Via develops namecard-sized PC board

New motherboard design will make possible a range of small, powerful computers such as 'super smartphones'

Taiwan's Via Technologies has a knack for making motherboards smaller, and its latest design pushes the boundary of what's possible further than ever before.

Called Mobile ITX, the new motherboard measures 7.5 centimeters by 4.5 cm -- roughly the same size as a namecard -- and includes all of the components required by a computer, including a Via C7 processor, a chip set with integrated graphics and video capabilities, and memory.

The new motherboard design, which should hit markets next year, will make possible a range of small, powerful computers, such as "super smartphones," said Richard Brown, Via's president of corporate marketing, in an interview.

Key to the motherboard's success is the C7 processor. Brown didn't specify which version the board will use, but said the chip consumes 0.25 watts of power or less when running. "And that's not when the system is idling," he said.

Via CEO Wenchi Chen plans to announce the new motherboard design on Wednesday at the Computex exhibition in Taipei.

While Via is much smaller than Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, the company has a proven ability to spot where industry trends are headed before larger companies catch on. For example, Via was pushing the idea of low-power computing, and performance per watt as an important measure, at a time when Intel and AMD were still focused on clock speeds.

In the motherboard space, Via was the developer of Mini-ITX, a small form factor that measures 17 cm by 17 cm. In recent years, Mini-ITX has become an informal standard. Boards based on the same dimensions are now used with chips from AMD and Intel.

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