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Intel’s Upcoming Rival—VIA Technologies

Monday, December 17, 2001 In order for Intel to sell its microprocessors, it had to invent the PC architecture and produce the peripheral circuits to go with it. When AMD invented its own 200MHz FSB Athlon, it had to design its own chipset and motherboard to prove it. When VIA Technologies wants to be a rival to the two CPU companies, it first built its foundation on chipsets. It then acquired Cyrix and the CPU division of IDT. To prove its courage, it also adopted DDR while Intel was insisting on Rambus memory.

Can VIA Technologies pull it off? Can VIA craft out its own market in China and the Far East? Would VIA become the Asia Intel?

Our Taiwan Correspondent, Johnson Wang, did a thorough study of VIA Technologies and files this multi-part report.

Who is VIA Technologies, Anyway?

Brief Description of VIA Technologies

Very Innovative Architecture, commonly known as VIA Technologies was Incorporated and formed on September of 1992. Initial formation capital was $NT 5 Million (U$156,000). Present asset is recorded as $NT 5.768 Billion (U$180.25 Million). Its core business is PC peripheral Integrated Circuits, generally known as “chipsets”. It researches, design, and develop but manufacture through contract foundries. It then markets globally under its own brand name. It is positioned as a designer of specialty semiconductor circuits. Technical talent and experience are, therefore, their most valuable asset.

Referring to the founding of VIA Technologies, we can see the distinct advantages from its R&D lineup and also from the nature of its large investors. The founding body obtained its R&D talent from a US company named VIA Chip Technologies, Inc. This group of home returning (from US to Taiwan) technologist combined with initial capital from Taiwan Plastic and Chemical Group established their home office at an industrial park around Chung-Cheng Road in the City of Hsin Tien. The company grew very rapidly. Number of employees has grown from a few tens to the now over 1000 employees. By the end of this year, the company would have expanded into eight office locations.

In order to increase its competitiveness and to reduce the time to market, it has established branch office at the value added export zone at Kao Hsiung The building extends to 300 Squares. Offices were also established in Hong Kong and Main Land China. In order to achieve its goal of being the number one IC-designer in the world, it has been aggressively expanding in human resources. It had planned to increase to 1,500 employees in the new millenium. It welcomes young people with the common vision to join into the lineup.

During the recent years, different functional IC’s are being integrated into one bigger IC. VIA saw that further integration with CPU would be unavoidable. It had, therefore, acquired CYRIX and also merged with and the CPU division of IDT in the year of 1999. Later, it also formed joint venture with S3 to develop a graphics integrated chipset. VIA has been preparing for the technology future in low cost PC related Integrated Circuits. Sales projection for 2003 is at 1 Billion US Dollars. Market occupation is projected to be 50%.

Company Vision

Besides having a world class advanced IC design team as its backbone, VIA Technologies also wants to assemble professionals from every aspect. That helps the company to form a management model in world class fabless IC business. The goal is to develop complete solutions and highly functional products in core logic, CPU and communications. Moreover, to union with strategic partners and to have close working relationship with them. This will enhance their technical competence and total after service to the market consumers.

In the future, VIA will rely on integration of leading software core and the building of outstanding computer platform to fulfill its dream of being the “King of the Low Cost Computer”.

Company Culture

“VIA, We Connect” is VIA’s slogan. It represents the spirit of VIA and has multiple meanings. For example: VIA produces core logic chipsets. VIA chipset is the central structure of the computer. It is used to “connect” between the CPU and its peripherals. In summary, the function of VIA product is “VIA (via) Connections”. Through that connection, VIA can be with the entire world.

The company’s direction is “VIA Connects with PC”. Regardless of either they are Microsoft, Compaq, CPU manufacturer, VGA manufacturers, or Semiconductor manufacturer, VIA wants to maintain a good alliance and a good relationship. VIA wants to work together to develop and to deliver the future PC Platforms.

In the area of CPU support, VIA continues to push its “VIA Connect with CPU” thrust. Whether it is Intel Slot-1, AMD, Cyrix Socket 7, it gives full support. VIA will put on the best functional specifications and the best product to advance the PC manufacturing industry.

As its responsibility to the society, VIA also “Connects” under the philosophy of “industry pays back to the society” During the last three years VIA continued to setup scholarship funds in colleges within Taiwan. They also supported community organizations as well as religious co-operations. In 1998, VIA allocated $NT50 Million and applied for the setup of the Alliance Charity Foundation to help solve problems in poverty.

On campus, VIA hopes to use grants to elevate high tech research standards. It also wants to promote environmental protection through co-operations with social groups. On one hand, it fulfills its responsibility to the Taiwan IC industry. On the other hand, it also fulfills the goal to train more people. It is a plan of mutually benefit to both the company and to the industry.

Click Here for Part-2

By: Johnson Wang
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