New VIA Chipset Offers 1080P, Availability Dubious

VIA Technologies is talking up its VX900 chipset, and promising that its new "media system processor" (MSP) will offer silky-smooth 1080P playback when paired with a VIA Nano 3000. "VIA's trail-blazing VX900 will bring welcome relief to those pining for the best view of HD video online," said Richard Brown, Vice President of Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. "The VIA VX900 represents the most complete solution for HD digital content consumption on the market today."

The VIA VX900 MSP features the VIA Chromotion HD 2.0 video engine, boasting hardware acceleration of the H.264 codec technology that is driving today's advanced online HD video streaming services. The VIA VX900 brings crisp, smooth 1080p HD video content to life without hogging key system resources or resorting to an additional third party decoder. Video of the Nano + VX900 smoothly decoding 1080P is below.

So far, so good, but note the phrase "when paired with a VIA Nano 3000." This is a difficult task to achieve, particularly if you're attempting to buy hardware that's price/performance equivalent to various other Intel and AMD solutions on the market. It's not just the VIA Nano 3000 parts that are in short supply, products built around the 2000 series are hard to find. The chips are out there—just not much. It's been almost two years since VIA seeded reviewers with Nano processors and encouraged direct comparisons against Intel's Atom. At the time, we were excited at the prospect that after years of work, VIA had a genuinely competitive product it could take head-to-head against Intel in a red-hot market segment. Back then, HP's Mini-Note 2133's was slated for a refresh that would upgrade the line to Nano processors instead of VIA's older C7 chips.

There was interest, there was excitement, and then there was nothing. There will supposedly be Nano 3000 + VX900 boards and chips on display at Computex but what we'd really like to see are a handful of design wins or a few motherboard manufacturers (besides Jetway) with competitively priced mini-ITX solutions. Two years later, there's still a potential market for Nano, but a chip you can't buy isn't much good to anyone.