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Non-Intel processors spawn notebook price cuts

August 21, 1998
Web posted at: 1:40 PM EDT

by Andy Santoni


(IDG) -- As Intel readies a top-of-the-line, 300-MHz Pentium II mobile-PC chip for introduction in September, its competitors' chip prices could bring notebook PCs down to $1000 or less.

While Intel pushes high-end chips, customers increasingly are looking at systems built with Advanced Micro Devices, Cyrix, or WinChip CPUs, said Nathan Brookwood, a principal analyst at Dataquest, in San Jose, California. "Nobody has bought one of these things and died," Brookwood remarked.

Non-Intel computers can cost about $200 less than Intel boxes, said analyst Rob Enderle, area director at the Giga Information Group, in Santa Clara, California. However, saving a few dollars may result in unforeseen problems, he added. "For that $200, you're going to take on an additional risk."

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Today, corporate executives see PCs for less than $1000 and wonder why they are spending more, Enderle said, which puts pressure on PC suppliers to cut prices.

Intel will boost its highest-performance, and highest-priced, mobile chip from 266 MHz to 300 MHz on September 9, industry observers noted. The 266-MHz mobile Pentium II is priced at $444, and the price is likely to drop to about $375 next month. The price for the higher-performance 300-MHz CPU is likely to be closer to $600.

As a result of demand for less-expensive PCs, slower-speed Pentium II chips are harder to find. That should spur some users to look into inexpensive alternatives.

For example, the desktop version of the WinChip C6 processor sells for less than $50, and a mobile version of the WinChip 2, due by late 1998, will not cost much more than that, according to Jamal Haider, director of marketing for the WinChip at Integrated Device Technology.

Haider added that he expects notebooks to be available at prices below $1000 in 1998. There is about a $200 to $300 difference between an Intel PC and one based on WinChip, he said.

Forrest Norrod, senior director for mobile products at National Semiconductor's Cyrix Mobile Products division, in Longmont, Colorado, agreed that notebook prices soon will drop to less than $1000. "Desktop prices started falling through the floor," Norrod said. "We see the same dynamic coming to the portable."

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