New guy in X86 chips aims low

A spin-off of static-RAM maker Integrated Device Technologies Inc. announced plans to enter the seemingly impenetrable X86 microprocessor market with a new line of processors.

Centaur Technology Inc., which was officially launched at PC Tech Forum here last week, announced that it has working samples of 150MHz, 180MHz and 200MHz processors with MMX Technology. The company plans to release the chips late in the third quarter.

At that time, the company also plans to release a processor at faster than 200MHz clock speeds.

Company President Glenn Henry seems fully grounded about his company's current status as a new X86 microprocessor company, but he's hoping to find a market in low-cost business PCs.

"We have no credibility in the X86 microprocessor space, but we will change that," said Henry.

By this time next year, the company will also release a new chip design that integrates Level 2 cache, he said.

Centaur is targeting its chips at the sub-$1,500 business desktop and notebook PC market, an area Henry said is not being adequately served by Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices Inc. or Cyrix Corp.

He claimed the current products are too slow, too expensive or too proprietary.

"Intel's pricing [on comparable parts] is ridiculously high. [Cyrix's] Media GX requires a special design ... and AMD K6 prices are also too high," he said.

Although Henry declined to give specific pricing for the forthcoming processors, he said the range could fall between $100 and $150.

The company can achieve such low price points partly because of the processor's small die size--88 square millimetres--which is at least 20 per cent smaller than competing chips.

The 43-person company has no OEM agreements lined up yet. Henry said initial deals will most likely be inked with Asia Pacific-based vendors.