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IDT ships low-cost Intel clone

The chipmaker starts volume production of a new, inexpensive 200-MHz processor for cheap PCs.

IDT is starting volume production of its new low-cost 200-MHz processor, with faster speed chips to come later this year, the company announced.

The Santa Clara, California, chipmaker offers its Intel-compatible WinChip to PC vendors building low-cost boxes. In the past, the company has said that its chips are targeted at the sub-$800 desktop PC market and sub-$2,000 notebook computer market.

Most of the production of the Intel-compatible WinChip has been moved from California to a new plant in Oregon, according to the company. IDT has also consigned production to IBM for some chips, as part of a recent agreement with Big Blue intended to boost customer confidence in IDT, particularly where large orders are concerned.

A 200-MHz WinChip costs a little over $70, with the price decreasing for large-volume customers.

"They're going after a substantial market channel that is not generally served very well...What IDT observed is that there was an opportunity there with very small, very cost-sensitive vendors. It was an open opportunity," said Dean McCarron, an analyst with Mercury Research.

"They are very early on in their product cycle, but sales are increasing," McCarron noted. "They don't need that much in the way of sales for it to be a successful product."

IDT has focused on taking a less-complicated processor that has a lot in common with the 486 processor and making it run all the Pentium instructions, McCarron explained. It boasts Pentium-class performance, he added.

Low-cost Intel-clone processors are increasingly winning over lower-tier PC makers as a way to reduce production costs on sub-$1,000 PCs. IDT sells to small customers such as Evergreen Technologies, Computer Works, and PC Club.

Although Intel-only PC giants such as Dell and Gateway 2000 sell far more systems per month than vendors like Computer Works and PC Club, the category of small computer vendors makes up over one-third of the PC market, according to IDT.

The IDT WinChip is currently being shipped in speeds of 180 MHz and 200 MHz, and will be available at 225 MHz next quarter.