National Semiconductor Corp. has acknowledged that layoffs related to the sale of its Cyrix Corp. subsidiary to Via Technologies Inc. will likely delay shipments of Via's newly acquired, next-generation microprocessor lines.
The affected designs include Cyrix's M-III processor, code named Mojave, and a 6x86 derivative known internally as Gobi.
Originally scheduled to ship in the first half of 2000, the Mojave core could be delayed until next fall, according to Ajay Misra, senior marketing manager for standalone processors at Cyrix's Richardson, Texas, facility. "It's hard to say," he said.
Analysts still expect the Mojave core will feature 256 Kbytes of on-chip level-2 cache and an interface to Direct Rambus DRAM.
Misra added that corporate emphasis is now on Gobi, the third revision of the company's 6x86 core that was tweaked to form Cyrix's current M-II chip. The release date of Gobi-known as Jedi before Star Wars creator Lucasfilm Ltd. asked Cyrix to change the name-has also reportedly slipped. Analysts expected a 433-MHz equivalent would ship this quarter; Misra said Gobi will begin shipping in November or December at the equivalent of 466 MHz.
Via's $167 million purchase of Cyrix-combined with last week's acquisition of Integrated Device Technology Inc.'s Centaur Technology processor subsidiary-touched off a flurry of rumors related to Cyrix's next-generation chips.
Shortly after Via's decision to lay off more than half of Cyrix's 330 employees, rumors sprouted that the company had also killed off entire chip projects-including Cyrix's M-III processor-core program. At the time of the purchase, Via executives promised to leave Cyrix's product roadmap unchanged. But the Hsinchu, Taiwan, chipset maker's unexpected acquisition of IDT's WinChip microprocessor business prompted the company to renege on that commitment, according to several sources.
Jonathan Chang, vice president of operations and sales for Via's U.S. operations in Fremont, Calif., declined to comment. Cyrix and executives at National have denied the rumors, but added that all decisions rest now in the hands of Via's management team.
"Regarding the M-III design team, I hate to be this kind of person, but we're not releasing specifics on exactly who was laid off," said Steve Tobak, vice president of corporate marketing for National, Santa Clara, Calif. Speaking to the alleged demise of the Mojave project, Tobak said "That's not the case at the present time, although I'm not going to state that there have not been any developments...At this time, the final decisions have not been made."
Wendell Watson, who until he was laid off last week was a Cyrix spokesman, said when reached at home that to his knowledge the Mojave program was active. When asked to comment on the speculation, Misra said, "Mojave's still there. Nothing's been canceled."
Several executives said the Cyrix layoffs were across the board, affecting marketing, engineering, and support staff. Although top Mojave designers reportedly were among those let go, Misra said the project has no one key architect. "Everybody can be replaced," he said.