HP selects processor from Via for China PC

Energy-efficient processor made by Taiwan company is at the heart of a desktop designed for commercial consumers in China.

Hewlett-Packard has launched an energy-efficient PC in China, but there's a surprise in the processor that runs it.

The HP Compaq dx2020 desktop will use the C7-D processor from Via Technologies, a Taiwanese company known mostly for chipsets. Via has a fairly marginal market share in processors and typically sells chips to small manufacturers in emerging markets. The PC released by HP will be targeted at commercial customers in China.

Via brings some novel characteristics to HP. The processor consumes only 20 watts of power, relatively low for a desktop chip. IT managers around the world are trying to curb power consumption by buying more energy-efficient servers and desktops. Reducing energy consumption has been a particularly acute issue in China, where much of the electricity is produced through coal-burning power plants, a major source of pollution in the country.

The company also can tout Chinese credentials. Although based in Taiwan, Via has been working with PC makers in mainland China, and PCs that contain its chips are sold as having a "Chinese heart."

Chips from Via also typically sell for far less than processors from competitors Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. HP was also one of the first brand name multinationals to adopt chips from AMD in a commercial desktop.

The deal is not Via's first with a brand name computer manufacturer. It has landed chips inside a handheld portable computer from .

The HP computer comes with a 1.5GHz Via processor and up to 1GB of memory.

Indirectly, the deal can also be considered Via's second with HP. Back in 1997, Compaq released the first sub-$1,000 computer with a chip from Cyrix. The PC set off a trend among major computer makers to release cheap PCs.

National Semiconductor bought Cyrix in an ultimately foiled attempt to take on Intel. Via later acquired some of the Cyrix assets. AMD bought other parts of Cyrix.

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