Via's Chen maps PC industry changes

The blurring lines between consumer electronics and computing is changing the way that the PC industry works, according to Wenchi Chen, the president and chief executive officer of Via Technologies.

"What we are doing is not just technology anymore. What we are doing is more fun," Chen said in a keynote speech at the Computex 2004 exhibition.

"The products we are doing will be applications-based rather than in the past, where what we were doing was more computation-based," he said.

As the distinction between consumer electronics and computing devices shrinks, the x86 processor architecture used in most personal computers would be more important than ever before, Chen said. The venerable processor architecture supported all of the existing digital media formats and provided a platform for the development of future formats.

But while the hardware industry could continue to rely upon the existing processor architecture, it must become less rigid, with more room for creativity and for companies to experiment with new types of devices developed for specialised applications built around digital media, he said. "If the innovation is centralised, it's controlled," Chen said. "We don't think that will have a long life. That's more like a master-slave mode, this is a kind of liberation.

"We believe content will play a bigger and bigger role." Chen said.

There were growing opportunities for devices able to access on-demand services for communication, entertainment and education, he said. There would also be an increased need for servers for both storage and computational applications.

"The key industry challenge for all of us is that we are moving from commoditization to customisation," Chen said. Responding well to these opportunities would not be easy for the hardware industry, Chen said.

Vendors must respond to demand for digital consumer electronics products by working more closely together and producing products that users would enjoy using, he said

"A big challenge for all of us is shorter product development cycles," Chen said. "It's out job to bring a faster and shorter product development cycle to the general market.

"Closer cooperation between all of us is required to make this happen."

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Sumner Lemon

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