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Computex: C3 power low

Taipei or not Taipei – sorry we had to say it

In a few weeks, British PC maker Evesham will be advertising a £499 750MHz desktop machine that uses a novel processor chip, the C3.

The C3 was unveiled at the Computex computer show in Taipei, Taiwan by chipset maker Via. Chipsets are the often overlooked but vital ‘glue’ components that link a computer’s processor to the other parts of the system, such as memory and graphics.

Evesham confirmed it would start selling the C3-based system this summer. Called the Quest C3-750, the PC will ship with a 17in monitor for £459.99 ex VAT (£540.48 inc VAT). Perhaps better still, the base unit alone will be sold for £399 inc VAT.

The C3 processor, said Via president Wenchi Chen, is intended for the 90 percent of customers who don’t need the fastest PC chips from Intel or AMD. But it also has very low power consumption, making it particularly suitable for mobile computers.

For example, an 800MHz C3 won’t need a fan. So a mobile PC using the chip can be smaller and run for longer on conventional batteries than one based on, say, Intel’s recently launched ultra-low-power Pentium III, which typically uses three times as much power as a C3 running at the same speed.

There is a downside – the C3 doesn't have the same floating point abilities as an Intel chip. This is how Via gets the power consumption down on the chip, but also means processing ability as to suffer.

None of the brand-name PC makers have come out and said they’ll build a mobile unit using C3 yet. But as a chipset provider, Via works with them all - Compaq, IBM, Sony, Gateway, HP.

A mobile PC which runs for eight hours on a single charge, doesn’t whirr like a Flymo, and doesn’t burn a hole in your trousers should be here before the end of the year, according to Mr Chen.


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