VIA probably isn't the first company you think of when compiling a list of CPU manufacturers, in fact most people would probably get as far as Intel and AMD then stop, but in certain specialised areas it is actually a fairly big player. The OQO Model 02 UMPC we reviewed last summer, for example, packed a VIA CPU. It should come as little surprise, then, that VIA is coinciding the full-scale launch of Intel's Penryn architecture with a revision of its own, and in some ways it is perhaps equally impressive.
The claim is that the new Isaiah CPU offers four times the efficiency its predecessor with the same clock speeds, power requirements and pin-layout which, if accurate, is a remarkable feat of engineering. Of course, Penryn is (usually) also a drop-in replacement for Socket 775 boards, but as impressive as the High-K/Metal Gate tech needed for the 45nm shrink is, it doesn't quadruple the chips power per watt performance, which is the stat that counts in the mobile devices likely to be using the CPU.
Of course just because it is designed for small, low-powered, machines doesn't mean the Isaiah can't pack a decent punch and indeed it looks set to do so. At the launch event a 1.2GHz CPU was seen playing back a Blu-ray movie with nary a problem, while a 1.8GHz model was able to play Crysis - although at detail settings unlikely to do the game justice.
I have to agree with office co-habitant and Editor of Bit-tech Tim Smalley, though, that the market for UMPCs is pretty much redundant now, although I also concur that in systems such as the Asus Eee PC (and any rivals yet to come), where out and out processing power isn't perhaps as big an issue as low power usage and efficiency, VIA's CPUs do still have a market. Not to mention any company offering a rival to Intel and AMD ought to be encouraged no matter what.