What Happened to Cyrix Processors? | Nostalgia Nerd

What Happened to Cyrix Processors? | Nostalgia Nerd

Cyrix. Whatever happened to them? Back in the 90s, they were one of the leading
developers of x86 compatible processors, but you mention the brand now, and people might
think you’re talking about the best enhance shaman on the face of the universe… if you
can even stand on the face of the universe? Wouldn’t that be god’s face? I dunno. Or maybe they might think you’ve mispronounced
Citrix. But a microprocessor developer is unlikely
to spring to mind. So let’s begin at the beginning and follow
this primarily 90s tale of semiconductor fabrication. It’s a sunny day in Richardson Texas, the
year is 1987 and Tom Brightman and Jerry Rogers are in a good mood. Mainly because they’ve just set the seeds
in motion for Cyrix Corporation. The world of solid state components is accelerating
rapidly and the duo believe they’ve identified an area where they can thrive. Neither is a stranger to this world, both
having worked at Texas Instruments, before following brimming career paths. Jerry’s stint at TI involved work as a VLSI
design engineer and manager, filing 12 patents for microprocessor and controller work. He became Vice President and manager of the
microprocessor division in 1981 before moving to become CEO of Visual Information Technologies. It was from here that he met Sevin Rosen,
a venture capital firm that would assist in the launch of Cyrix with $4 million of start
up capital. Tom also worked in the field of VLSI since
1975, designing numerous network, microprocessor and DSP based system products and integrated
circuits. After Texas Instruments he was key in manufacture
at both Commodore and Atari before reuniting with Jerry in 1987 to start on their new venture. The niche the duo had discovered was in the
world of intel compatible math co-processors. The market was ready and there was little
competition other than Intel’s own components. But rather than x-raying Intel’s chips and
copying the layout, instead Cyrix based their chips around completely new logic referring
to the documented and seeking the undocumented functions of Intel’s products. Using these methods and armed with only a
30 man design team, Cyrix were able to create 2 clones with a very high degree of compatibility,
These were the Cyrix FasMath 83D87 and 83S87, for the DX and SX 386 chips respectively. Unlike the 387DX, the Cyrix chips do not support
asynchronous operation of both the CPU and co-processor but had advanced power saving
features which automatically shut down unused parts of the chip. The increased reliance on hard wired logic
over microcode, also allowed the Cyrix designs to operate at a greater speed than Intel’s
implementations on floating point operations. Cyrix being a fabless operation outsourced
manufacture of these initial chips to their friends at Texas Instruments, and by 1989,
had launched their DX chip at both consumer and business users, with the SX variant following
in 1990. Both chips slightly undercut Intel equivalents
in price, making them a very tantilising prospect for users looking to upgrade their machines
with floating point acceleration, and initially, this was the main selling point. In the field, floating point benchmarks of
the 83D87 showed performance almost twice as fast as Intel’s equivalent, although in
other tests, this was much less pronounced. But it was enough to secure Cyrix’s place
in the market and their expansion onto bigger and better things. This started with the EMC87 co-processor in
June 1990, which offered even greater speeds than their previous units, followed in 1991
by the FasMath CX-82S87 – such a catchy name. Based around their 83D87, this was a 287 interchangeable
coprocessor, although a much faster one, quickly finding it’s place as the fastest co-processor
available for 286 based machines. Cyrix weren’t mainstream by this stage, but
were quickly acquiring a name for doing things faster and cheaper, so in 1992 when Cyrix
announced upgrades for actual 386 processors, it was no real surprise. By now Intel’s 486 processor was becoming
well embedded in desktop computers, having launched in 1989, however many users were
still using 386 machines and wanted a cheaper upgrade route. It’s with this in mind that Cyrix released
the 486SLC and 486DLC chips in May and June 1992 respectively. The SLC was a pin compatible replacement for
386SX processors, which only had a 16 bit data-path, with the DLC a replacement for
DX equivalents, offering a full 32 bit data-path Available in 25, 33 and 40MHz flavours, benchmarks
were quite favourable, especially when cost was considered, with the 40MHz DLC able to
outperform a true 25MHz 486SX machine. Essentially these chips contained a 486 instruction
set, coupled with a 1KB Level 1 cache – 7KB less than an Intel 486, and quickly acquired
the moniker of, “a half 486”. But they weren’t the only processors of this
kind. 386 upgrade competition was also provided
by Intel’s own RapidCAD processor and Chips & Technologies Super386, however both of these
lacked even the 1KB of L1 cache and proved less successful than the Cyrix offering. These 486 wannabe’s gained some traction among
budget minded enthusiasts, however they failed to enter the OEM market on any significant
scale, although the SLC chip did gain some favour with laptop manufacturers due to it’s
low power consumption and ease of installation. It effectively allowed suppliers to boast
laptops with a “486” named chip, at a fraction of their competition’s cost. Cyrix went on to release the 486SRX2 and DRX2;
essentially clock doubled versions of their earlier upgrades. They also eliminated some issues their previous
chips had with cache control lines on early 386 motherboards. It would be May 1993 where Cyrix would start
to enter the mainstream, alongside AMD and Intel, with a Intel 486SX pin compatible CPU,
the Cx486S processor, codenamed M5. This was followed by the DX and DX2 versions
