Taipei firm "saves" Cyrix

Taipei-based Via Technologies is buying National Semiconductor's Cyrix microprocessor business for an undisclosed sum. Analysts regard the move as good for consumers, because it ensures the continued survival of another competitor to Intel.

Via Technologies is buying National Semiconductor's Cyrix microprocessor business for an undisclosed sum.

The companies have signed a letter of intent under which Taipei-based Via will purchase the x86 microprocessor business, which competes with Intel in the PC arena. Via will continue to develop and market the product line, according to the brief statement it issued yesterday. Details about the structure and timing of the transaction will be released in the next month, the statement said.

The development is generally good for consumers because it ensures the continued survival of another competitor to Intel, according to one analyst.

"The good news is that someone has saved Cyrix," said Linley Gwennap, editorial director at Microprocessor Reports in Sebastopol, California. If Cyrix had simply been closed down, there would have been at best two (including Advanced Micro Devices Inc.) and at worst just one supplier of microprocessors for PCs, he said.

Via needs microprocessor technology in order to stay in the changing chipset business, Gwennap said, and gains that with Cyrix. Furthermore, it has had difficulty gaining access to Intel patent licenses, and presumably will now resolve that problem as part of the deal with National Semiconductor, which has those licenses.

"There's a chance that Cyrix and Via together can deploy new products that Cyrix has been developing for some time, but it will be challenging," Gwennap said, adding that it will be interesting to see how they will set up foundry arrangements for manufacturing Cyrix's chip designs.

Cyrix's market share for microprocessors had grown to 4 percent under National's ownership; the combination of its brand and National's backing was a strong one, Gwennap said. "It's not clear to me why they were so eager to dump it," he said of National's decision to sell.

Via designs and manufactures system logic chip sets and associated peripherals for PCs. It was founded in 1987 and made an initial public offering of its stock on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in March.

Via Technologies, in Taipei, Taiwan, is at +886-2-2218-5452, or at http://www.via.com.tw. National Semiconductor is based in Santa Clara, California and can be reached at +1-408-721-5000 or at http://www.national.com.

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