We have been semi-patiently awaiting the arrival of netbooks based on Via's Nano processor, and Via was happy to tease us once again with the prospect at CES. The firm had a host of netbook designs on display, a handful of which were based on the Nano rather than the older (and too-slow) C7 processor. The one that really grabbed my attention was this design here:
That's the Dr. Mobile FreeStyle 1300n, which has an 11.6" display and is thus slightly larger than our favorite 10" netbooks like the Eee PC 1000 series. This system packs a Nano U2350 1.3GHz processor and a Via VX800 chipset with Chrome9 integrated graphics, and it should outperform an Atom-based netbook, at least in floating-point math intensive tasks, based on the results of our Atom vs. Nano benchmarks.
With a little larger size and a little more capability than the usual netbook, there could well be a place for this system in the market. Via says it's working to find the right arrangement for import of this system into North America, a task complicated by the apparent disappearance of Everex. The goal is for the 1300n to be available here in the February-March time frame for about $500. Cross your fingers, folks.
The Lengda V10A Mini-Note, pictured above, is a more conventional 10" netbook size, but it also has a Nano CPU and VX800 chipset. My notes fail to mention what the story is with distribution on this one, but here's hoping...
The Nano may yet find a way to crack the mobile market as time passes because, unlike Intel with the Atom, Via intends to improve the Nano's raw processing power rather than keeping performance steady and moving into smaller power envelopes. Along those lines, Via plans to introduce the Nano 3000 processor in mid-year, with a 25% reduction in power use and a 25% increase in performance. These gains will come from refinements to the chip, not a die shrink; the Nano 3000 will still be manufactured on a 65nm process.
Also coming in Q1 is a new chipset with a TDP rating of just 1.7W, and Via says it will include HD video decode and playback acceleration that should be capable of handling 1080p H.264 video streams.
Later, at the end of 2009, the Nano will make the jump to dual-core configurations, as well.
With luck, those of us in North America may finally get a chance to buy some of these goodies in '09. We shall see.