Via ships 650MHz and 667MHz Cyrix III processors

Via Technologies Inc., a Taipei-based supplier of PC chip sets and processors, introduced two new, speedier members to its growing Cyrix III family of processors on Thursday, running at clock speeds of 650MHz and 667MHz.

Targeted squarely at information appliances and the low-cost PC segment, the new processors carry a list price of US$55 each for the 650MHz version and $60 each for its 667MHz sibling, in quantities of 1,000 units.

The chips support system bus speeds of 100MHz and 133MHz, and integrate instructions for speeding up multimedia applications.

Both the 650MHz and 667MHz versions are available immediately, a company spokesman said. The fastest Cyrix III available before Thursday runs at 600MHz.

The Cyrix III chips are designed to fit into the same Socket 370 architecture used by Intel Corp.’s entry-level Celeron processors, which however are already available at clock speeds up to 766MHz.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc., however, still owns the bragging rights to the speediest low-budget PC processor on the market, with its 800MHz Duron chip.

Clock speed, however, is only one measure of a processor’s performance, and the Cyrix III has not fared well in reviews, in large part due the processor’s lack of performance-enhancing Level 2 cache memory. Celeron and Duron both have 128K bytes of on-chip Level 2 cache.

Via to date has also failed to sign up any major customers for the Cyrix III processors, although the company’s chip sets are to be found in at least some models from most major PC vendors.

By early next year, Via is scheduled to introduce its next-generation processor family, which will be based on a new core code named Samuel II. It will be manufactured on .15 micron process technology, as compared to the .18 micron of the current generation. Chips based on the Samuel II core are expected to reach clock speeds of up to 1GHz by mid-2001, company officials said earlier.

Via Technologies, in Taipei, can be reached at