Advanced Micro trying to break Intel monopoly on popular chip

November 13, 1990|By Peter H. Lewis | Peter H. Lewis,New York Times News Service

LAS VEGAS -- Advanced Micro Devices Inc. raised the stakes yesterday in its attempt to break Intel Corp.'s monopoly on one of the most popular microprocessors used in personal computers, showing off a chip that appears to match the functions of Intel's 80386DX microprocessor.

Intel has been the sole source of 386 chips for five years, and it has become the standard for millions of high-performance, IBM-compatible personal computers. The company is waging a nTC bitter legal battle to keep Advanced Micro from selling the chip to computer-makers.

Advanced Micro demonstrated its new chip, with the code name Longhorn, at the annual Comdex/Fall computer trade show in Las Vegas, where more than 1,800 computer companies are showing new products to an estimated 120,000 computer buyers and sellers.

Advanced Micro did not disclose a price for the device or say when it would be available. But officials said the Longhorn, as well as another chip that matches Intel's popular 80386SX processor, "will be important contributors to AMD's sales and profits in 1991."

If Advanced Micro can bring large numbers of Longhorn chips to market in 1991, it could snare at least 10

percent of the $950 million in annual revenues that Intel receives from the device, estimated Frank Michnoff, senior research analyst for the Meta Group, a market research company in Westport, Conn.

Unlike earlier generations of Intel microprocessors, which Advanced Micro has been co-manufacturing for years, the Intel 80386DX is a 32-bit microprocessor capable of supporting a variety of software operating systems.

Computer software companies have developed billions of dollars worth of system and application software to take advantage of the 386. Virtually all makers of personal computers, including giants such as IBM,

Compaq, Tandy and Intel's own systems manufacturing division, are customers.

The 80386SX is a less powerful version of the chip that is popular in low-priced desktop and portable personal computers.

Advanced Micro executives said 20 major computer companies were evaluating the Longhorn chip, but they declined yesterday to name any of them. None of those companies has formally committed itself to using the chip.

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