VIA Technologies has unveiled its new VIA C7 processor family. Based on the 'Esther' core, the C7 promises to be the world's smallest x86 processor, and also being the one using the least power. Utilising a tiny die size of a mere 30mm2, the C7 "processor idle power is as low as 100mW (0.1W), while 2.0GHz will run at about 20 watts peak power, an average of 40% cooler than competitor solutions." Initially, speeds will be at 2.0GHz, with bus interface speeds of up to 800MHz. But security is also at the heart of this new processor. The VIA C7 processor should enter into mass production at the end of the second quarter of this year.

The VIA C7 processor also signals an era of practical pervasive security due to the industry-leading security features of the VIA PadLock Hardware Security Suite, a family of advanced security technologies providing on-die hardware acceleration for key cryptographic operations. In addition to the world's best random number generator (RNG) and AES Encryption Engine in the previous processor generation, the VIA C7 processor adds SHA-1 and SHA-256 hashing for secure message digests, and a hardware based Montgomery Multiplier supporting key sizes up to 32K in length to accelerate public key cryptography, such as RSA(TM). The VIA C7 also provides execute protection (NX), providing protection from malicious software such as worms and viruses, and is used in Microsoft® Windows® XP with SP2. Integrating security directly onto the processor die ensures speeds and efficiency many times that available in software, yet with negligible impact on processor performance.

"With the rest of the market moving towards low power, heat efficient processor design and distributed platforms, the industry is clearly starting to follow the direction we have been championing for many years," said Wenchi Chen, president and CEO, VIA Technologies. "The VIA C7 processor will underpin our next generation platforms and enable us to maintain our leadership in driving the next wave of platform innovation."

"For me, the 'Esther' core is the embodiment of my vision for a cool, secure and versatile processor that will take the x86 platform to the next level," said Glenn Henry, president of Centaur Technologies and chief architect of the chip, in a statement. "It is the culmination of many years of designing for the optimal balance of mobility, performance, and security."