TAIPEI Playing on the ultra mobile computing theme emerging at Computex this week, Via Technologies unveiled its tiniest reference design to date for a next-generation super portable PC.
Called the mobile ITX, the PCB measures 63mm x 45mm, a form factor that Via chief executive Chen Wen-chi easily pulled out of a his front pocket. "The motherboard is smaller than my name card," he said. "Our nickname for it is the business card ITX."
Based on a low-power 1.2GHz VIA C7-M processor that comes in a 9mm x 11mm package, Via expects the mobile ITX to enable substantial improvements to future ultra mobile PCs. "It gives us a lot more room for innovation, or system guys, for instance, can add in larger batteries, something that they weren't able to do with the earlier platforms because of space constraints," said CJ Holthaus, a CPU engineer at Via.
Via also unveiled a reference design for ultra mobile PCs that will start to show up in the market during the second half of 2007. Called the NanoBook, it is part of what the company calls PC 2.0, a movement toward ultra mobility that will eventually see the Internet act as the main storage and processing element for computing devices.
The NanoBook weighs less than 850g and measures 230mm x 171mm x 29.4mm. Aside from the C7-M processor, it includes Via's VX700 chipset featuring the Via UniChrome Pro II IGP integrated graphics core. The company promised between 4 and 5 hours of battery life.
The NanoBook runs on either Microsoft Windows XP or Windows Vista Basic operating systems. Features include a full keyboard, 7-inch WVGA screen with touch panel, up to 1GB DDR2 SDRAM, and a 30 to 60 gigabyte hard drive. Ports include Ethernet, a digital video interface, and two USB 2.0 slots. The wireless suite consists of built-in 802.11g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but users can add in GPS and 3G/CDMA wireless broadband modules via the USB slot.
One local ODM, First International Computer (FIC), has already designed a product based on the platform, and Via said Packard Bell, a European PC maker, would base its forthcoming EasyNote XS on the NanoBook. Pricing is expected to fall under $600, a point Via believes will drive it into the "mainstream consumer" market.