- Q. What is the Cyrix 6x86 processor?
- A. The sixth-generation 6x86 processor, formerly the M1, is a high-performance superscalar, superpipelined, x86 processor.
- Q. Why is Cyrix, a microprocessor manufacturer, selling PCs?
- A. We want people to know about the outstanding performance advantages of the Cyrix 6x86 processor. Marketing 6x86 PC systems is a key element in promoting Cyrix processors to end users, thus promoting demand for our OEM customers' 6x86-based PCs.
- Q. Will Cyrix continue selling processors to OEMs?
- A. Yes. The vast majority of Cyrix processors will be sold to OEMs and PC dealers who will market 6x86-based PCs under their own brand.
- Q. How does it differ from the Pentium® processor?
- A. Most significant are the architectural differences which result in the 6x86 processor's superior performance gains. While both the 6x86 and Pentium® processors are superscalar and contain an 80-bit floating point unit and a 16-KByte primary cache, other architectural features are found only on the 6x86. The 6x86 processor's integer and floating point units are optimized for maximum instruction throughput by using advanced architectural techniques including register renaming, out-of-order completion, data dependency removal, branch prediction and speculative execution. These design innovations eliminate many data dependencies and resource conflicts to achieve high performance.
- Q. What is the difference between the Cyrix 6x86 and 5x86 processor?
- A. There are significant differences between these two Cyrix processors. The 5x86 processor, formerly the M1sc, is pin-compatible with a 486. However, the 5x86 uses many fifth-generation features (branch prediction, data forwarding, superpipelining, etc.) to achieve performance equal to Pentium processors. The goal for the 5x86 was to achieve an efficient design, obtaining the highest performance possible using the fewest transistors to obtain entry-level Pentium processor performance. A 120 MHz 5x86 performs on par with a 90 MHz Pentium processor.
The Cyrix 6x86 processor is a high-performance, sixth-generation CPU that is P54C socket-compatible. It incorporates a 64-bit external data bus (5x86 use a 32-bit external data bus) and a variety of innovative architectural features that enable it to outperform higher-megahertz Pentium processors to achieve best-in-class performance. Additional design information can be found in the 6x86 Processor Brief.
- Q. Can I use the Cyrix 6x86 processor as an upgrade for my 586 computer?
- A. Cyrix doesn't sell the 6x86 processor as an upgrade processor. However, some dealers or resellers may offer a 6x86 upgrade solution.
- Q. Will future 6x86 processors work in the 6x86-based PC I buy today?
- A. Yes. Cyrix offers users of 6x86-based PCs an easy path to higher performance for Windows NT and to MMX technology that protects today's PC investment. The next version of Cyrix's 6x86 processor, code-named M2, will provide optimum performance on 32-bit software and will be fully MMX compatible. This new processor will leverage today's 6x86 motherboard platforms, allowing plug-in upgrades for today's buyers of 6x86-based PCs. Purchasers can buy a 6x86-based PC now, with a guaranteed path to future technology via an M2 upgrade.
- Q. Is the 6x86 processor compatible with existing software?
- A. Yes. The 6x86 is compatible with x86 software and all popular x86 operating systems including Windows® 95, Windows, Windows NT, OS/2, DOS, Solaris and UNIX. Additionally, the 6x86 processor has been certified Windows 95 compatible by Microsoft. While we cannot test every x86 application available, the Software Compatibility List is updated frequently to provide an index of hundreds of applications and programs that have been tested on systems using the Cyrix 6x86 processor.
- Q. Is the Cyrix 6x86 processor certified for Windows 95?
- A. Yes. Cyrix tested the 6x86 processor on hundreds of x86 software applications to ensure compatibility with new and existing software. Additionally, the 6x86 processor (up to and including the 166+ processor performance class) has been certified Windows 95 compatible by Microsoft. We're licensed by Microsoft to use the "Designed for Windows 95" logo for these classes; the P200+ performance class is under Microsoft testing.
