 with many selling for as little as $300. In an attempt to differentiate their offerings in the fast-growing market, computer makers have been stretching the definition of the netbook with additional features and larger screens.

Via introduced the VX855 chipset this month, calling it an all-in-one medium system processor. The chipset integrates a DDR2 memory controller, a 400/800-MHz front-side bus processor interface and input/output capabilities. The technology makes HD playback possible on smaller laptops by taking the computing intensive task away from the core processor. The hardware supports a variety of video standards, including H.264, MPEG-2/4, VC-1, and WMV9.

Among the leading manufacturers of graphics processors, VIA suffered the most in the fourth quarter of last year, which is when the bottom fell out of the PC market as a result of the economic downturn. Shipments of VIA graphics processors fell nearly 72% year to year, while Intel shipments fell the least at nearly 21%, according to Jon Peddie Research.

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