VIA announces x86-based mobile gaming console

VIA has announced the interesting Eve mobile gaming console with x86 roots and plenty of potential as a media playback device. Here are some highlights from Eve’s hardware spec, which is based on VIA’s Grace mobile console platform:

  • 533MHz Eden-N Processor on a 133MHz front-side bus
  • 128MB DDR266 SDRAM
  • 20GB hard drive
  • VIA CN400 chipset
  • S3 UniChrome Pro graphics with 200MHz core clock
  • VIA Vinyl six-channel audio with EAX support
  • 4″ 640×480 LCD display
  • two USB 2.0 ports
  • 802.11b Wi-Fi

Essentially, it’s a little PC running Windows XP embedded. With the help of a SIM card, Eve will leverage the Eden-N’s hardware cryptography engine to serve DRM-encrusted games through the GameDweller network. GameDweller doesn’t currently offer a list of available titles, but Eve’s x86 roots should make it easy to port a wide variety of titles to the device, if porting is necessary at all.


Eve was designed by the Ministry of Mobile Affairs, which is headed by Andrew Huang, the author of Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering. Hacking won’t be necessary to turn Eve into an open platform, though. According to the GameDweller Whitepaper, SIM cards will be sold that unlock Eve’s BIOS, leaving the device open for all sorts of interesting applications.


The Ministry of Mobile Affairs’ Eve FAQ claims the device will be available in the first quarter of 2005, just missing the holiday season.

Comments closed
    • indeego
    • 17 years ago

    I look at that thing and can only think of one thing: Tubesockg{<.<}g

    • Hallucinosis
    • 17 years ago

    errm… seems like this thing would die even if it hit the market today.

    • Hattig
    • 17 years ago

    So will VIA be opening up this design to third parties? That could sell it I suppose, if someone with some design skill comes along.

    I expect the specs might change as well in a year’s time.

    The VIA CPU isn’t very powerful, but at least it is x86 compatible and very small in it’s nanoBGA format. I expect that VIA will use 90nm processors and chipsets for this device.

    In fact, I think that if VIA is serious about this device, it should make a combined processor/chipset chip. It’d be useful for other devices as well, like the nano-iTX boards. This thing doesn’t exactly need all the support of an entire PC chipset! It can survive with 2 USB2 ports, 1 single SATA port for the integrated 1.8″ (I assume) HD, audio, memory controller, graphics controller and processor. Maybe 3 USB ports, one internally for the gamepad thing!

    Finally … price. That 20GB HD isn’t going to be cheap. Add in a license for XP Embedded. Battery. Screen. Chips. I’ve seen a price of $500 mooted – this needs to drop seriously to $300.

    Anyway, I’ll get a GBA-DS and/or PSP. The former will have good games, the latter will have that cool widescreen display.

      • indeego
      • 17 years ago

      I wouldn’t consider it anywhere above $100-$150g{<.<}g

    • kamineko
    • 17 years ago

    Interesting. The design looks pretty crappy, but it also looks like a concept render and not an actual device. Maybe they’ll change that.

    The speed’s not so great, but it should be good enough to play games up to roughly Quake III level, I think. That may not seem like much, but being able to carry that around offsets it a lot. And if this thing can do wireless networking, so you can play multiplayer wirelessly… It’d be a toss-up whether I’d want this or a PSP (assuming they fix the physical design of Eve). PSP will definitely have better graphics and all, but its resolution is definitely lower, and it uses proprietary discs. Eve would let me take a bunch of my old favorite games and play them anywhere. Hmm…

    • Namarrgon
    • 17 years ago

    Eve was designed by Bunny (Andrew Huang)?

    The same guy who now works for Infinium? Interesting.

    Cracking the Xbox really opened up his career…

    • d0g_p00p
    • 17 years ago

    Yet another console/handheld set for failure.

    • ExpansionSSS
    • 17 years ago

    this sounds pretty nice. Just flash a new bios in the bitch, and never pay for any of the games…. oh wait, did I just say that ?

    oh and one more thing:

    r[

    • Fr0st
    • 17 years ago

    Heh. “DRM-encrusted” That about sums up DRM, doesn’t it?