- Q. Can the 6x86 processor run 16-bit and 32-bit software?
- A. Yes. The 6x86 was designed to run existing 16-bit software as well as the latest 32-bit software.
- Q. What are the performance results for the 6x86 processor?
- A. We list full, competitive 6x86 performance results for several industry benchmarks. The tests show that the 6x86 processor outperforms higher-megahertz Pentium processors in each performance class.
- Q. What is this new performance, or P-rating, system Cyrix is using?
- A. The P-rating system was jointly developed by Cyrix, IBM Microelectronics, SGS-Thomson Microelectronics, and Advanced Micro Devices. The P-rating system allows end-users to base purchases on relative PC performance levels rather than just the clock speed (MHz) of the processor. The new evaluation system relates the results of industry-standard benchmarks to what is achieved by an Intel Pentium processor of a given frequency. For example, a processor with a P150 rating would have performance comparable to a 150 MHz Pentium processor, regardless of its actual clock speed.
- Q. Why was the P-rating developed?
- A. Clock frequency (MHz), while important, is no longer an accurate or consistent measure of CPU performance. Architectural differences between processor designs add another variable to the equation. With the P-rating in place, a PC buyer can easily evaluate all personal computer processors for a given performance category -- without scrutinizing the architectural merits of the different processors.
MicroDesign Resources (MDR) Labs conducted independent performance testing of the 6x86 processor. Commenting on the P-rating methodology, Michael Slater, president of MicroDesign Resources and publisher of the Microprocessor Report, said, "This is the first comprehensive and credible method for comparing competing processors based on the relative performance they bring PC users under real-world conditions. It standardizes test system configurations based on commercially available components, and it uses the most widely recognized and utilized application-based benchmark tests. I expect the new P-rating methodology to achieve broad industry acceptance."
- Q. How does the P-rating work?
- A. The P-rating process uses a standardized system configuration and application-based benchmark tests to establish a performance, or 'P,' rating relative to a Pentium processor of a given frequency (MHz). This levels the playing field and allows the measurement of relative processor performance under real-world conditions, regardless of the processor's clock speed (MHz) or architecture.
- Q. What benchmark test is used in the P-rating?
- A. Ziff-Davis Winstone® 96 is used because it is a real-world, application-based benchmark that contains the most popular software applications (based on market share) that run on a Pentium processor. Winstone 96 also is the most widely used benchmark, and is freely distributed and available.
- Q. Why is there a plus mark in each 6x86 processor name?
- A. For the 6x86 processor, a P+ designation is used to indicate better performance.
Winstone 96 6x86-Pxxx+ > Winstone 96 Pentium-xxx
xxx = P-rating or Pentium megahertz
- For example, a 6x86 processor with a P-rating of "P166+" (regardless of processor name and clock speed) indicates performance faster than a 166 MHz Pentium processor. The plus mark indicates performance that consistently exceeds the same Pentium processor megahertz level.
- Q. What 6x86 processors are currently available?
- A. The 6x86-P166+ (133 MHz), 6x86-P150+ (120 MHz), and 6x86-P133+ (110 MHz) processors are in volume production now. Volume production of the 6x86-P200+ (150 MHz) is planned for August.
- Q. What is the cost of the 6x86 processor?
- A. Prices are subject to change. The pricing (as of August 9, 1996) is:
All prices are for quantities of 1,000. For additional pricing information, please contact the Cyrix Processor Support Desk.
- Q. How can I purchase the 6x86 processor?
- A. Computer manufacturers around the world can buy in volume quantities directly from Cyrix. PC integrators, VARs, dealers, resellers, and retailers can purchase Cyrix processors through an independent Cyrix U.S. distributor or worldwide distributor. End users can purchase a computer that uses the 6x86 from local PC dealers. There is more information available on purchasing Cyrix processors.
- Q. What if I have more questions?
- A. Please contact the Cyrix Processor Support Desk.