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December 29, 1999

Via Pays $146m for S3 Stake

By CBR Staff Writer

Taiwanese chip design house Via Technologies Inc paid $145.8m last week for a 14.9% stake in S3 Inc, building on a 2.5% stake and the joint venture that it has already has in place with the Santa Clara, California-based graphics chip developer. The two firms are working together to develop chipsets and single chips that integrate central processing unit, graphics and audio functions, marketed at manufacturers of low cost PCs and internet appliances.

The two firms have finalized the management team for their S3-Via Inc joint venture. The chairman and CEO of S3, Ken Potashner, will also serve as the chairman of S3-Via. The president and CEO of Via, Wen-Chi Chen will also serve as the CEO of the joint venture. Rick Bergman, a general manager from S3’s multimedia division will serve as the firm’s general manager.

S3-Via is expected to launch its first integrated chipsets for desktop PCs early next year. The chipsets will use S3’s Savage4 graphics architecture and the ‘Joshua’ microprocessor core that Via acquired with its buy-out of the Cyrix x86 unit last year. S3 and Via are eyeing the success that Intel has had with its 810 Whitney integrated chipset in the value PC market and looking to undercut the San Jose, California-based chip maker. Over time, the companies expect to develop chipsets for the notebook market and integrated single chip products for set-top boxes and other internet appliances. These products will compete with the Geode family of chips from National Semiconductor Inc and the forthcoming Timna integrated graphics/CPU part from Intel.

Meanwhile, graphics rival Nvidia Corp has filed suit against S3 for alleged patent infringement. However, both companies are remaining tight-lipped about what technology patents cover.

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