A row is set to erupt between Natsemi-Cyrix and IBM after Big Blue said it would undercut its manufacturing partner, offering the same processors for a lower price.
That could precipitate the end of the agreement between the companies, under which IBM makes parts for Intel clonemaker Cyrix - now part of Natsemi. Natsemi is gearing up to manufacture all its parts itself.
IBM Microelectronics is set to inflame the situation further by asserting that its products have better packaging, testing and distribution than the same chips from Cyrix. The company today announced the release of two chips in its 6x86MX range, which are produced as part of the agreement with Natsemi-Cyrix.
The company said both the PR300 and the PR333 are currently sampling to customers, with the processors available in volume next month.
But IBM Micro appears to be selling the products at a lower price than the Cyrix parts, 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...while providing customers consistency with the Cyrix design, both IBM products benefit from IBM's unique packaging and extensive testing processes to ensure high quality and reliability."
IBM also said 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 Microelectronics when the former's channel partners complained that Big Blue was selling the same processors at lower prices.
One distributor 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 Micro. It won't be long before National stops using them to fabricate the parts."
He added that, in his view, Natsemi was readying its own solution conforming to the Slot One design now favoured by Intel, while continuing to ship older Socket Seven parts.
However, he said that it was still unclear whether a deal signed between IBM and Cyrix' arch rival AMD some weeks ago would allow the latter to bring out the Slot One solution it currently lacks, and so help it attack Intel on its own turf. At press time, AMD was unavailable for comment.
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