NEW DELHI, November 12
In America they have coined a new expansion for IT - India-Taiwan. India for the software, and Taiwan for the hardware. So it is no surprise that with major players like Dell, IBM and Intel making a beeline for India, Taiwanese company, VIA Technologies, which makes the Cyrix range, is not far behind. It has launched the VIA Cyrixâ III 533 MHz processor in India recently. The company is banking on its low prices to make a dent in the competitive Indian hardware market, and is hoping to capture at least 30 per cent of the total computer chip market. VIA foresees a shift of the PC from the information technology market to the consumer electronic segment.
VIA is the world's leading supplier of core logic chipsets for both the Intel Pentium® III and AMD Athlon™ processor based PC platforms, and following the purchase in 1999 of the Cyrix® and Centaur design teams from National Semiconductor and IDT respectively, it aims to be the market leader for processors used in sub-$1,000 value PC systems.
With 1999 revenues of $366 million, and 1,200 employees on its payroll, VIA is banking on the change of the computer from a specialised tool to a product of mass consumption, a process that can only accelerate as the Internet grows. It is estimated that Internet usage will double to 210 million users by 2004. And a majority of those hunched in front of the computer terminal would be ordinary folk, for whom the PC will be just a source of information, entertainment, and communication and not a high tech gadget.
This is the core idea around which VIA has crafted its market strategy. Company officials feel that the recent market focus on the high-speed 1GHz processor is misplaced, because for most general Internet, productivity, entertainment and educational applications, lower-cost, lower-speed PCs would work just fine. "The future lies in the expansion of the low-end information PC segment, and our product bridges the gap between the mono-function information appliance and the multi-function mainstream PC," says a company official.
The company is targeting the $199 to $499 segment. The target groups include the budget conscious, first time PC buyers, purchasers of additional PCs for the home, schools, banks, government institutions, and companies who wish to provide free PCs to their employees.
So why is the company still selling itself under the name Cyrix? In 1999, VIA acquired the Cyrix division from National Semiconductor Corp. for a reported $167 million. Simple. The Cyrix brand has much broader name recognition than WinChip.
The major competitor for the VIA Cyrixâ III 533 MHz in this segment is the Intel Celeron 533 MHz. Company officials say that the marketing strategy will be to communicate to the consumer the superior advantages of the Cyrix processor. "In run-time, power consumption, and price, we beat Intel," says a company official who is responsible for the brand's marketing in India.
Available at speeds ranging from 500-600 MHz, the VIA Cyrix® III processor is fully compatible with a complete range of standard Socket 370 motherboards and comes with 128KB Level I cache to boost performance. It also has a very low average power consumption of below 10 watts, making it an ideal solution for fanless PC designs.
The new processor can be used in value PCs, ultra-light notebooks, and innovative Internet Appliances.
Company officials also say that the processor provides the ideal basis for desktop and mobile systems that deliver high-performance business and personal computing, a rich graphical experience, and affordable access to the Internet.
The new version of the VIA Cyrix® III processor running at speeds ranging from 533 MHz to 667 MHz was launched at Computex Taipei 2000. The new chip is nicknamed Samuel, and is different from the Cyrix III that was launched earlier under the name Joshua. Joshua held promise as a low-cost option for the budget PC segment. The launch of the Duron processor by AMD, and the departure of many of the Joshua project team members crippled this project beyond salvation.
So, as more and more Indians surf, VIA is hoping that they will decide to step out of the cyber café and go home, where they can surf on their own PCs. Equipped with a VIA Cyrix III 533 MHz processor.
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