in the same year which offered clock doubling, the same as Intel’s DX2, but at a significantly
cheaper price. If only enthusiasts had heard of Cyrix up
until now, this would be the point that the average PC buyer might start to take notice
and factor this lower cost alternative into their decision making process. Breaking rank from their previous designs,
the new processors did benchmark slightly lower than AMD and Intel counterparts, but
their ability to run at 5v compared to the 3.3v of AMD chips meant they could be used
as upgrades in early 5v 486 motherboards. This time round various OEMs took notice,
and proudly advertised their new wallet friendly 486 machines, although large brands like Acer
and Compaq were wooed only by the AMD alternative, leaving Cyrix still as a bit of an underdog
in this silicon race. It was around this time that a tombstone was
erected in the Cyrix main office stating RIP Intel Inside, something Jerry was very proud
of. The problem was, 1993 was also the year Intel’s
P5 architecture landed, with the original Pentium processors. Cyrix, and indeed, other manufacturers such
as AMD, had some catching up to do. ** This is also around the time of a number of
lawsuits, one of many the company seemingly found itself either instigating or caught
up in, spending more each year on suit than it’s original $4 million start up capital. At the time Intel seemed to have a gripe with
every rival x86 manufacturer and gave no exceptions to Cyrix. However, with Cyrix’s from the ground up approach,
Intel were set to invariably lose. An out of court settlement then gave Cyrix
the right to produce it’s own x86 designs in any foundry which held an Intel licence. Texas Instruments held a licence, but during
1994, Cyrix would fall out with them over production difficulties. Instead, an alliance with an alternative licence
holder; IBM Microelectronics was established. Being unable to produce the chips themselves,
having a reliable fabricator was essential for Cyrix and therefore the possibly less
than favourable deal struck meant that IBM earned the right to build and sell half of
the Cyrix designed processors under the IBM name. This might sound quite dreary, but 1994 would
still prove to be a record year for growth of
the business. By 1995, Cyrix’s Pentium clone was still not
ready, but instead they had their old trick up their sleeve. This trick would be presented in the form
of the Cyrix Cx5x86 processor. Just like their early 386 upgrades, this chip
plugged directly into a 3.3v 486 socket and ran at 80, 100 or 120MHz speeds. Running at 100MHz yielded performance comparable
to a Pentium 75MHz, and this was by far the most common iteration of the chip….. and
so, just like that, us 486 owners seemingly had an upgrade route to Pentium bliss, but
without having to do much more than shell out a few quid… of course, it wasn’t quite
that simple. You had to have a compatible BIOS to begin
with, and then of course, there was capabilities. This time around, Intel had beaten Cyrix to
it, and had launched the 486 pin compatible Pentium Overdrive in February 1995; some 6
months before the 5×86. However priced at $299, or around £250 over
in the UK, this was definitely not a cheap upgrade route, and what’s more, chips like
the 5×86 outperformed it in most benchmarks. Although the Overdrive was far more compatible
with the Pentium instruction set, whilst the 5×86 was more like a souped up 486 processor. Although the 5×86 was affordable, one area
of contention was the lack of branch prediction; a key element of the Pentium line, and I say
contention here because, the 5×86 did have branch-prediction, and indeed the benchmarks
Cyrix pushed were with the branch-prediction features turned on, but due to instabilities,
it was disabled before release. Cheeky, cheeky. You could in fact, re-enable this through
specialist software, but it resulted in an unstable system, so was fairly useless. For people like myself who spent weeks pouring
over benchmarks seeking an upgrade route, this was quite a disappointment. Of course, the processor was much faster than
my 486, but it just failed to present the same optimisations in newer games, or even
run them at all, given most software was then being designed with a true Pentium architecture
in mind. But still, having a 5×86 processor installed
in my system always gave me a warm feeling every time I booted it up. For some reason I’ve always enjoyed seeing
systems pushed to their absolute limits, and so for me, this was therefore the perfect
processor, whether I’d intended it to be, or not. Searching through coverdisks for Pentium only
software that worked on my 5×86 was my kind of mustard, but when it did happen I had the
smug satisfaction that my CPU was truly ahead of AMD’s Am5x86, which was merely a clock
quadrupled 486, trying to shuffle in on the act. Although, to be fair, I don’t think I ever
did find any Pentium only software that would run on it. But that would all change. The 5×86 only had a production run of a measly
6 months as Cyrix diverted all their energy and production to focus on their new 6×86
processor (codenamed, the M1). IBM would be left manufacturing their own
5×86 iterations until 1998, but of course, would also gain rights for the 6×86 under
their production agreement. This sixth generation processor (in the eyes
of Cyrix at least) was one of the first true Pentium rivals on the market, launching on
October 6th 1995 and beating AMD’s K5 by several months. This was their first P5 socket compatible
processor and early reviews were very good. You can see in this PC Magazine Winstone benchmark
from March 1996, the Cyrix 6×86 100 is beating both Pentium 120 and Pentium 133 systems,
and for a cheaper price. There was little not to like, and this would
see Cyrix quickly escalate from budget upgrade path provider, to technological leader of
the pack. The first 3.5v 100Mhz units did need substantial
