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June 2, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 1:09pm

CYRIX AIMS ITS PENTIUM II ALTERNATIVE AT CONSUMER MARKET

By CBR Staff Writer

The latest company hoping to gather a few crumbs from Intel Corp’s table is Cyrix Corp, which is shrewdly targeting its new multimedia-enabled 6x86MX competitor to Pentium II at the low- to mid-range of the PC marketplace. While Intel and other iAPX-86- compatible chip builders such as Advanced Micro Devices Inc have aimed their latest microprocessors at the mid- to-high-end of the market, Cyrix’s new MMX multimedia-enabled part, formerly code- named M2 and manufactured by IBM Microelectronics, is designed be used in PCs targeted at consumers and small businesses which cost $1,500 or less. Cyrix claims this market is currently the fastest growing segment of the market and accounted for 40% of all PCs sold through US retail outlets in March. At $320, the 6x86MX- PR233 – Cyrix uses a P rating to measure performance rather than clock speed, and claims a P233 is faster than a 233MHz Pentium II – is priced 50% and 25% below equivalent offerings from Intel and AMD respectively. The Cyrix chip is supposed to ship in volume in July, sometime after AMD’s K6. Despite Intel’s warning that it will sell fewer microprocessors in its second quarter than it had expected, any company which can capture just a fraction of the market which Intel dominates with an estimated 85% share – which could generate it as much as $20bn revenue this year – should have a successful business on it hands. However analysts say 6x86MX must be more successful than Cyrix’s previous offering – the 5×86 or M1 – if the company, which reported revenue of $183.8m in 1996, is to have any chance of staying in the chip race. Cyrix says it hopes to ship 1million of the 6x86MX processors by year-end. The 6×6-PR166 – the equivalent of a 166MHz Pentium II – will sell for around $190 and a PR200 for $240. A PR266 part is expected in the fourth quarter. IBM is building the CMOS device in a five-layer metal .35 micron process, and will move it to .25 early next year when a PR300 device is also expected to become available. Big Blue uses the existing 6×86, which it also manufactures, in its Aptiva systems. IBM says it’ll offer its own versions of 6x86MX from August. The PR166 will cost $202 and the PR200 will be priced at $369. It will ship a PR233 device in September from $477. IBM and Cyrix claim a PR233-based system running Windows 95 is faster than both 233MHx Pentium II- and K6-based Windows 95 systems. The 6x86MX can take advantage of Pentium-generation hardware and peripherals chips because, unlike Pentium II, it uses the Socket 7 design. This enables manufacturers to assemble systems more cheaply by using existing parts. Cyrix has reportedly speeded up the 6×86 by quadrupling the amount of on-chip cache memory that was on the original design. New higher-performance versions of Cyrix’s existing Pentium-compatible MediaGX processors – PR166 and PR180 parts – are due in the third quarter and an MMX-enabled MediaGX in the fourth. Like DEC, Cyrix also has a patent infringement suit against Intel pending (CI No 3,161), though Intel has not yet responded to Cyrix’s charges that its Pentium family designs infringe on Cyrix patents. Bucking the general sell-off in technology stocks prompted by Intel’s revenue warning early Friday, Cyrix shares closed the day on Friday up $3.25, or nearly 15%, at $25.25. Meantime Intel this week takes the wraps of its new Pentium II-based video conferencing system, which includes a camera, monitor, add-in boards and ProShare software, that is expected to work over internet-based LANs and ISDN networks. It’ll reportedly cost from around $7,500. Other reports say the company will also debut a 233MHz Pentium MMX, the fastest in its class and last device manufactured in Intel’s .35 micron design.

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