VIA Launches Its Latest Low-Energy Chip

The niche player provided the power-efficient guts of "toaster" PCs long before it was chic.

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Maybe VIA Technologies will get some respect, now that the computing world is going green. The chipmaker has mostly been a niche player with its low-power microprocessors, which are the central brains in personal computers. Its chips don't try to compete with the bruisers from Intel and AMD.

VIA's chips instead emphasize low energy and low heat. They've been featured in tiny PCs that look like toasters and model cars—the work of hobbyists with too much time on their hands.

The company's chips turn out surprising oomph for their miserly demands. But they haven't packed enough power for most consumers, or at least for PC makers. So VIA is staking its claim on a new generation announced today that it says will outperform upcoming chips from Intel, which is targeting mobile computing.

Only time and testing will tell. But give VIA credit for understanding low power before the big boys did.