cooling (by 90s standards at least), as can be seen here, but this was rectified with
subsequent 2.8v models. Of course, Cyrix knew they’d cracked something
big here, and in January 96, alongside their competitors AMD, SGS-Thompson and also IBM
had defined the P-Rating system that would start appearing after March on the official
names of their processor. The 6×86/100, would become the 6×86 P120+,
the 110 would become the P133+ and so on. Based on Winstone 96 results conducted by
Microstone Resources, the change was primarily implemented so that consumers weren’t put
off by the lower MHz numbers, but it also made more sense from a comparison perspective. Some people were baffled & even enraged by
the system, but pushed by Cyrix and their partners, it quickly became the accepted norm. Of course, if you look at the super-pipelined
architecture of the 6×86, it’s easy to see why it outperformed the P5. It’s actually more similar to a Pentium Pro
than a bog standard Pentium, with features such as register renaming, multibranch prediction
and speculative execution, and being optimised for 16 and 32 bit Windows applications, it’s
performance was bound to excel in the consumer market. This really peaked in June with the 6×86 P-200,
becoming the fasted x86 based CPU in the world, and the first non-intel chip to achieve that
status in 18 years. It needed a 75MHz bus, but for those interested
in performance, it was an essential upgrade. Intel may have had superior fabrication abilities
with the Pentium manufactured to a .35 micron process, compared to IBM’s .5, but they were
falling behind the efficiencies and optimisations designed into the underdog’s chip. By this point, Intel, were understandably
irked, and with little direction to move, threatened action against the P-Rating system,
as people were mistakenly referring to it as “Pentium Rating” rather than “Performance
Rating”. Cyrix quickly resolved this by simply changing
the name to PR. They then went on a rampage about other companies
free-loading off their advertising and demanded all badges be removed from PC cases, apart
from the Intel badge. They might have blown a fuse if it weren’t
for a savior in the form of Quake. The 6×86 was designed with business software
in mind as a baseline. Of course it was great at running games as
well, but this was primarily a 2D game world. Quake launching in June, would however, change
that. Whilst developing Quake, John Carmack realised
that FPU and integer operations used different parts of the Pentium core and could be effectively
overlapped. This nearly doubled the speed of FPU intensive
game code. However on Cyrix processors, the operations
didn’t overlap, effectively halving execution speed. This is why when I upgraded from a 5×86 to
6×86, pretty much exclusively to play games like Quake, I was yet again faced with a degree
of disappointment. Quake was evidently, extremely popular and
as more and more people used it in their performance tests, the lofty position held by the Cyrix
processors began to slip further and further. The public tended to simplify the problem,
and jumped the 6×86 for having poor Floating point performance. This is a claim Cyrix tried to rebuke through
a series of benchmarks on their website, somewhat at odds with magazine tests, although you’ll
notice that their 3D Descent test made use of an accelerator card, and obviously there’s
no Quake test to be found here. What I do find amusing is this little paragraph. “The 6×86 processor performs equal to the
comparable Pentium in some cases, while the Pentium performs better in others. However, in all cases, both the 6×86 and Pentium
processors achieve the smooth motion frame rate of greater than 13 frames/second” 13 frames per second! Can you image gamers today getting 13 frames
a second and being happy with it?? I hear people complain that games are barely
playable when frame rates drop under 60 today. With multimedia on the rise, Intel would launch
the Pentium MMX in October 96 and begin to thwart the short lived reign of Cyrix. It’s almost as if Jerry Rogers wanted to quit
whilst he was ahead, as on December 9th 1996, he stepped down from his role as President
and CEO, remaining on the board of directors. Co-founder, Tom Brightman would remain as
vice president. Jaw Swent, the Sr. Vice President of Finance
and Administration stepped up to chair in his place, and it’s probably no accident he
was the president of finance and administration, because despite their success, Cyrix had posted
a net loss of $6.9 million in the year ending September 30th. Strangely, they had been making profits of
$6 million a year earlier. This was attributed to increasing competition
and the need for substantial price cuts. But Cyrix were far from over at this point. Their 6×86 was still a strong contender, and
by the end of May 1997, their MMX rivaling product, the 6x86MX was unveiled. Remaining socket compatible with it’s predecessor
and claiming to deliver Pentium 2 performance at half the price, a new range of P6 processors,
Intel had only introduced a few weeks beforehand. They had also begun a 2 prong attack by launching
the new MediaGX processor in February, aiming to create a whole new budget PC market. Based around their existing 5×86 chips, these
new processors offered an all in one PC solution and was in fact one of the first PC’s on a
chip (well, there was also a Cx5510 companion chip to handle sound and some of the bus functions,
but almost). Integrating their XpressRAM, XpressGRAPHICS
and XpressAUDIO all within the same processing structure. At just $99 for the 133MHz flavour compared
to say $407 for a 166MHz Pentium MMX, without the additional components, this really did
open up a new landscape and is essentially the main harbinger for the true budget low
end PC market which Intel and AMD would need to catch up with. By now, Cyrix had no troubles getting OEM
manufacturers on board. Compaq were one of the first with their Presario
