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Via punts QuadCore chip as ARM-Intel gap shrinks

Low-power x86 specialist Via has unveiled its latest creation - a quad-core processor which it hopes will help it squeeze in the ever-decreasing gap between Intel and ARM.

Via has long produced a range of x86 chips that offer significantly reduced power draw when compared to those of rival Intel - but the somewhat lacklustre performance has left the company trailing in third place behind its much larger rival and AMD.

With the designs of British giant ARM starting to make inroads into desktop, laptop, and server markets, Via's scant market share is looking worrying precarious - but the company's latest product should give investors hope for the future.

The Via Nano QuadCore L4700 is designed as a drop-in replacement for the company's existing Nano platforms, and combines two 40nm dual-core 1.2GHz processors in a single package for quad-core computing goodness.

While not as efficient as a true quad-core solution, it does offer Nano users a significant upgrade over the company's dual-core products - and the introduction of Adaptive Overclocking, Via's equivalent to Intel's Turbo Boost technology, means that the clock speed can even push up to 1.46GHz automatically when required.

A surprisingly large 4MB L2 cache is included, support for virtualisation extensions, and Via's PadLock security engine - which offers hardware acceleration of AES encryption - all connected via a 1,333MHz V4 bus.

"As a result of the rapid proliferation of high-definition multimedia content and increasingly demanding multithreaded applications, a four-core processor is the new baseline for today’s mainstream PC user," Via's platform head Epan Wu explained. “The Via QuadCore processor meets that need with the industry’s most power-efficient architecture."

Despite the improved specifications, the thermal design profile of the chip is rated at 27.5W - making it significantly lower power than the nearest equivalent Intel chip.

While mass production isn't due to start until later this year, Via has promised to show us some prototype devices based on the new chip at Computex early next month.