We asked people what they thought of Via, and they answered, “Not much.” – Ed
There are some unhappy campers out there.
While I wouldn’t call the anti-Via response overwhelming, and there are some who will defend them, it’s pretty safe to say that there is a significant level of dissatisfaction with Via’s products.
Enough to hurt AMD? I would say at least a bit. It was interesting that the most frequently voiced complaint about AMD was that they didn’t make chipsets for their processors all the time, and instead left it to these characters.
A fairly significant number have gone to the SiS 735, and while a few also cursed it out, most were pretty happy with the experience.
Even those who defended Via seemed to be more apologetic than anything else. There were no “Via, right or wrong” fanatics out there. There were a few who pointed out, quite rightly, that a considerable percent of Via’s “problems” were in fact user problems.
This is an area where perception is more important than reality, and there has been plenty of real problems over the course of time.
The overwhelming impression I got from the responses was “these people can be taken.” “Loyalty” to Via appears to be a mile wide and an inch deep.
The people in contention to rip away Via’s marketshare are, respectively, Intel, SiS, and trailing the pack nVidia (ALi doesn’t seem to be a factor).
On the Intel PIV side, Via is rather uncomfortably sandwiched between SiS 645 performance and price and Intel stability. There’s a real possibility Intel will grab the lion’s share of even the performance market, with SiS being the non-Intel performance option. Via’s answer appears to be the P4X600, with expected dual-channel DDR, but that won’t be until sometime in Q2, and it’s anybody’s guess how much of an improvement that will be (though Intel will also head down that path eventually).
On the Athlon side, matters are a bit more comfortable at the moment with the KT266A, but again, we have a potential sandwich, with SiS attacking from the low-end, and nVidia from the high-end. If nVidia becomes a bit more responsive to the market, they could have a real contender with their next generation nForce.
This doesn’t mean Via is doomed. SiS has to convince people they make a quality product. nVidia is still a new kid on this block.
One person suggested that Via’s problems probably stemmed from growing up overnight, and I think there’s much to be said for that. It’s a problem SiS in particular will have to come to terms with if they do end up with a big winner.
We should remember that Via got to where it is mostly by default, by being at the right place at the right time, not with the best product. They’re going to have real competition now, and they can certainly lose their market as easily as they gained it.