VIA Technologies - Market Trends

Market Trends

VIA established itself as important supplier of PC components with its chipsets for Socket 7 platform. With the Apollo VP3 chipset VIA pioneered AGP support for Socket 7 processors. VIA's present market position derives from the success of its Pentium III chipsets. Intel discontinued the development of its SDRAM chipsets, and stated as policy that only RAMBUS memory would be supported going forward. Since RAMBUS was more expensive and offered few, if any, obvious performance advantages, manufacturers found they could ship performance-equivalent PCs at a lower cost by using VIA chipsets.

While historically VIA chipsets had suffered compatibility and performance issues, especially regarding AGP implementations, an internal program to raise standards had also begun, and VIA's fast and stable mature chipsets found market appeal, and profits soared. Many companies that had previously maintained Intel-only buying policies placed volume orders with VIA. Intel eventually restarted SDRAM development, and produced the 815 chipset, with 133 MHz SDRAM support and a 133 MHz Front Side Bus CPU interface. As NVIDIA came out with the powerful nForce2 chipset for the Athlon, VIA's market share started to decline. At the same time, VIA benefited from AMD's popular Athlon processor, for which VIA sold millions of chipsets.

In response to increasing market competition, VIA decided to buy out the ailing S3 Graphics business. While the Savage chipset was not fast enough to survive as a discrete solution, its low manufacturing cost made it an ideal integrated solution, as part of the VIA northbridge. Under VIA, the S3 brand has generally held onto a 10% share of the PC graphics market, behind Intel, ATI, and NVIDIA. VIA also includes the VIA Envy soundcard on its motherboards, which offers 24-bit sound.

While its Pentium 4 chipset designs have struggled to win market share, in the face of legal threats from Intel, the K8T800 chipset for the Athlon 64 has been popular.

VIA has also continued the development of its VIA C3 and VIA C7 processors, targeting small, light, low power applications, a market space in which VIA is successful. In January 2008, Via unveiled the VIA Nano, an 11 mm ├Ś 11 mm footprint VM-enabled x86-64 processor, which debuted in May 2008 for ultra-mobile PCs.

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