In case you had any doubts that VIA’s upcoming Nano processor is targeted at the exact same market as the Intel Atom, VIA’s marketing department has put out a short video pitting a Nano chip against an Intel Atom chip. The devices? A protoype PC using VIA’s OpenBook design and the Asus Eee PC 1000H. The challenge? Playing WMV HD video.

The OpenBook comes out way ahead in the video, which is hardly surprising (if you were VIA, would you release this video otherwise?), but the challenge is a bit silly. After all, both of these computers have 1024 x 600 pixel displays. So what exactly is the point of watching 720p or higher resolution videos on them?

Still, it’s nice to see a real world comparison. Last week we saw the first benchmarks comparing the VIA Nano with the Intel Atom. But those benchmarks looked at the versions of each low power chip that are designed for desktops, not laptops. This video gives us a first look at how a 1.3GHz Nano stacks up against a 1.6GHz Intel Atom, at least when it comes to video playback. Considering how poorly the 1.2GHz VIA C7-M CPU in my HP Mini-Note handles standard definition video, it’s nice to see that the next generation VIA chip will do a better job.

Update: As jkkmobile points out, the Asus Eee PC 901 is perfectly capable of playing 1080p video. So maybe VIA is using a faulty Eee PC 1000H, perhaps they underclocked the computer, or maybe’t it’s running unplugged, which I understand would also decrease the clock speed. Anyway, while it’s nice to see that the Nano can play 1080p video, it seems that this video might be a bit disingenous.

Update 2: VIA’s Tim Brown responds that the Eee PC 1000H was running on battery power and that the company wasn’t trying to pull anything, but rather to show how two similar machines handled the same task. Did he really not know that plugging the computer in would yield different performance? Does that matter? Maybe not. But the video probably should have stated the fact that the PCs were running on batteries.



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5 replies on “VIA gets ready to take on the Intel Atom”

  1. What is the point of playing 720p video on a 600p display?

    The sampling rate of the video and compression give the video a far lower resolution than 720p – usually 1/2 to 3/4 of the resolution overall. (Color information is usually stored at 1/4 or 1/2 the resolution, never at full size. The brightness information is always less than full resolution due to the DCT transformation) .

    So you will see a HUGE benefit in playing 720p video on the 600p display of all of these machines. And an even more benefit if these machines were capable of 1080p.

  2. Via has a special chipset that they normally use that provides a huge boost for video decoding. This has been a feature for a while, but drivers were really difficult. I don’t think this necessarily is a great sign, because while it shows that the VIA system can handle it, doesn’t actually show anything about the CPU. Just wiki the CN700 chipset and you’ll see what I mean. I don’t know the exact chipset they are using, but I have no doubts that’s what is allowing this level of video decoding.

  3. one point of playing 720p h264 mkv type video is that it is one of the dominant hd video types you can download from the internet via piratebay type sites and that if you can play it, you won’t have to reencode to format it for your netbook

  4. Is it possible that you include the date information when you post an article? So we know when the story was out when we read it.

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