Not everyone wants or needs a hot box. Hot boxes tend to be, well, hot, and hot usually means noise, and hot usually means bigger so the noise has a good chance to get rid of the hot.
Currently, those who prefer little, cool and/or quiet have not had optimal choices. The Via Epia choices have been LCQ, but a bit too underpowered for most people’s liking. The Pentium M is much better powered, but desktop options have been more than a bit too overpriced.
Via will be shortly offering a new option. They will have a new line of processors called the C7-M series, plus mobo chipsets (the VN800 series), which will also support Pentium Ms. The chipset supports both DDR/DDR2, can have an AGP slot, and can run up to an 800MHz bus.
It remains to be seen how well Via’s CPU holds up against Intel’s “M” chips; Via seems to think their new chip ought to be competitive with the Celeron M. It may, it may not, but it will be cheap, it ought to fit more computing needs than the current C3 chips, and if it doesn’t, one can always get a Celeron/Pentium M.
For those who prefer quiet to power, the C7-M is made using SOI, and if you underclock and not do anything too demanding, you may be able to get away with passive cooling of the CPU.
For those who prefer power to quiet, while this doesn’t make a Pentium M any cheaper, any desktop mobos based on this chipset ought to cost much less than the current socket 479 mobos floating around.
90nm lower-end Celeron Ms cost less than $100 today. A few months from now, you might be able to take a 1.3 Cel-M, and crank it up, well maybe not double the speed, but not too far away from it.
No matter whether you like power or quiet better, mobos based on the VN600 ought to be appealing to those who like good computing in small, cheap packages. If you don’t want to wait (and pay) for MiniMac, Intel-style, or Minintel, Apple style, this could be for you later this year.
Not for everyone, but for some, definitely something to keep an eye on.