2100 storming in at under $1,000, which seemed to create all sorts of hype. Sure, it wasn’t going to knock the socks off
a P200 owner, but here was a kinda, almost Pentium with 24 megs of RAM, 2.1GB Hard Drive,
8X CD-ROM drive and soundblaster compatible sound for a reasonable price. I mean, you had to pay extra for the monitor
and savvy consumers could pick up a lesser known brand, with a better spec, for about
the same price, but with the Compaq badge, it caught the media attention, and that’s
exactly what Cyrix needed. It wasn’t long before other big name manufacturers
started shipping Cyrix processors in their machines, seemingly moving their brand image
up a notch. Steve Tobak, who was Vice president of marketing
for Cyrix at the time, has written about how he thought Tom was nuts for dreaming up the
sub $1000 PC concept, but after thinking about PC price elasticity, describes how a big light
bulb went on. It seems consumers were on the same train
of though.** After three consecutive quarters of losses,
Cyrix posted a profit for the first-quarter of 1997, but their previous posted revenues
of $183.8 million were still a tiny dent in the $15.4 billion worldwide processor market. Still seeking a CEO, and looking favourable,
Cyrix seemed ripe for a buy-out, and National Semi-Conductor seemed to agree. Aquiring Cyrix in November 1997 for a $550
million stock exchange, as an autonomous and wholly owned subsidiary. It was the MediaGX which had really roused
their interests, with Brian Halla, Semiconductor’s CEO stating “we intend for the Cyrix acquisition
to give us the building blocks to provide system-on-a-chip soltuions for sub $500 PCs
and a broad range of low-cost information appliances”. Seemingly advancing the 6x86MX design to keep
pace with Intel and AMD was not on their agenda, however Cyrix would later announce that it’s
merger would not change their development or marketing plans. This focus on the MediaGX did create sales,
but with less focus on staying with the competition, it wasn’t long before both Intel and AMD were
outpacing Cyrix once again. The new “Slot one” Pentium 2 had launched
in May 1997, leaving other manufacturers stuck in Socket 7 motherboards. Rival AMD followed up with their impressive
K6 processor range in April. Interestingly, the Pentium 2, and pro designs
actually created a legal dispute whereby, this time, Cyrix accused Intel of copying
their power management and register renaming methods for use in the Pentium 2 architecture,
but this was settled quite quickly after the National Semiconductor buyout, with a cross
licence agreement, allowing both parties to borrow each others patents. Although not stipulated, this suggests somewhat
that Cyrix had a good case for this, but was undoubtedly eased by National Semiconductor
already holding a licence for Intel’s chip designs. Unfortunately, the world began to look bleak
for Cyrix. Before 1997 was out, they had to issue a 10,000
chip recall on their 6x86MX P200 line due to high failure rates. This may have been partly to blame for the
delay on their Pentium 2 rival, the M2, released in early 1998. The chip may have held the number 2 in it’s
name, but really, it was just a re-badged 6x86MX available in some higher clocked iterations,
but all of which were really pushing their manufacture process at the time. The floating point and integer capabilities
were now drastically falling behind Intel’s and AMD’s new processors, and coupled with
this, Intel had released budget Celeron versions of their Pentium 2 processors in a bid to
reclaim the sub $1000 PC market, National Semiconductor were keen on seizing. By September 98, the AMD K6-2, with it’s superior
performance, accounted for a 68% of sub $1000 PCs; a reported cache bug in systems with
more than 32MB of RAM was no issue at this level, whilst Intel’s Celeron was level pegging
the MII at 16% each. Technology vs. cost was accelerating at such
a rate, that the MediaGX, even having reached a 266MHz MX iteration, was already becoming
obsolete, especially with whisperings of a 500MHz AMD K7 on the horizon. National Semiconductor would end their production
arrangement with IBM at the end of the year, having brought most production in house at
their new manufacturing facility in Maine and having already launched 300 and 333 iterations
of it’s M2 on a 0.25 micron process. Their next step was to try and rival their
competition with a 0.18 micron process the following year with the MII 433 (which ran
at 300MHz), and then release a range of new processors. Cyrix knew they were falling behind, acknowledging
poor performance under certain games with their MII, they seemed keen to retain their
budget market whilst also catching up with the pack leaders. Their Senior Vice President, Kevin McDonough
was quick to stave off fears by throwing a range of names about. In development were 2 cores, the Jalapeno
and the Cayenne. The Cayenne was designed for 3 variations,
the first code-named, Jedi was for Socket 7, labelled to be their next offering and
looking to incorporate the 3DNow! extensions along with better FPU performance. The second was Gobi, a socket 370 compatible
CPU that would push the technology further, and the third was the MXi, offering integrated
graphics and designed to replace the MediaGX. The Jalapeno core was their true next generation,
pegged for release in the Mojave processor after the end of the millennium, which I wanted
to say because it sounds epic. The Jalapeno would have a dual issue FPU,
an 11 stage pipeline and integrated 3D graphics that could store textures in it’s L2 cache,
and by the sound of things, really could have put Cyrix back among the pack leaders. In this late 1998 interview, McDonough seems
very upbeat at the company position, including putting their MediaGX to use into all sorts
of products, such as set top boxes and fridges. He even seemingly states that they could be
