And then there were three . . .
After months of rumors, Taiwan-based Via Technologies has confirmed that it will stop producing chipsets for PCs that use Intel and AMD processors. A company spokesperson told the hardware site Custom PC that the third-party chipset business was on its way out, and said Via would instead focus on developing entire PC platforms.
Via is best-known for producing the chipsets and low-power processors found in small-form factor desktops. More recently, it has received a lot of press for its work on netbooks. HP uses Via's C-7 chip in its Mini-Note 2133, and at the Computex tradeshow in June, Via announced a new chip, the Nano, which competes head-to-head with Intel's Atom.
With chipsets, however, the writing was on the wall. In the second quarter, Via and its S3 Graphics joint venture combined shipped 1.1 million GPUs, or 1% of the total market; in the same quarter last year it shipped 6.26 million, representing nearly 8% of the market, according to Jon Peddie Research. Meanwhile Intel has grown its share to more than 47% of the total GPU market, followed by Nvidia and AMD.
The introduction of new graphics technology, such as SLI/CrossFire and hybrid graphics, as well as the new memory interface in Intel's upcoming Core i7, have made it more challenging for third parties to license the necessary technology and develop chipsets.
Via said it will continue to develop chipsets for its own Nano chip, following the trend set by Intel, and more recently AMD, of selling entire platforms, rather than individual PC components, which are becoming increasingly commoditized. Earlier this month the newswire DigiTimes reported that Nvidia had told motherboard makers it was preparing to exit the chipset business as well, but the company quickly denied it.