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Compaq PC to stray from Intel fold

Compaq may come out with a low-cost computer based on an all-in-one chip from Cyrix.

Compaq (CPQ) may come out with a low-cost computer based on an all-in-one chip from Cyrix (CYRX).

This would be the first time in the last few years that Compaq ventured outside of the Intel fold and would also mark Compaq's entrance into a new low-cost category of computer products.

The Compaq computer, due possibly sometime in the first half of the year, is expected to use the Cyrix GX processor. This processor integrates a memory graphics controller, a PCI interface, and a 64-bit DRAM controller. These functions are usually integrated into discrete chip sets separate from the main processor.

Though it is not clear yet what kind of box Compaq would sell, the GX is targeted at the low-cost, possibly sub-$1,000 sector of computers.

"Intel has no directly competing device; the GX could be the lowest-cost solution for entry-level systems. Cyrix also won't have to compete with its partner IBM, which has no plans to sell the GX86 under its own brand name," said said Michael Slater, publisher of the Microprocessor Report.

In what may be a harbinger of the Compaq computer, Cyrix is planning a low-cost PC blitz early in 1997 based on the GX processor. This rollout is expected to include boxes which sell for between $500 and $1,000.

One box from Cyrix may appear as a VCR-sized computer with the GX processor, 16MB of RAM, a 1GB-class hard disk drive, and Microsoft's Windows 95, sources familiar with the product rollout said.

The GX processor is expected to run at 120 and 133 MHz. "It should perform comparably to a typical Pentium system," said Slater.