Cyrix dumps socket 7 and leaves AMD in the cold

Chip manufacturer Cyrix/National Semiconductor, is dumping socket 7 and looking to Intel's slot 1 solution for its mid-range products.

Steve Tobak, the company's VP for corporate marketing, told ZDNet News the socket 7 design would be abandoned, possibly by Q2 next year, when its bandwidth achieves 133MHz. "We wouldn't want to continue with socket 7 after 133MHz." said Tobak, who explained: "We are focused on the entry-level market, where it's easier and cheaper to integrate our core logic and 3D into the microprocessor and then onto a high performance 128-bit wide bus memory interface, thus eliminating the bottleneck with the socket."

Tobak would not commit on whether Intel's slot 1 design would be used in future mid-range products - Cyrix has the rights to use slot 1 thanks to a legal agreement between National Semiconductor and Intel - but admitted that "development [with slot 1] is being considered."

Joe D'Elia, senior analyst at Dataquest believes Cyrix has no option but to lose socket 7 and move to slot 1, a move he believes will leave AMD marginalised. "Socket 7 is a gonner anyway" he said. "If Cyrix is going to remain in the desktop market it is going to have to use slot 1 which leaves AMD with a virtually proprietary design - slot A (Alpha bus from Digital). AMD will be on its own, surrounded by slot 1 designs."

D'Elia believes AMD's slot A design may be good enough technically, but warned: "The market has proven again and again that performance is not what people are interested in. They want compatibility and the whole market will be using slot architectures."

AMD, which has extended the life of socket 7 with its own super-set of the design, does not agree. Richard Baker, the company's marketing manager said: "Socket 7 is not dead. What is happening is a continuing diversification of PC hardware. Intel has moved away with slot 1 and 2, we've diversified socket 7." He added: "We will be offering something fundamentally different to Intel but I can assure you our designs will retain compatibility."