Via stops making P4 motherboards, reshapes strategy

In a move that reshapes Via Technologies Inc.'s motherboard product strategy, the company has stopped selling Pentium 4 motherboards, a company executive confirmed.

"It's true that we have stopped making P4 motherboards," said Richard Brown, Via's associate vice president of marketing, in an e-mail. "This is because all our customers are now using our P4 chipsets, so we don't feel that we can add any particular additional value by continuing to make them ourselves."

Motherboards are a principal PC component and carry many of the chips vital to a computer's operation, including the processor, chipset and slots for add-in cards, such as graphics cards. Via began selling motherboards under its own brand name in October 2001 in an effort to promote sales of its original Pentium 4 chipset, the P4X266.

The company decided to sell its own Pentium 4 motherboards through its Via Platforms Systems Division (VPSD) as a result of a patent dispute with Intel Corp. that was primarily related to the front-side bus that is used with Intel's flagship desktop PC processor. That legal battle, which involved 11 lawsuits in five countries, caused major motherboard makers to avoid using Via's chipsets for fear they would get entangled in litigation with Intel.

Those lawsuits were resolved in April, with Intel and Via signing a 10-year cross-licensing agreement as part of a settlement that will see Via pay royalties to Intel for certain products.

With the Intel lawsuit behind it, Via is now refocusing the VPSD group to focus on a smaller motherboard form factor, the EPIA Mini-ITX, first introduced by the company in April 2002. Designed to be used with Via's C3 and Eden microprocessors, the EPIA Mini-ITX measures 170 millimeters by 170 millimeters and is intended for use in smaller computing devices, such as set-top boxes and PCs for home entertainment applications.

In addition to the Mini-ITX, Via also sells motherboards in other form factors, including ATX (305 millimeters by 244 millimeters) and MicroATX (244 millimeters by 244 millimeters). The majority of these boards are designed to be used with the Pentium 4 and have been discontinued.

"From now on the focus of VPSD will be on further building up the EPIA Mini-ITX business," Brown said. "This platform is continuing to gain very strong traction in the market, and we see excellent potential for further building up this emerging segment."

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