Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: Although we weren't able to run all of the test we would have liked for this article due to an unforeseen problem with our Nano reference board, the few tests we were able to run painted a relatively clear picture of the CPU's performance. In general, the VIA Nano is a stronger performer than the Intel Atom across a variety of workloads. Our test setups prohibited an exact "apples-to-apples" comparison, but the performance deltas we recorded more than make up for the clock speed discrepancy between our test systems. While the VIA Nano L2100 processor we tested had a 200MHz, or 12.5%, higher clock frequency than the 1.6GHz Atom 230, it typically outperformed the Atom by more than 15% to 20% in the applications we tested.
It's clear from our limited testing of the VIA Nano that the company has a strong product at the ready. Virtually across the board, the Nano showed good performance versus its primary competition, and it has a number of other things going for it as well, like pin-compatibility with the established C7 core, an open platform, and hardware acceleration for certain types of encryption. Based on what we've seen here today, we hope many of the OEMs currently selling products based on the C7 adopt the Nano and offer products with increased performance. HP's Mini-Note 2133 in particular comes to mind. The 2133 is one of the more attractive netbooks currently on the market and it would be enhanced significantly by the performance of the Nano processor in our opinion.
We're hoping that VIA is able to announce some exciting design wins soon, because the ultra mobile market is hot right now and they've got a CPU well suited for the segment. VIA obviously can't compete with Intel in terms of marketing muscle and manufacturing, which means the landscape could change relatively quickly in this space, but for now, strictly speaking in terms of performance, the Nano is solid.