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Via to build its own motherboards

The company is hoping to exploit the vast market for embedded devices such as digital video recorders and set-top boxes with its new motherboard division.

By Matthew Broersma

Via Technologies is hoping to exploit the vast market for embedded devices such as digital video recorders and set-top boxes with its new motherboard division.

The division will also make higher-end boards that will couple with Via's chipsets for Intel's Pentium 4 chips. Analysts say the chipsets have been shunned by many board makers because of Via's legal problems with Intel.

The company said it is being careful not to compete with manufacturers making motherboards based on Via's core logic. "We are very much focused on products that our motherboard customers are not doing," said Richard Brown, Via's director of international marketing.

Taiwan-based Via is the largest chipset maker after Intel but has been involved in ongoing legal battles with its rival over intellectual property rights.

The decision to sell its own brand of motherboards may be a way to increase demand for its P4X266 Pentium 4 chipset, which is at the heart of Via's legal struggles with Intel.

Intel claims that Via's chipset violates its patents. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based giant has indicated that it will selectively take legal action against motherboard makers and others that incorporate Via's chipset into their products. By making its own motherboards, Via can ensure itself of at least one customer: itself. PC makers that incorporate Via's chipsets and motherboards, however, still run the risk of incurring Intel's legal wrath.

Via has traditionally focused on low-cost computers but is now looking to put more energy into embedded devices, which include everything from supermarket checkout terminals to set-top boxes.

Staff writer Matthew Broersma reported from London, and News.com's Michael Kanellos contributed to this report.