VIA shows small laptop, tiny form factor

COMPUTEX — Enthusiast hardware may get a lot of attention at Computex, but mobility is the word on everyone’s lips. Asus introduced its new ultra-portable and ultra-cheap Eee PC earlier this week, Intel is working on its Mobile Internet Devices (we’ll have more on that later), and VIA is also hard at work on bringing PC hardware into the mobile space. At its keynote yesterday, VIA unveiled its NanoBook UMD reference notebook. Today, I sat down with Fiona and John Gatt from VIA Arena and got a chance to get up close to the reference system:

The NanoBook UMD features a 1.2GHz VIA C7-M ULV processor, a VX700 chipset, DDR2 memory support up to 1GB, a 7″ 800×400 display, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and other goodies. Battery life is expected to be around five hours, and the system weighs just 1.87lbs (850g). Target pricing is $600.

VIA’s other major introduction at Computex was its Mobile-ITX form factor. Mobile-ITX is essentially an evolution of the ITX concept, which has been producing smaller and smaller motherboards since its inception in the early part of the decade. Here, however, VIA has outdone itself:

To truly appreciate just how small the Mobile-ITX reference motherboard is, you have to see it next to a business card. It’s actually smaller than my card, which measures 90mm x 55mm (roughly 3.5″ x 2.2″):

The Mobile-ITX reference board sports a 600MHz VIA C7-M ULV S processor. That’s the smallest chip on the board, but despite that, it’s still based on 90nm process technology. On the core logic front, the reference board has a VX700 chipset that integrates north bridge, graphics, and south bridge functionality. VIA says the Mobile-ITX form design should largely be used in smart phones, where its x86 processor should provide better compatibility with existing Windows and Linux software or Flash-based websites.

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