Some months back I was able to lay hands on the latest dual core VIA Nano processor, albeit an engineering sample made on the older 65 nm process from TSMC.  Now VIA has announced that their latest VIA Nano X2 chips are available at 40 nm.  This should have a very positive effect on the power consumption of systems based on these chips.

CES 2011: VIA Releases Nano X2 - Processors 5

When I took a look at the VIA Nano X2, it was a very solid processor with good overall performance.  At 1.6 GHz, the processor was able to compete with desktop processors clocked around the same area, but was slightly better when it came to power.  Now that these chips are finally at 40 nm, we should see a hefty increase in their efficiency.

CES 2011: VIA Releases Nano X2 - Processors 6

The  engineering board featuring the 65 nm based VIA Nano X2.

One aspect that I was honestly surprised at was the performance and power efficiency of the VN1000 integrated chipset.  This is a DX10.1 compliant unit, and it performed at a level comparable to the best that AMD and NVIDIA has.  It is also very comparable to the new Sandy Bridge 2000 series of integrated graphics.

CES 2011: VIA Releases Nano X2 - Processors 7

The VN1000 is a surprisingly good chipset, from a company with some real stinkers through the years.  For even lower power support, the VX900 chipset is also available.

The only real issue that VIA faces is the extreme amount of competition it now has in a niche that it once dominated on the X86 side.  AMD and Intel have very sound products that support the X86 world in the low power niche.  It is really unfortunate for VIA that they did not get out a 40 nm Nano X2 nine months ago, when 40 nm production finally had some space open up for customers other than AMD and NVIDIA.

Still, it is good that VIA is able to finally deliver these parts, and they will find a welcome home in quite a few products around the industry.  It just does not look to be as dominant as the Intel Atom and the AMD Brazos platforms when it comes to design wins.

CES 2011: VIA Releases Nano X2 - Processors 8