VIA launches "open source" notebook

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Do you own a small fabricating plant in Taiwan? Do you have an engineering team of ten PhDs? Do you want to make small laptops? Has VIA got a deal for you. The VIA OpenBook reference design is not actually a product — it’s more of an idea. Because it is ostensibly open (the CAD plans are available on the VIAOpenBook site) you simply buy the chips from VIA and use the plans to build your own cases, keyboards, and I/O systems. What does this mean to you and me? Not much, unless we want to mill our own laptop parts out of plastic.

VIA isn’t really selling anything here other than its own motherboards and chips. The laptop portion is a bit of lip service to openness that corporations like to pay just to get their piece of the “open” mindshare. While the potential is there — mini laptops with powerful features hand-crafted by Cuban virgins out of sandalwood and jade come to mind — let’s just call this an advertisement for a mobile computing platform and leave it at that.

VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today introduced the new VIA OpenBook™ mini-note reference design targeted at the rapidly growing global market for ultra-portable notebooks.
 

The VIA OpenBook mini-note reference design introduces a host of new innovations, including the next generation of VIA Ultra Mobile Platform, based on the VIA C7®-M ULV processor and the new all-in-one VIA VX800 digital media IGP chipset. Together, this ultra compact, power efficient platform delivers richer computing and multimedia features, including a stunning 8.9″ screen and greater video playback support, in a compact and stylish clamshell form factor that weighs just 1kg.
 
The VIA OpenBook features a flexible internal interface for high-speed broadband wireless connectivity that provides customers with the ability to select from a choice of WiMAX™, HSDPA and EV-DO/W-CDMA modules appropriate to their market. In addition, under a unique collaborative approach, the CAD files of the external panels of the reference design are offered for download

under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 license to give customers such as OEMs, system integrators, and broadband service providers greater freedom in tailoring the look and feel of their device to meet the diverse needs of their target markets.
 
“The VIA OpenBook builds on the great success of the VIA NanoBook reference design launched last year, which has been widely adopted by numerous customers around the world,” commented Richard Brown, Vice President of Corporate Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. “Our unique open approach to case design customization and wireless connectivity flexibility, coupled with the higher levels of performance, further extends VIA’s leadership in the global mini-note market.”
 
“VIA is a forward thinking company that has realized that sharing enables a healthy ecosystem which helps them provide an innovative product which supports their core business,” commented Jon Phillips, Business and Community Manager for Creative Commons. ”Making the actual raw CAD files available under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license is a brilliant first step that clearly and legally allows others to emergently build upon VIA’s open innovation.”
The VIA OpenBook Mini-Note Reference Design

Powered by the VIA C7-M ULV processor and the VIA VX800 digital media IGP chipset, the VIA OpenBook mini-note reference design is a small, 1kg, 8.9″ mini-notebook form factor design that supports screen resolutions of up to 1024×600 and high performance VIA Chrome9™ DirectX™ 9.0 3D graphics. Advanced video acceleration for  MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9, VC1 and DiVX video formats, a VMR capable HD video processor and 8-channel HD audio make it a highly media rich mini-notebook platform.
 

The VIA OpenBook mini-note reference design offers unrivaled broadband connectivity options

though two internal modules, with the first one featuring WiFi, Bluetooth, and optional AGPS connections and the second one offering a choice of WiMAX, HSDPA, or EV-DO/W-CDMA options. In addition, the VIA OpenBook also comes with three USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port, and audio-in/audio-out jacks as well as a 4-in-1 card reader (SD/SDIO/MMC/MS) and a 2 mega-pixel dual-headed web camera.  
 
The VIA OpenBook supports a wide range of operating system environments, including Microsoft Windows Vista Basic, Microsoft Windows XP, and various Linux distributions. The device features up to 2GB DDR2 DRAM and can be equipped with a choice of hard disk drive and solid state storage options.
 
Featuring a 4-cell 2600mA lithium-ion battery, the VIA OpenBook delivers up to three hours of battery life and measures just 240mm(W)x175mm (D) x36.2mm (H).

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