in a position to completely throw Intel off track, but thankfully weren’t looking to put
them out of business. However, this, through circumstance really
became a case of all mouth and no trousers, mainly because the trousers didn’t have any
money in their pockets. By 1999, AMD and Intel were leap-frogging
each other with clock speeds, and not only Cyrix, but National Semiconductor were finding
themselves in financial difficulty. Their intentions and plan seemed credible,
but unfortunately, they’d fallen too far behind. On June 30th 1999, Via Technologies would
acquire the Cyrix chip designing devision for the net sum of $167 million, followed
almost immediately by Centaur Technology from Integrated Device Technology for $51 million,
allowing Via to enter the x86 processor market. Via, like Cyrix started out, was a fabless
company, and so manufacture would continue at National Semiconductor’s plant in Maine. There are some stories from Cyrix employees
knocking around from this era, and it paints a rather interesting picture of events immediately
prior to acquisition; After talking to the engineers at their Richardson
base, VIA’s CEO, Chen Wen-Chi was a little surprised to hear some projects were behind
in their design schedules, somewhat at odds with McDonough’s interview the year prior,
so an agreement was made for National Semiconductor to lay off half of the Cyrix staff at their
cost. Via’s interest was really in the Cyrix brand
and their IP, which as we know, had a separate Genus to Intel’s processors, and could therefore
be used in defence against an Intel lawsuit aimed at Via’s current chipsets and any future
processors. Cyrix’s R&D costs were at that point, $10
million per month. The Mojave concept was very far off and so
was immediately dropped along with all other projects, apart from Gobi, which was almost
at the sampling phase. This was the point when Tom Brightman would
leave the company, and between a lot of good, experienced staff being let go, and others
simply being snapped up by competitors, Via was left with Cyrix’s back catalogue, their
brand, Intellectual property and the Gobi project & staff. The Gobi code-name was then renamed to Joshua,
keeping in line with Chen Wen-Chi’s, biblical naming preference. Joshua then, poised to become the Cyrix M3,
with its 7-stage Cayenne core was expected to top out at around 600MHz, but was consuming
some 25 watts. The Centaur Technology team Via had also snapped
up, had also been working on a WinChip core, which was by now known as Samuel. This core had 12 stages, allowing for more
effective overclocking, at only drew 6w at similar clock speeds. The decision was therefore taken by Via to
stop production of Joshua and go full speed ahead with Samuel. This is the processor that would ultimately
be branded the Via Cyrix III and launched in 2001. This was seen by many as a poor move, given
the potentially superior abilities of the Joshua chip, that were speculated to outperform
the AMD K7, but on a much smaller die. The C3 may have not been the most powerful
package available, but it did beat the competition in power consumption, and met the demands
of the embedded marketplace quite well, finding use in notebooks, with the later C7 revision
finding it’s way into the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC family. The last processor to retain the “C” part
of the Cyrix name, the Via C7-M released in 2007 as a mobile processor. But this really leaves the MII 433, in April
1999, the real last Cyrix processor. But that’s not the end of the story. Although VIA bought out most of Cyrix, National
Semiconductor actually held onto the MediaGX processor. It seems they really did want to hold onto
the chip that had forged their initial deal back in 1997. National Semiconductor renamed the MediaGX
to The Geode at the end of 1999 and sold them mainly for use in thin clients and industrial
control systems. These processors were developed further to
the Geode GX2 in 2002 before being bought up by AMD and sold until 2009 under various
guises and iterations. So, for those hoping to cling onto the Cyrix
dream; there very well might be a few strands of Cyrix left in AMD processors here and there,
but 2009 pretty much draws the end of the line for the work Cyrix began way back in
1987. The Cyrix story is one hell of a ride, but
I suppose their biggest accomplishment was laying the foundations for the budget PC market,
without really sacrificing performance, and they did it all without the funds other companies
held. Indeed, that alone is one of the reasons I
have so much passion for the Cyrix brand. Between 1995 and 1998, the Cyrix brand allowed
me to upgrade my PC to levels I simply wouldn’t have enjoyed without their presence in the
market, and sure, sometimes their CPUs didn’t live up to expectations, but for me, that
just made it all the more fun. Everyone loves an underdog, right? In a way, these processor rivalries of the
90s, felt very much like the Spectrum vs. Commodore, Amiga vs. ST and Sega vs. Nintendo
battles of years gone by. It didn’t really matter if your hardware was
technically inferior or not. It didn’t matter because it was yours, it
brought you joy, and for that reason it was worth defending to the very end. Things haven’t really changed today, have
they? I tell you what, as you’ve stayed till the
end, here’s a bit of Cyrix trivia for you; The film Eraser featured a defense corporation
known as “Cyrex”. Cyrix got a bit upset about the potential
name confusion, so asked for it to be changed. At a cost of some $10 million and over the
course of a week, the name was then retroactively edited to become “Cyrez”, both digitally,
and vocally, with some actors having to re-record their lines. You can see some remnants of this in this
scene, with the Computer code, clearly an abbreviation of Cyrex rather than Cyrez. Nice. Thanks for watching. Subscribe. Contribute, or watch something else. In any case, have a great evening!

