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April 15, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

Cyrix Corp, Richardson, Texas has now landed the fabrication agreement that has been gestating with IBM Corp (CI No 2,348): under a five-year agreement with IBM’s Microelectronics Division, IBM will become a primary manufacturer of the Cx486 microprocessors and will also manufacture the its forthcoming M1 Pentium-class processors in its 0.5 micron CMOS technology. The chips will be made available on the open market with ‘IBM’ written on them. IBM’s Personal Computer Division may also choose to use them internally. IBM has been quietly fabricating processors for Cyrix’s own use since September 1993. The pair reckon they will become number two in the iAPX-86-compatible market, but are not presenting any hostages to fortune in terms of market share. The M1 chip is expected before the end of the year, but IBM cannot give exact dates for when its first Cx486s will appear on the merchant market. Despite appearances, IBM is trying to avoid billing the agreement as an all-out attack on Intel Corp and says that it wants to maintain good relations. Cyrix’s M1 design was chosen in lieu of manufacturing Pentium for a number of reasons, not the least being that it can be fabricated in pure CMOS whereas Pentium incorporates some BiCMOS technology. However IBM was also attracted by the licensing terms it was able to negotiate. IBM continues to make its Blue Lightning processors under licence, using Intel designs. Under the terms of the Intel agreement Blue Lightnings can be sold to third parties only as part of (albeit small) motherboards, but Cyrix chips will bear no such restrictions.

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