The real downside to attending tradeshows like CeBIT is that you end up running from one meeting to the next, with a few press conferences thrown in for good measure. VIA held one of the largest press conferences of the show launching a wide range of new products covering everything from sound and graphics chips to its new nano-ITX platform.
VIA announced a new partnership with Pinnacle. With Pinnacleâ€™s merger with Steinberg, VIA can now ensure even better support for its Envy sound chips in Cubase VST. This is great news for any musicians out there, as the Envy range is used in most high-end music production sound cards. VIA will also be offering certain Steinberg products with its Envy products, but it wasnâ€™t entirely clear how this was going to be distributed through to the consumers.
S3 announced a range of new graphics chipsets, with the Omni Chrome being the most interesting product. The Omni Chrome is S3â€™s first stab at an All-in-Wonder style product, but it will not have the top of the range 3D accelerator. What it should provide is good value for money, a Philips TV tuner and support for composite video in and out. Two new DeltaChrome products were also announced, a speed bump of the current S8 and the S4, a more mainstream product.
A DeltaChrome S4 board from Chaintech
S3 was also showing of its new GammaChrome PCI Express card and TrustedReviews did of course manage to grab a picture of a reference board in the VIA booth. According to S3 this is a fully native PCI Express card and S3 is working closely with all the chipset manufacturers to make sure it is compatible with all the PCI Express chipsets that are expected to arrive before the end of quarter two this year.
S3 GammaChrome reference board
VIA launched a wide range of chipsets including the CN400. This is a new chipset for the mini and nano-ITX platforms. It features MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 hardware acceleration and integrated S3 UniChrome Pro graphics. The bus speed has also been increased from the 133MHz level of its predecessor to 200MHz and VIA has a range of new low power processors to go with this. This leads us to the new nano-ITX platform which is going to be based on 12 x 12cm motherboards. The retail name for this new product will be Epia-N and it will feature the new Eden-N processors which measure a mere 15 x 15mm and boasts a core speed of 1GHz.
VIAâ€™s new Epia-N motherboard in a limited edition wooden box
VIA was also showing off some pre-built Epia-N systems which were tiny. These are ideal if you want a computer that you can hide in your desk drawer. These machines will also be completely silent as the systems on show were passively cooled.
A tiny Epia-N based system
Finally some more mainstream products were also announced, like the new PT890 chipset for Pentium 4 and the K8T890 for Athlon 64/Opteron, both supporting PCI Express. An interesting point here is that both chipsets support AGP and PCI Express on the same board, although not simultaneously. This should prove to be an excellent transition product that I would expect many of the motherboard manufacturers to be interested in. There will also be a new southbridge to go with the new chipsets, but VIA stated that motherboard manufacturers can still use the current southbridge. The new VT8251 southbridge adds support for two PCI Express x1 connectors as well as support for Intelâ€™s new Azalia high definition onboard sound.
VIA K8T890 reference board with AGP and PCI Express x16 slot.
PT890 motherboards from various manufacturers on display at VIAâ€™s stand
Also on display were boards running with DDR2 memory like this PT890 motherboard.
Crucial DDR2 memory samples in a VIA PT890 reference board.