Chip maker IDT is bidding to become a major contender in the x86-compatible processor market. Last week, it began shipping samples of its new Winchip 2 and outlined its product roadmap for 1998-99.
The Winchip 2 moves IDT up from the very low end of the market where it has been operating. The chip doubles the MMX and floating point performance of its predecessor, the Winchip C6. This puts the chip on par with the Pentium MMX or even Pentium II at equivalent clock speed, claims IDT.
The company will make two versions of the processor: the Winchip 2 and the Winchip 2 3D. The latter includes 3DNow! technology licensed from AMD. Both will debut at clock speeds of 225, 240 and 266MHz, with 300MHz planned for the end of the year. It will support bus speeds up to 100MHz.
The Winchip 2 is based on the Socket Seven interface that Intel has abandoned in favour of Slot One.
The processor will be manufactured in IDT's own plants, initially using 0.35 micron and later on a 0.25 micron process. IBM will also manufacture the chip, starting in the fourth quarter.
The WinChip is expected to ship in volume in July and, in the fourth quarter, IDT plans to launch the Winchip 2+ which will include more on-chip Level 1 cache.
In early 1999, the company will introduce a version of the chip with an integrated memory controller. In the second quarter of 1999, IDT 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 the company delivers on this roadmap, it will be level with AMD and able to challenge Intel in the midrange of its processor line-up.
IDT's current 200MHz Winchip C6 sells for $50 (#31).
Michael Slater, editorial director of the Microprocessor Report, described IDT as lean and efficient. "The company can be successful without having to gain as much market share (as other chip vendors)," he said.
Now: sampling Winchip 2, 225-266MHz speeds
July 1998: volume shipments of Winchip 2
Late 1998: 300MHz Winchip 2
Late 1998: Winchip 2+, with added Level 1 cache
Early 1999: Winchip 2 with inbuilt memory controller
2nd quarter 1999: Winchip 3 with redesigned processor core and speed of around 500-600MHz.
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