Intel has lost significant market share to clone chipmakers in Europe in the past year. The clonemakers have picked up an estimated 10 per cent of non-business computer sales, according to a source at IBM Microelectronics, which co-manufactures 6x86 chips with Cyrix.
At the same time, Cyrix is set to firm up an agreement with major PC player Compaq, which is likely to produce a set of network computers based on the GX chip.
These hopeful signs coincide with a smaller loss for Cyrix than most financial analysts had predicted, with its fourth quarter showing a surge in sales. Turnover for the whole year amounted to $183.8 million, up 25 per cent from $228 million the year before. The yearly loss was nearly $26 million, with the last quarter accounting for $4.5 million of that. Turnover in the quarter was $72 million, a leap of 84 per cent from the equivalent quarter last year.
But the Cyrix-IBM combination is likely to have problems producing enough chips to meet demand. Cyrix is looking for additional fabrication capability and Texas Instruments' plant, close to the Cyrix headquarters, could be the answer to their problem, since TI announced this week that it will pull out of manufacturing Intel 486 clone chips to focus all its chip efforts on its digital signal processors.
Next month IBM and Cyrix will anounce their own answer to the Intel MMX processor when their M2 is released. Engineers at Cyrix have written their own instruction set for the processor and it is likely to cost as much as 40 per cent less than the Intel offering, according to an internal report. ?We believe that the M2 will be a better device and is being released early enough to the games developers that it will be equally supported for late summer to autumn this year,? the report said.
Brendan Sherry, European managing director at Cyrix, would not confirm that his company had an agreement with Compaq. ?We have major design projects in hand and we?re hopeful we?ll land some in the first few months of this year,? he said. ?The last quarter was good in revenue terms and we shipped every unit we could manufacture.? He said that Cyrix had a ?decent market? share in Europe but would not be pinned down to an exact figure.
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