Cyrix is poised to mount a serious challenge to Intel on its home turf, by producing its own version of the Pentium II microprocessor. The go ahead for Cyrix follows a legal agreement last week whereby Intel extended its cross-licensing agreements with National Semiconductor, which bought Cyrix last year. The deal means that Cyrix will be able "to make its own flavour of Pentium II as well as being able to use Slot 1", according to an Intel spokeswoman. The news bodes well for Cyrix, which can now dump the dated socket 7 technology in favour of Intel's Slot 1 design. It also leaves behind AMD, which cannot use Slot 1. The agreement comes after Intel and National Semiconductor settled an existing patent infringement lawsuit, launched by Cyrix in May 1997. Alan Burnheimer, communications director at National Semiconductor, termed the deal "sensible, mature business". Under the terms of the agreement, Cyrix is allowed to "reverse engineer" the Pentium II but does not have access to all the intellectual property which Intel has protected as "trade secrets". According to Lynley Gwennap, vice president of the Microprocessor Report in the US, the secrets will not prevent Cyrix from making a serious competitor to the Pentium II. "Cyrix will have no major difficulty in producing a very competitive part," he said. "And it will also steal a lead on AMD." Joe D'elia, senior analyst at Dataquest, believes the deal will further increase Cyrix' presence in the high end microprocessor arena. "I think this is extremely valuable to Cyrix, but there's still a moving target for the company," he commented. "It will have to implement this technology and how long is that going to take?" Richard Baker, marketing manager at AMD, denied Cyrix will gain an advantage from using Slot 1, a patented Intel design which AMD is not allowed to use. "Super seven (an advanced version of socket 7) has plenty of life," he said. "There's absolutely no difference between socket 7 and Slot 1 in terms of performance. Even if Cyrix does go with Slot 1, it has a very short life expectancy because Intel is now looking at Slot 2."
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