HP ships ultraportable laptop with Via inside, not Intel

HP unveiled its Compaq 2133 ultraportable laptop, which packs a 9-inch screen and a Via processor instead of one from Intel.

Hewlett-Packard unveiled its Compaq 2133 ultraportable laptop, which uses a C7-M microprocessor from Taiwan's Via Technologies instead of a chip from Intel.

The sleek device represents a significant design win for Via, which has struggled to win business from top-tier PC makers in the face of stiff competition from Intel. The win is even more remarkable because Intel just released its Centrino Atom package for handheld computers and will start shipping a line of low-cost Atom chips designed for laptops like the 2133 during the third quarter.

HP chose the C7-M because it met the thermal requirements needed for the 2133, according to Philip Devlin, a product marketing manager at HP Asia-Pacific, adding that Via has long provided microprocessors for HP's line of thin clients.

Another important consideration was timing. The C7-M was ready when HP wanted to make the 2133 available, Devlin said.

The 1.19-kilogram 2133 has an aluminum-alloy case and is priced from US$499 to $899, depending on the configuration. The laptop comes with a C7-M processor running at 1GHz, 1.2GHz or 1.6GHz, and runs Windows Vista or SuSE Linux Desktop 10. Standard features include an 8.9-inch screen with a resolution of 1,280 pixels by 768 pixels, a nearly full-size keyboard, a Secure Digital (SD) memory card slot, and an ExpressCard slot. It also has wireless interfaces for Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi.

When it comes to storage, users have the choice of a 120G-byte hard disk or a 160G-byte disk. A 4G-byte solid-state drive is available for Linux, and HP expects to offer an 80G-byte SSD as an option for both operating systems during the third quarter.

The 2133 gets around two hours of battery life with the standard 3-cell battery and four hours with a 6-cell battery, Devlin said. An Australian HP spokesperson confirmed the unit will be sold through HP's existing channels for consumer and business notebooks.

Devlin declined to comment on whether HP plans to use Via's upcoming Isaiah processor with the 2133, but said the chip is "a point of conversation" between the two companies.

Isaiah is expected to offer significantly more performance than the C-7M processor while offering the same thermal characteristics. The two chips are pin-compatible, which means that no work will be required to adapt the 2133 -- or any other computer that uses the C7-M -- for the new processor. Laptop makers simply swap the C7-M for the newer chip, when it becomes available.

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