than what we expected, VIA has finally launched a new chipset which goes under the name of VX855, although the interesting part here is that VIA calls it a "Media System Processor" which makes it sound like something more than just a chipset.
The VX855 still needs a VIA processor to work, so calling it a processor might be a truth with a modification. It works with VIA's Nano and C7 processors and the VX855 has been specifically designed for what VIA calls "the mini-notebook PC segment". The chipset offers a new Chrome9 HCM graphics engine, although it's still not using the latest technology from S3, as it's still a DirectX 9 part. However, the VX855 has a hardware decoder for playing back 1080p video in MPEG-2 and H.264 and it also offers software decoding acceleration for MPEG-4, DivX and VC-1 video.
The VX855 supports up to 4GB of memory, twice that of Intel's netbook chipsets. Other features include six USB 2.0 ports, one IDE interface which can be used for SATA drives with the inclusion of an IDE to SATA bridge (an unusual implementation), NAND flash memory (SSD), HD audio, Bluetooth and rather unusually for a PC chipset, WiFi over SDIO. One concern we're having though is the fact that there only seems to be support for single channel LVDS, which means that the chipset is fine for displays up to 1,280x1,024 (or 1,440x900), but this doesn't allow for full screen 1080p video playback. There might be more to this and we'll try to find out what's going on here.
With a TDP of 2.3W this is a very cool running chipset which should reduce the need for complex cooling which will allow for an overall cheaper netbook/notebook and it's also suggesting that this is a very low power chipset which should hopefully result in improved battery life. The VX855 is a single chip chipset and at 27x27mm it's also quite small which could potentially allow for smaller PCBs in intended devices which again would result in cost savings.
So far there's no word on any hardware based on the VX855, but hopefully this new chipset will lead to better support for the VIA Nano processor in the netbook market. For now, we'll just have to sit back and wait for further announcements from VIA.
You can find the product page here