    • highlandr
    • 17 years ago

    Now, if they built a home-based version of this, able to play the same games, have a bit more power, and TV/Eth hookups, I would probably buy one, as a nice HTPC all-in-one. However, given that the Eden at that speed can’t handle Divx, it wouldn’t be much good right now. Also, it looks like it may have a hard time running anything but old or undemanding games. iven the specs, you can expect it to perform like a slow, underpowered Xbox.

    • MadCatz
    • 17 years ago

    From what I have read about PS3 and Xbox2, this thing seems kinda week. Especially using a graphics processor that has a number of problems already as it is.

      • snapa
      • 17 years ago

      Keep in mind that it is a *[

      • DreadCthulhu
      • 17 years ago

      This is a mobile system, yet should offer roughly the processing power of a PS2. Not shabby for a handheld.

    • Nelis
    • 17 years ago

    Well from the concept picture, it’s a bad design. I would think having that wicked bend in it like that would make it quite akward to carry around. You can’t put it in your pocket and more than likely will come with a carry case of some sort making it even larger package to carry. Unlike the gameboy advanced which is tiny and folds up. Probably going to have to impliment something like that…

      • ripfire
      • 17 years ago

      I think the concept picture was suppose to be a flat device, but then they decided to make it into clam-shell-like(?) and bent the graphics.

    • sativa
    • 17 years ago

    well with TVs limited resolution the processor doesn’t have to be all that fast for the graphics to look decent.

    • DreadCthulhu
    • 17 years ago

    Anyone know how well those Eden processors stand up against Athlons, P3’s, ect?

      • muyuubyou
      • 17 years ago

      I’d say right now their performance is similar to Celerons @ silimar clock speeds

        • unmake
        • 17 years ago

        Much worse, actually. Reviews on various mini-ITX sites have even the newest, fastest VIA CPUs /barely/ being able to play common mpeg4 (divx) videos.

        The thing reminds me of a toilet. I know VIA covets the ass-end of the market, but couldn’t they spend a little money and hire a decent design firm, like ideo?

          • Corrado
          • 17 years ago

          Uhm, my 700mhz Via C3 played divx, and DVD in softrware decoding just fine 3 years ago. they are now with newer cores, at 1.2ghz… i think it should be fine. esp with little OS overhead and apps designed speicifcly to run ont he Eden cpus.

            • DreadCthulhu
            • 17 years ago

            But the proc in this handheld is only 533 mhz. Now if they went with a 700 or 800mhz Eden, then you could get smooth divx playback.

            • Corrado
            • 17 years ago

            remember though, the divx decoder will be specifically writen FOR the chip. All optimizations, all features of the cpu. The 300mhz cpus in a PocketPC can play divx because of this reason. On top fo that there is not nearly as much OS overhead. Plus, who’s to say it doesn’t have optimizations for hardware mpg4 decoding via an add in chip, or in the display controller?

            • DreadCthulhu
            • 17 years ago

            You are right, if they do throw in an extra decoder chip, or right a good divx decoding program, then it should have too much trouble. Still, a faster proc would be nice.

            • mczak
            • 17 years ago

            No extra decoder chip is needed. Unichrome helps quite well there already. Handles (of course) color space conversion, iDCT and motion compensation.
            But yes, the cpu is quite slow. Integer-performance is probably close to about a celeron 433 or so, but floating point (important for games) is slower than even the good old celeron 300A (no, not overclocked!). Unichrome is also nothing THAT great for 3D, should just beat a TNT2 at least. Good enough for Quake-III style games with that resolution certainly…

            • unmake
            • 17 years ago

            I’m pretty sure PocketPC’s cannot play CD-sized, DVD-resolution MPEG4 files – I doubt a 533mhz VIA CPU could either – but if this thing has hardware-assisted MPEG4 playback, as VIA claims, it may be possible, I guess.

            • Corrado
            • 17 years ago

            640×480 is not dvd resolution….

            • kamineko
            • 17 years ago

            No, but it’s close enough. 4:3 DVDs are roughly 720×480, and widescreen DVDs can be about 850×480. In either case, 640×480 would still be better than the PSP’s 480×272.

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