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Via's latest nano processor, the 3000, has gone official today for a release in early 2010 in speeds ranging between 1-2GHz. The promise? Twenty per cent lower power consumption than old Vias and 1080p playback. Intel's gotten cocky enough in the space that we don't mind the competition one bit.

The Samsung NC20 is not only another 12.1-inch netbook that's just made its way to the States (more on the NC20 here), it's the first system with a Via Nano processor. (You know, for if you really hate Intel but found that AMD has abandoned you.) And now it's on sale at Newegg for $US550.

You may be wondering why every netbook we write about seems to have the same Intel Atom processor. Some of it has to do with Intel's prominence in the entire processor market at the moment (which makes competition from Via little contest), and some of it has to do with AMD not stepping up to duke it out in the tiny laptop arena. AMD simply has no interest in the mini-laptop market, and CEO Dirk Meyer makes it abundantly clear:

Via's Nano and Intel's Atom low-power processors are intended for slightly different purposes, but that didn't stop HardOCP pitting them against each other in performance tests, and coming up with some interesting results. In every single benchmark, the beefier Nano beat the Atom. In particular it was 59% better in MP3 encoding tests, 37% in Divx encoding and achieved double the frame rate in Quake 4. No surprises there: the Nano is designed to draw a little more current (53W against 45W) than the Atom, so it won't make it into quite the same hand-held gizmos as Intel's chip. But the tests revealed that under normal "desktop" usage, the Nano actually drew less power when idling. Looks like Via's got a hot one in its grip: we might expect to see more of this chip.