Danny Hutson

100 thoughts on “What Happened to Cyrix Processors? | Nostalgia Nerd

  1. Damn, I forgot all about these guys. So many tried to get into the business and there was no way they all could survive.

  2. I use to own a small Compaq 386 desktop that had a cyrix snap on upgrade CPU (upgraded it from a 386 to a 486), while it did speed things up considerably, it also performed like crap in some games.

    Also owned a Packard bell that had a cyrix 120mhz CPU in it. It ran decently but every time I'd play road rash it would wipe the drive clean.

    I also own a wyse winterm 3360SE that has a Geode CPU in it.

  3. It could not run Crysis. So, they just went: "Nah, why even bother? Live, chip development and existence is meaningless."

  4. Correct pronunciation of Jalapeño here (ICNR, but IANS because, TBH, IDNET):


  5. I got into computers when the 486-33mhz's rolled out, so I remember Cyrix. Alternatively you had Intel and AMI, which I later on thought was AMD, but restructured. As far as I know, AMI made Amibios, which I believe is still used today, but it's been years since I saw an American Megatrends Intl processor or motherboard. It all went to Intel, or AMD (again, which I thought was AMI).
    Thanks for taking me down Memory Lane (not to be confused with simms, dimms, or…. oh bother, nevermind).

  6. Holy smokes. You unlocked a long forgotten section of my memory of those teenage days. While I didn't own a Cyrix processor myself, I think some friends did.

  7. i remembered the Citrix brand in ads back in the 90s. Brings back memories of the 90s. I was in High School when I got my first PC and it had a AMD CPU with a Rage 3D GPU on the motherboard. The internal GPU was not good just like today. I got a weird version of the 3DFX Voodo II GPU ( I still have the card, figured it would be a collectors item) that did not have it's own video output. It used the internal gpu to output to the monitor, it just did all the heavy graphics processing at least i think thats how it worked.). I would use that computer till sometime in 2002. Diablo II had a glide 3d renderer that added neat lighting effects that were lost forever in later Direct X renderers.

