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May 12, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:32pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Exponential Technology Inc, the company working on high-performance variants of the PowerPC chip, has laid off a quarter of its 90 staff. The move was prompted by product delays that have led to lower than expected orders, and therefore lack of funds. But Exponential has also been handcuffed by licensing restrictions over the Apple ROM, which means it hasn’t been able to sell its chips to the Macintosh clone makers. With no revenues coming in, Exponential has been forced to go back to its investors for more funding. The San Jose, California-based company has recently been admitting that its first chips, which uses biCMOS technology, are running well below the target 500MHz plus clock speeds it’s been promising (CI No 3,145), and that it isn’t likely to hit those speeds until the third quarter of the year. Exponential unveiled its 533MHz chip last October, dubbing it the world’s fastest processor (CI No 3,026). But the first chips, now available in production quantities, run only 410MHz. If Exponential does get its promised 566MHz variant out by the fall, it still may not have enough of a performance advantage over rival 300-400MHz PowerPC chips from IBM Corp and Motorola Inc. Critics of the company point out that the longer pipelines and smaller caches of the company’s X704 chip will negate the performance advantages gained by the higher clock speeds, while the high power requirements will make it more expensive. There has been talk of 700MHz, and ever IGb PowerPC variants from Exponential, but no indication of when these might appear. Meanwhile the market for such high-end PowerPC chips continues to shrink. Apple Computer Inc, one of the company’s major investors, dug into its emptying pockets once again for Exponential’s recent $13m third round of financing at the beginning of this year (CI No 3,074). Yet although Apple has recently demonstrated a modified Power Mac 9500 with a 450MHz X704 microprocessor inside it at the Macworld Expo show in San Francisco, spokesman Russell Brady told the Journal that Apple had no plans to use any of Exponential’s chips. Exponential vice president of marketing Rick Bergman said that it wasn’t the size of the market that his company was disappointed in, more the openness of the PowerPC technology.

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