Chipmaker IDT on Tuesday made its bid to become a major contender in the x86-compatible marketplace. The company announced that it is shipping samples of its new Winchip 2, and outlined its product roadmap for 1998-99.
IDT, of Santa Clara, California, only recently appeared on the map as a manufacturer of x86-compatiple CPUs. Its first chip, the Winchip C6, was announced in May 1997, and only small volumes of the processor have shipped. IDT shipped no more than 20,000 processors in the last quarter of 1997, though it ramped up to more than 100,000 in the first quarter of this year.
The Winchip family is designed by IDT subsidiary Centaur Technology. At the PC Tech Forum, an industry event in San Jose, California, Centaur Technology founder and president Glenn Henry outlined the company?s roadmap for 1998-99.
The Winchip 2 moves IDT somewhat beyond the very low end of the x86 market where it had been stuck with its current chip. It doubles the MMX and floating point performance of its predecessor, the Winchip C6. According to IDT, this brings the chip up to par with the Pentium MMX or even Pentium II at equal clock speed.
IDT will sell two versions of the chip: the Winchip 2 and the Winchip 2 3D. The latter includes the 3DNow! technology, licensed from AMD. 3DNow! is a set of 21 instructions to speed up 3D graphics performance.
The processor will debut at clock speeds of 225, 240 and 266MHz, with a 300MHz version planned for the end of the year. It will support bus speeds up to 100MHz.
The Winchip 2 is based on the Socket 7 interface, which Intel itself has abandoned in favour of Slot 1. The processor will be manufactured in IDT?s own plants, initially in .35 micron and later also in .25 micron technology. IBM Microelectronics will also manufacture the chip, starting in the fourth quarter.
The WinChip is expected to ship in volume in July.
In the fourth quarter, IDT plans to launch the Winchip 2+, which will include larger on-chip Level 1 cache.
Then, in the first quarter of 1999, IDT will launch a version of the chip that integrates the memory controller.
In the second quarter of 1999, the company intends to move to a new generation of its processor core with the Winchip 3. This will run at somewhere between 500 and 600MHz.
If IDT delivers on this roadmap, this would bring the company up to par with AMD and challenge Intel in the midrange of its processor line-up. But Henry maintains the company concentrates first and foremost on low priced systems.
?We?re focused on the sub-$1,000 PC marketplace - on having the lowest cost design, and pricing accordingly," he said.
IDT's current 200MHz Winchip C6 sells for $50.
Like Cyrix, which has recently been favouring its integrated MediaGX processor over its higher end 6x86, IDT intends to integrate more of the basic parts of a PC motherboard into the CPU. ?We should eliminate the processor bus," said Henry.
Michael Slater, editorial director of the influential 'Microprocessor Report', described IDT as ?lean and efficient?. ?They can be successful without having to gain as much market share [as other chip vendors]," he said.
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