  8. My Dad bought me a computer with a Cyrix processor. It couldn't even play Mechwarrior 2, and this was after the release of Windows 95. The computer was promptly returned and exchanged for a computer with a Pentuim 2 with MMX technology (cause, you know… MDK).

  9. My second pc was one of those very Compaq Presario pcs with i think a cyrix MII which was in competition with the pentium 1. I spent much time optimizing windows 95 and stripping the install down to run as fast as possible.

  10. Golden words are said at the end of the video. I have the same feelings for Celeron's. Yes – they were cheap and "stupid" processors, but it was thanks to them that many people even had a personal computer at home. The games went slowly, but people still played and rejoiced.

    Thanks for the video, it was interesting!

  11. Very cool that they had those puns on competition, like when you showed your computer properties, the hardware summary said CyrixInstead, a funny joke on Intel's signature motto "Intel Inside".

  12. What happened to Cyrix processors is that they sucked. I built one system around a Cyrix processor, and that was enough. I've never seen such an unstable piece of crap. If it went fifteen minutes without crashing, that was cause for celebration. I replaced the Cyrix with an AMD (this was back in the days before proprietary sockets – all processors worked on the same boards) and never had another problem.

  13. Why did the brains behind the processors stop having ideas, if they ever did as I wouldn't have! they could compete with INTEL having trouble now! anyway as I remember, AMD were emulating INTEL successfully enough for INTEL to licence their processor tech to them, I always wondered why both companies didn't develop their own operating system that would take advantage of their processors. as it goes they handed everything over to INTEL eventually and now INTEL has run into a dead end now and have to try competing with ARM!

  14. Aww the days when motherboards had a separate slot for a math co-processor. I worked for a small shop that built PC's to order. I remember that the Cyrix chips were cheaper, but tended to not be as stable especially as windows became more standard.

  15. I used to have a Cyrix 133+/110MHz PC. My uncle used to say it was the same as an Intel Pentium 133 but as I learned more about computers and played games, this was far, far from the case. Overclocking it to 133MHz made a huge jump, but still fell a tad short comparing it to my friends Intel machines. From where I went to an AMD K6-2 450 which performed extremely well, especially adding in a Voodoo2 and later a Voodoo5 5500 video card, and eventually overclocked to 560Mhz with a big voltage bump with little extra cooling.

  16. When I built my pcs back then the only processor I used was a Cyrix, they lost me when the PR rating started. Then I went over to AMD.

  17. Got Cyrix P90 till now, after many OC, even more burned mainboards and scrubbing them to get cpu back it's alive and working. Wish today cpu's be so resistant.

  18. I had a Cyrix 486 Dx2 @80Mhz, for my first computer, I loved that chip. Had to change for a Intel at 100Mhz temporarily, util I got my AMD K6 233 Mhz.

  19. In 96 I had a p133+ which by the way was clocked at 120mhz and 166+ clocked I think at 150mhz. They worked ok with windows pc. Cheaper and that made them popular. Gaming killed them.

    Interesting to me that the gaming industry drove all of this advancement and still does as proven by the long list of 1000 dollar plus graphics cards now available.

    Man the via stuff was crap though. In my first i.t. job we spent a year ripping out anything in the building with via chipsets in them and using them for dartboards.
    Computer hardware was way more fun back then. We were always ripping stuff apart and building new franken-pcs out of it. Nowadays most office equipment is leased and in sealed cases. I.t. dept dont even take em apart anymore, just straight up simple swap out the unit. No fun.

  20. My first PC had cyrix 686 @166 Mhz, 16 MB RAM, S3 virge 1 MB video, 1,7 GB seagate hdd. All the games for ms dos ran flawlessly, including Quake 1. I've been using it just fine for 18 months, before upgrading to a k6 2 350, voodoo banshee 16 MB video and 32 MB RAM.

  21. I seem to recall Cyrix pentium class CPUs having great integer performance and lackluster floating point performance. They also generated quite a bit of heat, probably due to manufacturing process. I think AMD and Intel just had more competitive products for mainstream use and Cyrix went to the wayside. I have to say, though, the mini ITX and other miniature platforms with VIA branded chips were actually kinda neat at the time.

  22. I remember reading about the Cyrix Jalapeno back around 2001 and really hoping for a new challenger in the Intel/AMD race. I also had a lot of hope for the VIA Nano about 10 years ago when it was trying to compete with the Intel Atom. I just have a thing for underdogs I guess.

  23. well, I'd tell what happened with mine, 166mhz. I overclocked it to 200mhz without any cooling, off she went. bang boom magic smoke!

