It is really no secret that VIA has been in quite a bit of hot water but not always in a bad way either. At the beginning of the Coppermine CPU craze, VIA can be thanked for keeping us from having to use that dreaded memory that starts with "R", RAMBUS. If VIA had not pushed SDRAM to 133MHz with support on its Apollo 133 and 133A chipsets, who knows where memory technology would be today, possibly well in the hands of the RAMBUS company.
Not only this, but VIA also helped see the downfall of the Intel empire when the Athlon first emerged. When the i820 chipset was exposed for what it was (a complete disaster) and AMD had free reign to start selling its CPU, as Intel's big threats of pushing up the price of i820 to companies who supported the AMD CPU fell to the ground with a giant thud. VIA's KX133 chipset, the only one apart from AMD's own buggy Irongate 750 to support the Slot A Athlon CPU, VIA was reeling in the profits for these sales, and with a solid back bone, KT133, the Socket A version managed to come to the market with a bang.
DDR made its way into the Athlon realm and VIA was the first to market with its KT266 chipset to support DDR on the Athlon platform. KT266A come out to fix a few bugs as well as support the higher FSB that AMD had moved to but this is where things got sourer for VIA. Chipsets came out left and right, KT333, KT333A, KT400, KT400A all came out within the space of two years - all were very buggy and had little to gain over each other, that and the fact that nVidia has its nForce 2 out saw VIA fall quite far in the chipset market.
While this might have caused quite a bit of concern, VIA was already pushing into other areas. They had purchased the S3 graphics company to produce their IGP based chipsets as well as buying out the Cyrix company, who produced some of the budget Socket 7 processors when Pentium MMX was in its day.
About when AMD moved it its K8 series, VIA stopped looking to become the leader in chipset technology and focused on internal products such as its processor line, which started with the C3 and quite popular as the ultimate budget setup. Requiring very little power, the C3 saw its way into VIA's own mini-ITX setups - a 17x17cm motherboard, with everything you could want onboard. This started the portable media PC craze that spawned a huge amount of computers installed into cars across the globe.
The EPIA branded motherboard has been selling like hotcakes and now we are moving into the next generation of motherboards from VIA with new chipsets and a brand new CPU designed by VIA's division at Centaur in Austin, Texas.
Today we are looking at the EPIA-EX motherboard based around the CX700M2 chipset and VIA's new C7 processor.
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