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Cyrix chip aimed at sub-$500 PCs

National Semiconductor's Cyrix arm is developing a complete system on a chip for sub-$500 computers, due in 1999.

National Semiconductor's Cyrix subsidiary is developing a complete system on a chip for sub-$500 computers as part of its effort to become the king of low-budget computing, National is announcing tomorrow.

The chip, to be released next year, will be similar in concept to the MediaGX processor already made by Cyrix. The new product will essentially consist of a microprocessor with a number of even smaller processors with discrete functions, such as 3D graphics acceleration, grafted onto the same piece of silicon. This process of integration drives down the overall system cost.

"National Semiconductor will put an entire PC on a chip by 1999," said Steve Tobak, vice president of corporate marketing at National. "Virtually everything but the memory [chip]...will be integrated on the chip."

When the new chip arrives next year, it will be targeted at television set-top boxes, computers costing less than $500, and notebooks selling under $1,000. The existing MediaGX processor will be aimed at computers above $500.

Its features will also differ. The new processor will integrate the entire chipset onto the single piece of silicon. Now, much of the chipset--related chips that work in tandem with the main processor--is separate on the MediaGX.

The new processor will integrate functions that will likely be of use in the consumer entertainment market. Mini-processors that may be included on the chip include silicon to playback full-motion video or for DVD playback.

The first versions of the new chip will use the core technology now used in the MediaGX. Later versions will adopt the forthcoming "Cayenne" processor core with enhanced 3D capability. Cayenne is due toward the beginning of next year and will first appear in MediaGX processors.