  24. OH man, I remember the days of the "Is the Sub-$1000 PC Upon Us?" articles. We were such summer children in those days.

  25. Still have a computer that came from SoftWarehouse (remember them?) that started out as a 386DX. I sprung the 200 bucks for a Cyrix 486 conversion chip with coprocessor. There was an unpopulated socket on the motherboard for the coprocessor. I was impressed by the difference in speed. Played the hell out of Doom and Descent on it until I moved up to a Pentium 3 machine. It was a 700 that overclocked to 900 quite happily, but the monster heat sink with 2 fans sounded like a 747 taking off.

  26. Gosh, those were the days. Most of the systems that I had assembled back in the mid-1990s were Cyrix-based systems. I miss those good old days. <sigh>

    Come to think of it, I miss CompUSA and the LDI Computer Superstore, both of which had stores in my area. Also, I miss the old computer hardware shows that most metropolitan areas had every month or so.

  27. I sold and built pcs during this period. I had forgotten a lot of this but really enjoyed your video and a lot of the comments from people who worked during this time.

  28. Damn, my Core i7-8700K cost LESS than the Cyrix 586…! And I was one of Cyrix's customers, or at least a potential customer, when I was ready to upgrade my ZEOS 486 PC that I'd bought in '92.

  29. Cyrix was a piece of crap. Centreon wasn't much better. Crashing BSODs were one thing, but cyrix would corrupt your data. Spreadsheets were misreporting information. Thank God we found this out while in college. And didn't get fired by an employer for recommending bad CPUs.

  30. What Happened to Cyrix Processors? < Cyrix Like AMD is the same story , on paper those CPU are better than intel for a lowest price. I perfectly remember the article on the newspapper "PC Team", saying that an AMD K6-2 300 MHZ, was equal to a Pentium 2 – 300Mhz for word style app, and equal to a pentium 2 – 400Mhz for games. So i took one.

    In fact i was never able to reach the 3*100Mhz …. (the it shop i got my cpu, telling that this is normal, cause i don't put correctly my cpu in his socket ….. never laugh so much).

    At the end my old pentium 200MMX overclocked at 288,75Mhz with an hidden frequency on my motherboard (3.5 * 82.5Mhz), work far better than this k6-2.

    Since that day i buy only intel and nvidia product !! For me all those are "killed" by the false advertising, it's like going to a restaurant and had a bed meal, you'll never go back in those restaurant !

  31. A Cyrex CPU was featured in an episode of The Lone Gunman… or was it X-Files… can't remember, but yeah they steal a "new high end cpu" and it's totally a Cyrex.

  32. This is the kind of thing I like… Such thing of the Past that I've never heard… And never had… Great Content… =)

  33. I was there in the 90s, great times. Used to work as supervisor on a ISP with a Fiber cable to the world and ran Quake Team Fortress and DM server and also Ages of Empire servers running on Quad processed Compaq Pentium Pros. It was a dream. At home, we used to ran from Cyrix like hell. Buggy processors and always seemed to us nerds at the time like cheap copies of Intel. By that time I was rocking on my 486 DX4 pro or something similar, getting ready to install Windows 95. What times were those! Missed it.

  34. Yet again another friggin introspective full of – – I don't know what ur talking about techno babble, jargon blurb and ramble.
    Again this is why I try not to stray too far from techmoan who does this but in, er.. English…. Tsssk

  35. Unfortunately as history shows, it turned out that it was all about the Pentiums. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpMvS1Q1sos

  36. Branch prediction was a key feature in the Pentiums – And in 2018, discovered to be a key feature for the Spectre security vulnerability.

  37. me….my early learning about computer starts with amd duron processor.. came out ….and also at that time…there are many2 rumors also from computer ricer said that AMD processor not stable.. always overheating… bla bla bla.. what an old memory…..just change a bigger heatsink and large cpu fan takeout from the stock athlon heatsink/fan( stock duron heatsink and fan are really small) … overclock it…. no overheating.. stable… can match with pentium 4 (socket 423 with RD ram)

  38. My first 'windows' PC had a Cyrx DX2 66mhz processor. I think it was an AST Advantage ADventure 6066d all-in-one PC. It was supposed to come with the first release of Windows 95 but there was a delay in availability of Win 95 so it had Windows 3.11 or some other version and I had to wait for my 'free' upgrade which came on a pile of floppy disks.

  39. "if you say cyrix "
    "You mean the CPU manufacturer?"
    "You might think of the wow character"
    "No I'm thinking of the CPU maker"
    "Or you might think of citrix"
    "No I'm thinking of the CPU"

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