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Via design targets first-time Netbook makers

The reference design for the Surfboard C855 provides a leg up for notebook makers, the company says. Too bad it doesn't include Via's latest processors.

Via Technologies has released a new Netbook reference design aimed at PC manufacturers that want to start selling Netbooks for the first time.

The reference design for the Via Surfboard C855 mainboard, unveiled Tuesday, includes the Taiwanese chip company's new VX855 media system processor alongside a C7-M processor. The mainboard will provide "smooth playback" of high-bit-rate 1080p high-definition video, as well as eight-channel HD audio, according to Via.

Via's Surfboard C855 reference design
Via's Surfboard C855 reference design. ZDNet UK

According to Richard Brown, Via's vice president of marketing, one advantage of the Surfboard C855 design is "the head start it affords mini-notebook system developers or those seeking to enter the market."

Via's 1.6GHz C7-M is a relatively old processor, as it first appeared in 2005. It has gone back to this chip for the new reference design despite having a more recent range of processors--the Nano range--that is already used in new Netbooks, such as Samsung's NC20. The Nano range offers better performance than both the C7-M and, according to ZDNet UK reviews, Intel's ubiquitous Atom processor.

Despite being based on an older chip, the new reference design is being pitched by Via as sufficiently capable of HD video playback. Reference designs for other new lower-range Netbooks, such as those based on ARM architecture, also include this feature.

The C855 board supports an 800MHz front-side bus, and connectivity options on the board include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and 3G. Internal display resolutions of up to 1,366x768 pixels are supported, as are external display resolutions of up to 1,920x1,440 pixels.

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.