Via propels fanless chips to 1GHz

Via hopes to carve out a niche in appliances and embedded devices with its latest Eden chips, which don't require a sophisticated cooling system

Via Technologies has increased the speed of its Eden ESP processor to 1GHz, promising that the chip still generates so little heat that it does not require a cooling fan.

The company is pitching its processor, based on the Nehemiah core, for devices where low power consumption and quiet operation are desirable, such as thin clients, consumer electronics and communications appliances. Like fellow chipmakers AMD and Transmeta, Via hopes to take advantage of the fact that Intel's flagship Pentium chips are increasingly power-hungry, according to analysts, requiring sophisticated and often noisy cooling systems.

The Eden ESP10000 and ESP8000 chips, announced on Tuesday, use a maximum of seven watts of power and include hardware-based encryption and two random number generators for extra security, Via said. The chips are aimed at thin clients, personal servers and industrial PC platforms, and can also be used in consumer electronics-type devices that need PC compatibility.

Several thin-client manufacturers, including C.P. Technology, BCom Electronics and Termtek Computer, are using the new chips in their products, while a company called Nimble Microsystems is using the ESP8000 in a videoconferencing device, according to Via.

"The VIA Eden ESP10000 and ESP8000 processors have raised the bar for performance and innovation for an almost unlimited variety of fanless smart connected devices," said Steven Lee, head of Via's embedded platform division, in a statement.

The chips are shipping in volume now, at $85 (£43) for the ESP8000 and $100 for the ESP10000 in OEM quantities.