VIA touts all-in-one chipset for UMPCs

Early Intel-powered Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) have suffered unfavorable reviews due in part to their poor battery life, but VIA is offering an alternative with a new VX700 chipset aimed at UMPCs. The VX700 combines north bridge, south bridge, and integrated graphics processor functionality in a single chip, allowing a claimed space savings of 43% over competing Intel designs. Additionally, VIA touts the VX700 as more power-efficient than traditional north bridge and south bridge arrangements, with a rated (PDF) thermal design power of just 3.5 W. In contrast, the Intel 915GMS chipset used in Samsung's Q1 UMPC is rated (PDF) for a TDP of 4.8 W.

Despite its small and power-efficient design, the VX700 packs a decent array of features. It supports up to 4 GB of DDR2-533 RAM, and its integrated UniChrome Pro 2 IGP handles MPEG-2, MPEG-4, and Windows Media Video 9 hardware acceleration. On the I/O front, there's room for DVI and HDTV outputs, two 300 MB/s Serial ATA ports, one IDE channel, and six USB ports.

VIA expects the VX700 to ship in volume in the latter part of this quarter, and a company called DualCor already plans to use the chipset in its upcoming cPC device. Compared to Samsung's Q1, the cPC is 0.6 lbs lighter and a couple of inches shorter in both width and height. DualCor claims up to eight hours of battery life, which is considerably longer than the Q1's three-hour battery live. The cPC is an odd example, though; it has both a VIA C7-M processor and an embedded Intel chip, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 and Windows Mobile 5.0 operating systems, and its expected launch price is a whopping $1,500. Let's hope more orthodox VIA-powered UMPCs will be able to provide similar space and battery savings at lower prices.

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