VIA Technologies unveiled its new VIA Eden-N processor at the 16th annual Microprocessor Forum conference in San Jose.
Based on a new streamlined Nehemiah core architecture the VIA Eden-N processor comes in a nanoBGA package measuring just 15mm x 15mm, less than half the size of the Intel Pentium M processor, to provide what Via claimed is the world's smallest, lowest power, native x86 processor.
Available at speeds of 533MHz, 800MHz, and 1GHz the new processor achieves a Thermal Design Power of only 6 watts at 800MHz and 7 watts at 1GHz.
The processor's low power consumption is of importance for small and quiet connected devices because it means that they can run without any cooling fans, significantly enhancing reliability during 24/7 operation. Its small size reduces motherboard real estate requirements, facilitating the development of smaller, more highly integrated footprints such as the forthcoming 12cm x 12cm VIA Nano-ITX mainboard form factor.
To address the growing need among corporate, government, and home users to protect sensitive data on their PCs and over networks, the VIA Eden-N processor adds new on-die security features to the existing PadLock Security Suite on the Nehemiah core, including the new PadLock Advanced Cryptography Engine (ACE) and two hardware based RNGs. PadLock ACE provides world-class performance for the US government approved Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), performing cryptographic functions for securing e-mails, personal files, online transactions, and networks, including 802.11g wireless networks.
Padlock ACE encrypts at rates of up to 12.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) with a 1GHz VIA Eden-N processor, which Via said is more than eight times faster than the best software AES implementation from a 3GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor based system that encrypts at a rate of 1.5 Gbps.
"The AES accelerator core in the VIA Eden-N processor provides developers with an easy-to-use and substantially faster substitute for current software AES implementations," said Benjamin Jun, Vice President of Cryptography Research, Inc. "Its high performance and simple programming model should increase deployment of network and disk encryption for embedded and PC security applications."
Unlike software RNGs or existing multi-chip solutions, the PadLock RNGs utilizes electrical noise on the CPU to generate high quality entropy for use in the creation of security keys. The entropy is stored in a collection buffer where it can be accessed directly via a dedicated x86 instruction set without the use of vulnerable software drivers.
Security applications that leverage the capabilities of the PadLock Security Suite can be deployed across a broad range of devices including PCs, thin clients, set top boxes, home digital entertainment centers, point of sale terminals, and intelligent network routers in a wide variety of wired and wireless networking environments. Potential usage scenarios include Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Corporate Peer to Peer Networks with restricted access for sensitive projects, and Home Wireless Networks.
The VIA Eden-N processor comes with performance features such as StepAhead Advanced Branch Prediction, sixteen pipeline stages, support for SSE multimedia instructions, a full-speed Floating Point Unit (FPU) and an efficiency-enhanced 64KB Full-Speed Exclusive L2 cache with 16-way associativity for memory optimization. For enhanced digital media applications such as DVD and audio playback, the VIA Eden N processor can be coupled with the VIA CLE266 chipset, featuring an integrated hardware MPEG-2 decoder, DDR266 SDRAM support, VIA Vinyl Audio integrated 5.1 surround sound, high-speed USB2.0 ports, and 10/100 Fast Ethernet.
The VIA Eden-N processor is sampling now and is expected to start appearing in secure networking, entertainment and communication devices in Q1, 2004.
For more information on the VIA Eden-N processor see the VIA Eden Platform