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 PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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 News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?