Computex - Via blazes trail to 0.13 micron chips

Via announced volume production of the chip, code-named Ezra, in a news conference at the Computex trade show here, at the same time announcing immediate availability of the first mobile version of the C3 processor, manufactured using the 0.13 micron process. Via declined to disclose pricing of the chips.

On Monday, also at Computex, Intel demonstrated a notebook using the low-power Mobile Pentium 3 processor code-named Tualatin, which will be made using a 0.13 micron process. The chip is scheduled to ship in the third quarter. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) also plans to make chips using a 0.13 micron process, beginning in the first half of next year with its server and workstation chip code-named Thoroughbred. The Appaloosa chip for value PCs and servers will follow with the 0.13 micron process, also in the first half.

The 0.13 micron manufacturing process allows chip vendor Via and contract foundry TSMC to pack more processing power into a given space than is possible with the 0.15 micron technique used in Intel's most advanced plants and other advanced foundries today. Many other processors are still made using a 0.18 micron process. The measurement indicates the width of the smallest gap between circuits on a chip. A narrower gap also boosts speed.

TSMC and other Taiwanese foundries do a large share of the contract manufacturing for "fabless" semiconductor vendors in the US and elsewhere that develop chip designs -- including Taiwan compatriot Via, a relatively little-known brand among consumers. Tuesday's announcement showed that rather than simply serving as the world's IT factory, Taiwan has in some respects moved to the forefront of hardware development. The chips Via unveiled Tuesday are likely to power low-end Internet access devices in homes, as well as portable PCs.

TSMC has also made progress toward the next generation of processor manufacturing, 0.10 micron. It announced earlier this year that had determined the basic chip-design rules for manufacturing at 0.10 micron and plans to begin production with that technology in the third quarter of 2002. It also said it is working with several IC (integrated circuit) companies on how to make their chips with 0.10 micron.

Via announced last December that it aimed to be the first to market with 0.13 micron processors by shipping the chips in the second quarter of 2001.

The 0.13 micron C3 processor, initially available in speeds up to 800MHz, will be used in a variety of Internet appliances, such as TV set-top boxes, that were on display in prototype form at the news conference. Via plans to follow up the current processor with a 1GHz version, though executives declined to comment on when that processor will be available.

The chip is designed for low power consumption and cool operation, for use in devices including value PCs, notebooks and Internet appliances, said C.J. Holthaus, a lead engineer at Via's Centaur technology division. The low operating temperature of the chip allows it to be cooled without a fan, reducing bulk, cost and noise.

"No other processor company can passively cool a gigahertz CPU," Holthaus said.

TSMC has begun volume chip production at two fabrication facilities, or "fabs" using eight-inch silicon wafers. It has verified a 0.13 micron product on a line using 12-inch wafers, the next generation of wafers, which will deliver far more chips per wafer for greater production efficiency. Production on one 12-inch fab will begin by the end of this year and on another fab early next year, according to the company.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?