March 17, 1997 10:00 AM ET
Intel, Cyrix, AMD extend reach of desktop chips
By Lisa DiCarlo in Hannover, Germany

  Intel Corp., Cyrix Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. are enhancing their respective microprocessor architectures in an effort to yield new capabilities for desktop PC users.

Intel will release by year's end a high-end AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port)-based three-dimensional graphics chip, called 740GT, sources familiar with the plans said at the CeBIT trade show here last week.

Intel's 740GT will be among the first to support the Santa Clara, Calif., company's AGP bus, which improves performance by bypassing the main memory bus to execute commands. The processor will support 800-by-600-pixel resolution, 64 million colors and 30-frame-per-second video, sources said.

Intel officials said the company will release a range of graphics processors that exploit its AGP bus, but they declined to comment on specific products.

Cyrix, meanwhile, showed its next-generation M2 processor, which is due in June, behind closed doors at CeBIT. In the private demonstration, the Richardson, Texas, company showed an alpha version of the chip running at 166MHz. Officials said a higher clock speed part is due this summer.

In addition to boosting performance of multimedia applications, the M2 includes instructions that support software modems to lower costs for OEMs using the chip.

Cyrix also will add soft-modem support later this year to its MediaGX processors. Other MediaGX enhancements on tap for this year include a 75MHz bus, synchronous dynamic RAM support in the chip set and USB (Universal Serial Bus), with 3-D support planned for 1998, said Steve Tobak, Cyrix's vice president of corporate and channel marketing.

For its part, AMD last week announced plans to develop chip sets and motherboards to prolong use of Socket 7. The move is in response to Intel's decision to use a new cartridge design with its forthcoming Pentium II processor.

"Socket 7 support is not a problem today, but it will be in the future," said Jerry Sanders, president of AMD, in Sunnyvale, Calif. "We will not be held hostage to someone else's vision of the marketplace."

AMD's first chip set, the 640, is due by midyear. It features Advanced Configuration and Power Interface power management, USB, and plug-and-play support. Future versions will support AGP and the 1394 serial bus interface.

Separately, AMD plans to incorporate a 100MHz memory bus in its K6 late this year.

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