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IBM Micro-Cyrix agreement takes further twist

IBM claims lower prices and better distribution for same parts

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A Year Ago From The Register May 1998 A row is set to erupt between NatSemi-Cyrix and IBM after Big Blue said it would offer the same processors to the market but at a lower price. That could precipitate the end of the agreement between both companies, as National Semiconductor prepares to fabricate all parts itself. One source said it was on the verge of announcing its own Slot One solution to attack Intel on its own ground. It's a chicken and an egg situationA few days ago, it emerged that IBM Microelectronics had difficulty in setting up its distribution programme in Europe. IBM Microelectronics is set to inflame the situation further by asserting that its products have better packaging, testing and distribution than the same chips from Cyrix. The company today announced the release of two chips in its 6x86MX range. These processors are produced as part of a joint agreement with National Semiconductor-Cyrix. The company said both the PR300 and the PR333 are currently sampling to customers, with the processors available in volume next month. But IBM Micro appears to be selling the products at a lower price than the Cyrix parts, which are practically identical. A statement said: "At an even lower price point, the IBM 6x86MX uses the same design as the IBM manufactured Cyrix MII-300 product...while providing customers consistency with the Cyrix design, both IBM products benefit from IBM's unique packaging and extensive testing processes to ensure high quality and reliability." IBM also said that its own distribution operations are designed to meet volume availability requirements of PC system integrators and resellers, while its system design expertise provides manufacturers and resellers with "unparalleled technical support". Two years ago, a row broke out between Cyrix and IBM Microelectronics when the former's channel partners complained that Big Blue was selling the same processors were being offered at lower prices. One distributor said: "Cyrix has been shipping these products for a month now and this [announcement] is not really news. IBM is re-positioning the product to make it slightly different. This is really a part time thing for IBM Micro. It won't be long before National stops using them to fabricate the parts." He added that in his view National was readying its own Slot One solution which was where the market was and in the meantime was continuing to ship Socket Seven parts. AMD, however, had found itself in a cleft stick because it did not have a Slot One product. However, he said that it was still unclear whether or not a deal signed between IBM and AMD some weeks ago would allow the latter to bring out a Slot One solution. At press time, AMD was unavailable for comment. ®

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