Via to ship smallest PC processor

Taiwanese chip vendor Via Technologies Inc. will begin shipping its smallest PC processor and motherboard before the end of the year, according to the company's chief executive officer (CEO).

Small enough to fit on the end of a finger, the Nano-BGA (Ball Grid Array) version of Via's 1GHz C3 processor measures 15 millimeters (mm) by 15 mm and was announced on Wednesday by the company's CEO, Wen-chi Chen, during a keynote speech at the Via Technology Forum, which is being held here with the Computex exhibition.

The Nano-BGA C3 uses the same silicon dye found in Via's existing C3 chips. However, the tiny Nano-BGA package that encases the silicon core of the chip has allowed Via to make it smaller, said Tim Handley, a Via spokesman.

The Nano-BGA C3 will be paired with a new motherboard form factor, the Nano-ITX, that is smaller than existing PC motherboards. Small motherboards like the Nano-ITX are crucial components for devices, such as computer-equipped TVs and home entertainment systems, that require a small footprint, Chen said.

The Nano-ITX motherboard measures 120 mm by 120 mm, substantially smaller than the Mini-ITX motherboard form factor, the smallest PC motherboard form factor measuring 170 mm by 170 mm. Both the Nano-BGA chip and the Nano-ITX board ship in volume by the first quarter of next year, Chen said. Pricing was not disclosed.

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