VIA Technologies Inc. (Chinese: ?; pinyin: ), is a Taiwanese manufacturer of integrated circuits, mainly motherboard chipsets, CPUs, and memory. It is the world's largest independent manufacturer of motherboard chipsets. As a fabless semiconductor company, VIA conducts research and development of its chipsets in-house, then subcontracts the actual (silicon) manufacturing to third-party merchant foundries, such as TSMC.
Fremont, California, United States
|Products||Chipsets, motherboards, CPUs|
The company was founded in 1987, in Fremont, California, USA by Cher Wang. In 1992, it was decided to move the headquarters to Taipei, Taiwan in order to establish closer partnerships with the substantial and growing IT manufacturing base in Taiwan and neighbouring China.
In 1999, VIA acquired most of Cyrix, then a division of National Semiconductor. That same year, VIA acquired Centaur Technology from Integrated Device Technology, marking its entry into the x86 microprocessor market. VIA is the maker of the VIA C3, VIA C7 & VIA Nano processors, and the EPIA platform. The Cyrix MediaGX platform remained with National Semiconductor.
In 2001, VIA established the S3 Graphics joint venture.
In January 2005, VIA began the VIA pc-1 Initiative, to develop information and communication technology systems to benefit those with no access to computers or Internet. In February 2005, VIA celebrated production of the 100 millionth VIA AMD chipset.
On 29 August 2008, VIA announced that they would release official 2D accelerated Linux drivers for their chipsets, and would also release 3D accelerated drivers.
In 2013, VIA entered into an agreement with the Shanghai Municipal Government to create a fabless semiconductor company called Zhaoxin. The joint venture is producing x86 compatible CPUs for the Chinese market.
VIA's business focuses on integrated chipsets for the PC market. Among PC users, VIA is best known for its motherboard (core-logic) chipsets. However, VIA's products include audio controllers, network/connectivity controllers, low-power CPUs, and even CD/DVD-writer chipsets. PC and peripheral vendors such as ASUS then buy the chipsets for inclusion into their own product brands.
In the late 1990s, VIA began diversifying its core-logic business, and the company has since made business acquisitions to form a CPU division, graphics division, and a sound division. As advances in silicon manufacturing continue to increase the level of integration and functionality in chipsets, VIA will need these divisions to remain competitive in the core-logic market.
VIA has produced multiple x86 compatible CPUs, through its acquisitions of Cyrix and Centaur Technology. VIA still produces CPUs through the Zhaoxin joint venture. Some of the VIA x86 processors also contain an undocumented Alternate Instruction Set.
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VIA established itself as an 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 RDRAM memory would be supported going forward. Since RDRAM 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.
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[buzzword], its low manufacturing cost made it an ideal integrated solution[buzzword], 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, AMD, 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 × 11 mm footprint VM-enabled x86-64 processor, which debuted in May 2008, for ultra-mobile PCs.
On the basis of the IDT Centaur acquisition, VIA appears to have come into possession of at least three patents, which cover key aspects of processor technology used by Intel. On the basis of the negotiating leverage these patents offered, in 2003, VIA arrived at an agreement with Intel that allowed for a ten-year patent cross license, enabling VIA to continue to design and manufacture x86 compatible CPUs. VIA was also granted a three-year grace period in which it could continue to use Intel socket infrastructure.