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Intel’s Upcoming Rival—VIA Technologies Part 7

Tuesday, December 18, 2001 Seriously going after Intel''s market. Concentrating on China market, and Value Internet Architecture.

What is VIA’s position in the computer industry?

Mr. Wen Chi Chen answered: VIA’s involvement in IC design is a lead into the core technology. This includes the chipset, CPU and the graphic chips that we currently have. Together with related software design to complete the lineup. All these form a technological core.

Position that VIA wants to be is basically in two directions. One is to involve with upstream foundry services, packaging and supporting software. In these areas, VIA should provide the technology and development directions. Besides supplying their ideas to the upstream, they would also be the primary drivers of technology. That means VIA will set new technology standards.

To the downstream, including VIA’s competitors, VIA wishes everyone to co-operate in developing the best future technology. Everybody would contribute and push unified technology standards. Past success example was PC133 and the DDR that had unified all major memory manufacturers.

On another hand, the ‘C’ in ‘PC’ should no longer be “Computing”. Instead, it should be “Connecting”. In the development of connectivity, VIA have done some preparations. VIA see that many manufacturers already have pieces of the technology. That is why VIA is presently working with 3Com. In the future, VIA wishes to have more partnership in various forms of co-operations.

What is the future DDR chipset development?

Mr. Chen answered: Basically, DDR’s success is almost certain. Industry co-operation is going well. This will be beneficial. Presently product flow is significant. On competitions, Intel and VIA are still the major players with Intel being 6 months behind in the market. It tells that Taiwanese has advantages on DDR related products. That should also be an advantage to the downstream motherboard manufacturers.

Many downstream manufacturers feel that VIA will run into more vigorous competition in the DDR market than in the PC133 market.

Mr. Chen replied: Intel’s past success in the microprocessor market was based on “superior quality”. VIA’s past success on PC133 was not based on how it gambled on the right target nor was it without competitions. Frankly, it was also its quality. In today’s DDR market, VIA’s leadership in technology is reflected onto its products. Or may I say “quality”. That is why VIA is optimistic in the future market.

How does VIA plan to retain its share on the DDR market?

Mr. Chen answered: Simply speaking, a company operation is based on “service”, “technology”, “branding”, and “cost”. VIA has managed these things in the past and is managing them now. We will continue to seek improvement to do these things better. These are the reasons that VIA will continue to maintain its lead. On the other hand, when VIA decided to do something, it will do its best. In business administrations, VIA treasures its team members. VIA will continue to do so consciously. Considering how VIA sets it target, VIA will “march with the trend” and to do “what is right”. The PC133 is a very good example that VIA will always listen and consider their customer’s opinion.

From Taiwan to America, VIA has been investing in IC companies for the last two years. It invested in international companies likeEnsemble, Marvell, GCT, Nextcomm, Wonder that have different specialties. It has also sequentially invested in wireless communications and IA related companies. VIA’s ambition is rather obvious.

The Connected World

“The future is not in computing but in connecting the world.” This is Mr. Wen Chi Chen’s interpretation of this PC generation. He explained that the rises of IA products are based on people’s needs to be connected.

VIA chipset’s main task is to connect together all different internal components of the computer. It also maintains the flow on data transmissions. VIA has in depth understanding in the area of “connecting”, Besides, VIA is also getting familiar with the IA industry. It all comes down to what products needed to be connected?

Although VIA does not do production, it did exhibited many IA application products at the Cebit Show. Examples are the Windows Webpad, and the set-top box. It is now preparing reference designs to attract the attention of the downstream manufacturers. It transformed IA products from concept to production ready stage. Only when these products are being produced in quantity would VIA fulfill its potential.

In this new battle, every IC design company wants to make the system smaller and lighter. Just like Intel had talked about System-on-a-Chip. Gradually, all functions would be integrated onto one IC. This new structure will reduce the size of the system and is the direction that the industry is moving towards.

VIA is preparing to announce a new chip code name Matthew by middle of the year. This chip includes the CPU, Northbridge, and graphic functions. It is targeted for the new consumer appliance market. At the same time, VIA has not forgotten the connecting software. It not only had setup software centers, but also developed the ET-Browser. This will allow customers to have more convenience and higher speed on the Internet.

Seeking Outside Resources

From the practical point of view, VIA’s trump card is not as heavy as the world class players. When VIA wants to get into wireless communication and IA, it has to build good relationship with all the large communication manufacturers. It is also seriously looking for partners. It will use acquisition or alliance to reach additional resources that will strengthen the company.

VIA is strong in IC design but not as familiar with networking. Last year, it has signed a co-operative agreement with 3Com to develop the networking portion of its chipset. This co-operation elevated the technology level on both companies.

VIA not only invested in other companies, it also welcomed others to invest in the company. Qualcom, the king of CDMA, had obtained 5% of VIA stock. With it, VIA is one step closer to networking.

While it is recruiting partners, VIA also spent much effort on recruiting employees. Contrary to Intel’s layoff action, VIA has been anxiously expanding. It is especially active in China where it will be an incubator.

Seriously setting up in China

Asian marketing director Mr. Chang said “ When talk about the development of wireless communications, we can say that China has a lot more human resources than Taiwan”. In VIA’s arrangement, wireless product developments in China is a natural choice. VIA sets up programs at university points like Tsing Hua University. They build a good co-operative relationship, provides intern opportunities and special curriculums. Its goal is to train the future generation in communications and IC design.

VIA’s Value Internet Architecture

VIA would not pass up the opportunity to set new product trends. At the same time, its opponents, Intel and National Semiconductors are seriously setting up to meet the Century of IA. Intel setup an independent network and communications department to develop new technology products. National Semiconductors, on the other hand, has introduced its Blue Tooth IC and Consumer Processor solutions. The competition is getting fierce.

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By: Johnson Wang
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