VIA Technologies


VIA Technologies

Infobox Company
company_name = VIA Technologies
company_
company_type = Public (TSE|2388) [http://www.via.com.tw/en/company/]
foundation = 1987
location_city = flagicon|TaiwanTaipei
location_country = Taiwan, ROC
key_people =
industry = Computer
products = Chipsets, motherboards, CPUs
revenue =
operating_income =
net_income =
num_employees =
parent =
subsid =
homepage = [http://www.via.com.tw/ www.via.com.tw]

VIA Technologies (TSE|2388) is a Taiwanese manufacturer of integrated circuits, mainly motherboard chipsets, CPUs, and memory, and is part of the Formosa Plastics Group. It is the world's largest independent manufacturer of motherboard chipsets. As a fabless semiconductor company, VIA conducts research and development of its chipsets in-house, then subcontracts the actual (silicon) manufacturing to third-party merchant foundries (such as TSMC.)

History

The company was founded in 1987 from the "Symphony Company" in Silicon Valley by Wen Chi Chen (陳文琦), among others. He was employed at Intel before joining Symphony, and is still CEO of Symphony. Chen transferred the employees of Symphony to Taiwan to start chip production. VIA stands for "Very Innovative Architecture".

In 1992 headquarters was moved to Taipei, Taiwan.

In 1996 VIA played a major part in the PC Common Architecture standard group, pushing the switch from the ISA bus to the PCI bus.

In 1999 it acquired most of Cyrix (then a division of National Semiconductor) and also Integrated Device Technology's Centaur, marking its entry into the x86 microprocessor market. VIA is the maker of the VIA C3 and VIA C7 processors and the EPIA platform. The Cyrix MediaGX platform remained with National Semiconductor.

In 2001 VIA established the S3 Graphics joint venture.

In February 2005, VIA celebrated the production of the 100 Millionth VIA AMD chipset.

In August 29, 2008 VIA announced they were releasing official 2D accelerated Linux drivers for their Chipsets, and would soon release 3D accelerated drivers too. [http://linux.slashdot.org/linux/08/09/01/0023245.shtml]

Products

VIA's business focuses on integrated chipsets for the PC market. Among PC users, VIA is best known for its motherboard (core-logic) chipsets. However, VIA's products include audio controllers, network/connectivity controllers, low-power CPUs, and even CD/DVD-writer chipsets. PC and peripheral vendors such as ASUS then buy the chipsets for inclusion into their own product brands.

In the late 1990s, VIA began diversifying its core-logic business, and the company has since made business acquisitions to form a CPU division, graphics division, and a sound division. As advances in silicon manufacturing continue to increase the level of integration and functionality in chipsets, VIA will need these divisions to remain competitive in the core-logic market.

Market trends

While an established supplier of PC components, notably for the Super Socket 7 platform, VIA's present market position derives from the success of its Pentium III chipsets. Intel made the mistake of discontinuing development of its SDRAM chipsets, and stated as policy only RAMBUS memory would be supported going forward. Since RAMBUS was both more expensive at the time, and offered few if any obvious performance advantages, manufacturers found they could ship performance-equivalent PCs at a lower cost by using VIA chipsets.

While historically VIA chipsets had suffered compatibility and performance issues, especially regarding AGP implementations, an internal program to raise standards had also begun to show results. VIA's fast performing, stable, mature chipsets, suddenly found huge market appeal, and profits soared. Many companies that had previously maintained Intel-only buying policies, for the first time placed volume orders with VIA, and were satisfied with the results. Intel eventually restarted their SDRAM development, and produced the 815 chipset, with 133 MHz SDRAM support and a 133 MHz Front Side Bus CPU interface. As NVIDIA came out with the powerful nForce2 chipset for the Athlon, VIA's market share started to decline. At the same time, VIA benefited from AMD's popular Athlon processor, for which VIA sold millions of chipsets.

In response to increasing market competition, VIA decided to buy out the ailing S3 Graphics business. While the Savage chipset was not fast enough to survive as a discrete solution, with its low manufacturing cost it made an ideal integrated solution, as part of the VIA north bridge. Under VIA, the S3 brand has generally held onto a 10% share of the PC graphics market, behind Intel, ATI, and NVIDIA. VIA also includes the VIA Envy soundcard on its motherboards, which offers 24-bit sound.

While its Pentium 4 chipset designs have struggled to win market share in the face of legal threats from Intel, the K8T800 chipset for the Athlon 64 has been popular.

VIA has also continued development of its VIA C3 and VIA C7 processor, targeting small, light, low power applications, a market space in which VIA is still successful. In January 2008, Via unveiled VIA Isaiah, an 11 mm × 11 mm footprint, VM-enabled x86-64 processor expected to debut in Q1, 2008 for ultra-mobile PCs.

Legal issues

On the basis of the IDT Centaur acquisition, [cite web | title = VIA and Intel Settle Patent Infringement Cases | publisher = VIA Technologies, Inc | url = http://www.via.com.tw/en/resources/pressroom/2003_archive/pr030408patentcase.jsp | accessdate = 2007-03-12] VIA appears to have come into possession of at least three patents, which cover key aspects of processor technology used by Intel. On the basis of the negotiating leverage these patents offered, in 2003 VIA arrived at an agreement with Intel that allowed for a ten year patent cross license, enabling VIA to continue to design and manufacture x86 compatible CPUs. VIA was also granted a three year grace period in which it could continue to use Intel socket infrastructure.

See also

*Mini-ITX
*Pico-ITX
*Nano-ITX
*NanoBook
*VIA chipsets
*VIA C3
*VIA C7
*VIA Nano
*VIA Envy
*VIA CoreFusion
*EPIA
*List of VIA microprocessors

References

External links

* [http://www.via.com.tw/ VIA Technologies (Taiwan)]
* [http://www.viaarena.com VIA Arena Homepage]
* [http://www.viaarena.com/default.aspx?PageID=5&ArticleID=364 The 100 Millionth VIA AMD Chipset]
* [http://tuxmobil.org/cpu_via.html Linux on laptops and notebooks with VIA CPU]
* [http://www.chrome-center.net/ Chrome-Center]
* [http://www.flickr.com/photos/viagallery/ viagallery.com's photostream]


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