Via Technologies Inc (威盛電子), the often-overlooked third player in the microprocessor arena, said yesterday that Hewlett-Packard Co (HP) has decided to use its low-cost, low-power chips in new energy-efficient business PCs in the booming China market.
HP's decision to use Via processors in a new Compaq desktop computer marks a substantial win for Via's processor business, which trails much-larger rivals Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices Inc by a wide margin.
Taiwan-based Via occupies a sliver of the worldwide processor market, usually only commanding about 1 percent to 2 percent, with Intel and AMD essentially controlling the rest, according to Mercury Research.
Microprocessors are the core calculating engines inside computers, and Intel and AMD are waging a fierce battle for market share essentially without other competition. The bulk of Via's business comes from chipsets, which are computer chips that connect the microprocessor to other system components.
HP is already using Via products in lower-profile "thin client" PCs -- stripped-down computers that rely on a server to handle the bulk of the processing duties. In selecting the Via processors, HP becomes the first major computer maker to adopt the Via product for a mass-market item.
Via said each 1.5-gigahertz processor consumes just 20 watts of power, lowering the amount of electricity needed to operate each computer. The company said the new computers will help businesses in developing areas build advanced systems without incurring burdensome power costs.
"It is vital that companies across China, not just in the largest cities, gain access to the vast productivity, efficiency and online resource benefits of IT and the Internet," Chen Wen-chi (陳文琦), Via's president and chief executive, said in a statement.
Shares of Via, the nation's biggest maker of personal computer chipsets, rose NT$0.2 to NT$36 yesterday on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
In the face of competition from both Intel and AMD, Via's overall chipset market share has been decreasing for years. In November last year, the company worked to restructure itself in an attempt to strengthen its efficiency and competitiveness, and was reportedly dividing itself into three core business groups -- CPU Platform, System Platform and MCE (Multimedia Consumer Electronics).
In addition, the company was also reportedly in talks with Intel about prolongation of a license for Intel's processor system bus, under which the Taiwanese firm can sell chipsets featuring support for Intel's latest central processing units.
The Chinese-language Commercial Times reported on April 7 that Intel will license its chipset technology to Via, after Via's Chen reached consensus with Intel executives on a four-year licensing agreement.
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