Chip newcomer aims low

IDT (Integrated Device Technology) this week formally announced its entry into X86 processors, taking aim squarely at budget and mobile PC buyers.

The Californian maker's WinChip C6 is a Pentium MMX-class device with initial clock speeds of 180MHz and 200MHz that will ship in early-1998 systems. 225MHz and 240MHz chips will sample late this year.

The chips are designed by IDT wholly-owned subsidiary Centaur Technology, led by president Glenn Henry, who formerly held senior engineering posts at IBM, Dell and MIPS, and based in Austin, Texas.

Centaur said that the WinChip is 30-60 per cent the size of the Pentium and consumes about half as much power. The parts slot straight into standard Socket 7 motherboards. Sales are expected in both desktop and mobile PCs, primarily at the entry-level. The firm admits it is targeting "third tier" PC assemblers.

"I'm waiting to see how they'll do," said Brendan Sherry, UK managing director of rival Cyrix. "They don't have a cross-licensing agreement with Intel and Intel has traditionally gone after people who don't have that, but maybe they'll have some joy in the notebook end of the market."

Separately, Centaur disclosed details of the next-generation WinChip C6+ processor. The firm said integer performance, floating point and MMX performance will all be boosted in the new design without affecting die size or Socket 7 compatibility. The chips will be made on 0.25-micron and 0.35-micron processes. First chips are scheduled to appear in the first half of 1998 at 266MHz with 300MHz following in the second half.