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Dual-core Via Nano coming this year

Chipmaker lays out plans for netbook processor

Via Technologies says plans for a dual-core Nano processor remain on track, but said recent news reports about its product plans confused this chip with another upcoming version of the processor, the Nano 3000.

"The Nano 3000 isn't dual-core. It's a different version of the Nano that's based on a more advanced manufacturing process," said Richard Brown, Via's vice president of corporate marketing.

In May, Via disclosed plans to release a dual-core Nano processor produced using a 45-nanometre process, saying the chip should be ready by the end of 2009. That schedule remains on track, with Brown saying the first dual-core Nano processor is set to arrive during the fourth quarter.

He did not say when computers based on the dual-core chip will be available.

The Nano 3000 processor will hit the market during the third quarter of this year, Brown said. This chip packs a single processor core but is manufactured using a more advanced version of the 65-nanometre process that's used to produce the Nano 1000 and 2000 series processors.

The more advanced manufacturing process will give the Nano 3000 better performance and lower power consumption compared to the 1000 and 2000 series, he said.

Via also plans to release an updated chipset for the Nano, which will offer lower power consumption than its current VX800 chipset. The new chipset is due in April.

Via is pitching the Nano processor at ultraportable laptops with screens that measure 12in to 13in instead of smaller laptops with screens up to 10in, which are commonly called netbooks. Via is pushing its low-power C7-M processor for netbooks.

The netbook space has seen fast growth over the last six months, largely thanks to the release of Intel's netbook platform, a chip package based around its low-cost, low-power 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor. But Intel has set limits on the specifications of laptops built using this platform, and Via sees an opportunity for Nano-based laptops with slightly larger screens.

A couple of laptops based on the first version of the Nano will be on show at the International Computer Electronics Show being held in Las Vegas this week, Brown said, adding these machines will likely be go on sale to consumers during February or March.

There has been lots of speculation that one of those laptops could be sold by Samsung Electronics. Rumours of a Nano-based Samsung laptop have been circulating online for a couple of weeks, with the machine reportedly set to go on sale in February. Both Samsung and Via have declined to comment on the rumours.

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