Intro and general questions
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Richard Brown, Director of Marketing at VIA Technologies Inc! We have thrown a good amount of questions covering many aspects of VIA and Richard was kind enough to give us detailed answers to all. Well, almost all, that is... :). So, if you are ready for broken NDAs, leaked gossips, the fastest cars, naked women, nasty politics and some explanation of economic trends in the worldwide oil industry, besides the full picture material of the coming Computex...
Richard Brown, the One with all answers :)
... well, have a drink, take a deep breath and relax. You will still like this interview. The evil guy asking the uncomfortable questions is Marton Balog of PROHARDVER.HU, but we figured that it is the best not to show his (my... I am the censor) photo to make sure noone leaves the article at this point :). So, let's check out the questions, which are typed boldface and the cool answers which do not bear any special characteristics (so as to compensate that the answers are that count :)). We will cover VIA chipsets, mainboards, CPUs and some other hot stuff.
Please tell us about the company VIA. When was it formed, what were and are your main goals, where are you heading?
VIA was established in 1989 and is a fabless semiconductor design house based in Taiwan. We are a leading player in the core logic chipset business, but also offer a variety of different products including VIA C3 processors, S3 Graphics controllers, and multimedia, networking, and communications chips. Most recently we have also begun building our own motherboards, including innovative, highly integrated new mini-ITX.
VIA chipsets were considered to be somewhat slower, less compatible and of lower quality than that of Intel's, for instance. However, this has drastically changed in the past years, VIA chipsets are now one of the most advanced, high performance and well-designed solutions. Could you briefly describe the progress that is responsible for the change? Which was the first chipset that VIA is "very proud of"?
As some of our newer competitors are beginning to learn, it takes a long time to learn about the chipset business. Our goal has always been to improve with each product generation, and I believe we have been successful in that. People really started taking notice of our chipsets when we launched the first PC133 chipsets for both socket 370 (694X) and then Slot A and Socket A (KX133 then KT133). It's difficult to say which chipset we are really proud of, because each generation keeps getting better and better. My own personal favorite is the KT266A; we took a lot of people by surprise when we launched that on the market.
VIA's hot & new favourite
Naturally the newest product - KT333 for Socket A and P4X333 for Socket 478 - are most technologically advanced, offer premium performance and great stability. As I mentioned before, our chipsets are getting better and better all the time.
Do you plan to build your own fab? What are the advantages/disadvantages of such a decision?
No. Our expertise is in silicon design. Being fabless allows us to very flexible and efficient, and we have very good partners with world leading technology such as TSMC.
Please evaluate your current position in the chipset, mainboard and CPU market. Also, please tell us where you plan to see yourself in one year from now.
VIA is undergoing a fundamental change. From a single-product company, we are expanding into several other fields. As you remember, recently we announced the Canaan project, which basically means that we are diversifying in many other directions apart from core logic chipsets. We have successfully entered the processor and mainboard businesses and soon we should show much greater activity and new product launches in the networking, communication, and storage and multimedia fields. These are fast growing and high-margin products. By the end of 2003 we are planning to get 50% of the revenue from products different than core logic chipsets.
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