Via's Nano gets a DirectX 10.1 chipset

Ever since Via subsidiary S3 Graphics started rolling out DirectX 10.1-compliant Chrome graphics processors, we've been quietly wondering when the same technology would show up in a Via chipset. Looks like that day has come. Via has announced the VN1000, a brand-new north bridge saddled with a DX10.1 graphics core, hardware Blu-ray decoding logic, and support for both DDR3-1066 and DDR2-800 system memory.

The VN1000's Chrome 520 integrated graphics component has the same architecture as S3's discrete Chrome 500-series GPUs. It has 32 stream processors, a 500MHz core clock speed, support for OpenCL 1.0 and Windows 7's Windows Desktop Driver Model 1.1 specification, and compatibility with DisplayPort and HDMI display outputs.

The IGP is outfitted with dedicated logic to decode H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2 video formats in hardware, which covers all three Blu-ray encoding types.  Via tells us that smooth Blu-ray playback will require a Nano processor clocked at 1.6GHz, though. What about Flash hardware acceleration? That's not in the feature list just yet; Via has left the implementation of that capability up to the S3 team, but it seems hopeful about the prospect.

Paired up with the VT8261 south bridge, the VN100 draws only up to 12W of power. The north bridge component alone draws 10W, and Via is hinting that a mobile version is in the works that could draw as little as 6W, in part thanks to a lower graphics clock speed of 400MHz. Puzzlingly, we weren't able to get a clear answer about the manufacturing process used to craft the VN1000's manufacturing process; we were told the chip is built on a 90-nm node, but discrete Chrome 500 GPUs are based on 65-nm process technology.

In any case, Via hopes to show us real implementations of the VN1000 by the time CES kicks off in early January 2010. The chipset will sit next to Via's Nano processors, of course, as well as C7, C7-D, and Eden chips.

Update 12/11: We've now gotten a clear response from Via. The VN1000 is manufactured on a 65-nm process.

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