Is anyone else wondering how VIA became a heavy hitter all of the sudden? Just a year ago, we could have lumped VIA, SiS, and ALi into the same group. They were all third party chipset manufacturers in an Intel industry dominated. It's amazing how far VIA has pulled away from the pack in just a year.
Through its recent acquisitions of Cyrix and Centaur, VIA has let it be known that it wants to be much more than a chipset company. It hasn't been easy for VIA, especially when you have Intel trying to hold you down. Let's take a quick look at VIA's past two years.
VIA Time line
Releases the MVP3 Socket-7 chipset - Feb. 1998
Releases the Apollo Pro Slot-1 chipset - May. 1998
Releases the MVP4 Socket-7 chipset - Aug. 1998
Licenses P6 bus from Intel - Nov. 1998
Releases Apollo Pro Plus Slot-1 chipset - Dec. 1998
Forms PC133 Group - Feb. 1999
Taiwan Stock Exchange IPO - Mar. 1999
Enters into agreement with S3 - Apr. 1999
Intel sues VIA - Jun. 1999
Acquires Cyrix from National Semiconductor - Jun. 1999
Releases Apollo Pro133 - Jul. 1999
Enters Network Switch Controller Market - Jul. 1999
Acquires Centaur from IDT - Aug. 1999
Releases Apollo Pro133A chipset - Oct. 1999
Intel sues VIA customers: FIC and Everex - Nov. 1999
Takes 14.9% equity stake in S3 - Dec. 1999
Releases KX133 chipset - Jan. 2000
Intel asks US to ban VIA chipset imports - Jan. 2000
Refutes Intel's patent infringement claims - Feb. 2000
Launches Cyrix III processor - Feb. 2000
VIA on the Attack
We've heard bits and pieces about VIA's new Joshua processor over the past couple months, and we knew what to expect when we attended VIA's official Joshua launch. VIA had divulged earlier that the Joshua was a Celeron compatible Socket 370 processor with an integrated 64KB L1 cache, an integrated 256KB L2 cache, 3DNow! support, 133MHz FSB support, and a 0.18 micron manufacturing process. In addition, VIA had also revealed that the chip would have speeds in the 433 to 500+ range.
We learned a little more about the Joshua at the official launch. VIA is marketing the processor as the Cyrix III. VIA felt that the Cyrix brand was still valuable enough to assign to its new processor, and I think we all can guess why there's a "III" attached to the end. VIA President & CEO Wen Chi Chen also gave an informative overview of VIA and Steve McMahan, Director of Engineering, presented the Cyrix III technical details. After the presentations and the Q&A session, were able to test out a couple machines running on beta silicon.