Remember when Via used to make hardware for PC enthusiasts? Yeah, it's been a while. These days, the only Via chips that end up in enthusiast systems are USB 3.0 and FireWire controllers powering motherboard peripherals—hardly exciting stuff. If Via has its way, though, its silicon could soon end up inside your SSD. The company has chosen Tensilica to provide the SoC core that will anchor an SSD controller of its own design.
Tensilica calls its SoC cores DPUs, or Dataplane Processing Units, because they're focused on data processing rather than control logic. That focus apparently pays dividends for SSD applications, because Via "determined that Tensilica's DPUs provide over four times the performance of competing processors on key algorithms used to benchmark competitive alternatives." Tensilica didn't achieve that feat by jacking up clock speeds and adding cores; it seems to prefer simpler, low-power designs.
There's no mention of Tensilica or SSDs over at Via's official site, so we don't know more about the company's plans. Two things are certain, though: the SSD market is going to keep growing, and there are only a handful of controller makers serving it right now. There's certainly room for fresh blood, and given Via's history designing memory controllers for core-logic chipsets, the firm may be able to come up with a compelling product. Thanks to Xbit Labs for the tip.