As Intel and AMD continue to war for control of the desktop microprocessor market, a recent announcement made by HP shows that a third company, VIA, is still a contender. HP has chosen VIA microprocessors for new Compaq thin-client PCs for sale in China. They're cheaper and more energy efficient than many of the Intel and AMD chips for sale in the US and Europe, using just 20 watts of power while still managing a 1.5GHz clock speed.

Why aren't processors like these more prevalent in developed countries? As many countries around the world move to reduce energy consumption, it seems that VIA has placed itself well to gain a foothold in the microprocessor market. By working to develop processors that focus on efficiency and low-cost as opposed to raw power, they might be able to secure more contracts with major manufacturers than just HP's Chinese division.

Considering a large proportion of computer users in developed countries have little or no need for the computing power offered by the AMD and Intel processors, VIA has an opportunity to market to those using a computer for nothing more than e-mail, word processing, and web browsing. These users do not need (until Microsoft forces the replacement of XP with Vista) any of the recently released Core 2 Duo or FX processors from AMD and Intel. Granted, these companies offer processors aimed towards these basic use consumers, but there is nothing stopping a third company such as VIA from successfully selling competing products.

By marketing low-cost, energy efficient processors to the major computer manufacturers for distribution in developed countries, they can simultaneously reduce computer energy consumption and cost in more countries than just China. The biggest question is, would companies like Dell and HP want to advertise these computers over the powerhouses currently offered?