Intel Corp has been lifting the veil a little on the 80486 microprocessor that will follow on from the 80386. Integrating 1m transistors and planned to begin shipping in 1989, the chip is being designed to deliver mainframe performance in multi processor configurations while retaining binary compatibility with the 80386. In particular, the designers are looking for three to four times the integer and floating point performance of the 80386. Previously, the company has said that the 80486 was being designed in part to process artificial intelligence applications efficiently. The company also came close to confirming reports that it will shortly introduce an 80388, a 16-bit bus version of the 80386 which will be able to use cheaper 16-bit support chips and will enable designers to do low-end pseudo-32-bit workstations for under $1,000. It also promises 25MHz and 30MHz 80386s. In the meantime, Intel hopes to ship 2m 80386s next year, up from about 750,000 this year, and claims over 400 design wins for the part, for which demand still outstrips supply. If there is a cloud on the Intel horizon, it is NEC Corp’s V70 part and its follow-ons, which are upwards compatible with the 8086: the policy of not appointing a second source for the 80386 to increase supply has alienated many of Intel’s smaller customers, and if Intel does not quickly get supply of parts into balance with demand, some of those disaffected customers will make prime sales targets for NEC.
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