VIA Announce C7 Processors
May 27, 2005

VIA's C7 and C3 - together at last

VIA has officially announced a new range of processors, based on their next generation x86 compatible "Esther" core.

The C7 will be manufactured for VIA by IBM in Fishkill, New York using a 90nm Silicon on Insulator process. According to Glenn Henry, the President of Centaur Technologies and chief architect of VIA's processor design strategy it is “the culmination of many years of designing for the optimal balance of mobility, performance, and security”.

Clock speeds are expected to reach up to 2Ghz, with power consumption varying between 0.1W at idle and 20 Watts peak on a 2Ghz chip, with bus speeds up to 800Mhz possible. The C7's tiny 30 mm square die includes technology to reduce processor speed when computing loads are light: at 1GHz, consumption is a maximum of 3 Watts, and at 1.6GHz it is 12 Watts. This bodes well for low temperatures - though the fastest variants may still require some active cooling.

The C7 also features VIA's Padlock security suite, a combination of a hardware random number generator and cryptography engine - already available on existing VIA processors - but adds more layers to the cake with SHA-1 and SHA-256 hashing for secure message digests, and a hardware based Montgomery Multiplier supporting key sizes up to 32K in length to accelerate public key cryptography, such as RSA.

Although we eventually expect to see the C7 on a Mini-ITX board, VIA's target market is far wider: they would like to see the C7 in thin and light notebooks, mini PCs, green clients, home media centers and PVRs, and high density server and server appliances. Mass production is expected to begin at the end of Q2 2005, with 1.5GHz and 1.8GHz C7 notebooks reaching the shelves in India and elsewhere within a couple of months.

Current Mini-ITX boards are powered by various iterations of the C3 processor. Regular readers may remember VIA's processor naming convention change a few months ago.

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