Cyrix-based NetPC to debut in January

The first systems that follow the Microsoft-backed NetPC platform will be available in January 1997.

Based on a specially developed Cyrix CPU, the first system available will be from an undisclosed tier-one PC vendor, giving the category instant credibility. The system will use Cyrix's GX processor which runs applications faster than a 133MHz Pentium, handles graphics processing at very high speeds and also includes SoundBlaster emulation, according to the firm. 16Mb of RAM and a 1Gb hard drive will be standard in the device.

Cyrix UK managing director Brendan Sherry said vendors will produce NetPC systems based on a wide variety of designs including sealed units, VCR-style appliances and mobile systems. Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Digital have all said they support the NetPC design.

Sherry said that the NetPC design will have much greater near-term appeal than Java-based devices such as Sun's diskless JavaStation, announced this week. "[Sun] has created a category that will be reliant on the telecommunications infrastructure," Sherry said. "Users have a legacy of 15 years of software and the move to Java isn't going to happen overnight. People are used to the idea of running software on their hard drives. When all the dust settles, we're offering an alternative to the Network Computer (NC) and Java approach that can work this century."

Sherry added that Asian giants Mitac, Tatung and FIC will make boards based on the GX. By the summer of 1997, Cyrix plans to have a GX with soft-modem capabilities.

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