iAPX-86 compatible chip-builder Cyrix Corp’s new parent could give it access to valuable technology patents which describe Intel Corp’s Pentium II processor, according to Investors’ Business Daily. And the paper suggests Intel is powerless to do anything about it. Cyrix was acquired by National Semiconductor Corp last month and NatSemi and Intel share a cross-licensing agreement that dates back to the 1970s which enables the two Santa Clara, California-based chipmakers to share each other’s technology until June 2000. The paper notes that while Intel’s Pentium uses a square Socket 7 design Pentium II’s Slot One is more rectangular and that the compatible chip-builders including Cyrix and Advanced Micro Devices Inc will at some point need to build Slot One functionality into their clone chips. NatSemi doesn’t hold Slot One designs or key Pentium II secrets, but the patents would surely help Cyrix develop credible competitive products. But NatSemi’s in an awkward position and reportedly hasn’t decided whether it will turn the know-how over to Cyrix which would in all likelihood unleash the wrath of Intel, also one of NatSemi’s most important customers.
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