Via unfurls computer designs for developing world

Taiwan's Via Technologies has opened a design center in Mumbai, India that will try to popularize the company's PHD computing appliances, which are inexpensive, energy-efficient computers for the developing world.

PHD stands for power heat and dust, three of the big problems when it comes to running computers in rural villages in emerging markets. Some of these devices will run on car batteries.

Some PHD systems will be full-fledged computers selling for under $300 with monitor while others will be more like thin clients attached to server appliances. These devices will be made by PC makers but run on Via silicon.

Besides the environmental issues like heat and dust, finding the right design formula for emerging markets has proved difficult. The cheapest computing devices, such as India's Simputer and others that sell for around $100 dollars, have found few buyers. On the other hand, selling full-fledged computers outside the big cities has been tough because of the price.

Although it only has a sliver of the market for processors, Via is trying to expand its market by concentrating on emerging markets like India. It has helped fund computers labs at the Indian Institute of Technology among other efforts to establish a greater presence.