A row is set to erupt between Cyrix and IBM after the latter decided last week to undercut its manufacturing partner by offering the same processors at a lower price.
The move could precipitate the end of the agreement between the companies, under which IBM makes parts for chipmaker Cyrix, now part of National Semiconductor. Natsemi is gearing up to manufacture all its parts itself.
IBM Microelectronics last week announced the release of two chips in its 6x86MX range, which are produced as part of the agreement with Natsemi.
The company said both the PR300 and the PR333 are currently sampling to customers, with the processors available in volume next month.
However, IBM appears to be planning to sell the products at a lower price than the Cyrix chips, which are practically identical. A statement said: "At an even lower price point, the IBM 6x86MX uses the same design as the IBM-manufactured Cyrix MII-300 product. Both IBM products benefit from IBM's unique packaging and extensive testing processes to ensure high quality and reliability."
IBM also claimed that its own distribution operations are designed to meet volume availability requirements of PC system integrators and resellers, while its system design expertise provides manufacturers and resellers with "unparalleled technical support".
Two years ago, a row broke out between Cyrix and IBM when the former's channel partners complained IBM was selling the same processors at lower prices.
One distributor, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Cyrix has been shipping these products for a month now. IBM is repositioning the product to make it slightly different. This is really a part-time thing for IBM.
It won't be long before Natsemi stops using IBM to fabricate the parts."
He added that, in his view, Natsemi is readying its own solution conforming to the Slot One design now favoured by Intel, while continuing to ship older Socket Seven parts.
National Semiconductor was not available for comment.
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