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VIA C3 1GHz Processor Review

By: Cameron Johnson | VIA CPUs in CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: Jun 18, 2002 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 8.0%Manufacturer: VIA Technologies Taiwan

Introduction and History - Part 2


Around the same time as the Media Gxi was released, Cyrix needed to introduce a new processor into the market to counteract Intel's new Pentium with MMX technology which had come out and taken the crown away from Cyrix for having the fastest CPU. Cyrix took their existing Cyrix 6x86 CPU and increased the L1 cache from 16KB to 64KB, giving it the largest L1 cache of any CPU on the market. Along with the extra L1 cache, Cyrix added MMX technology to the CPU to increase the CPUs potential and renamed it as the 6x86MX. The 6x86MX came in speeds of 133MHz up to 233MHz (PR166 to PR266). The PR266 CPU was the first CPU to utilize the 83MHz FSB, which created more problems for Cyrix due to PCI and AGP compatibility problems with the two busses running well out of spec. Even with these new specifications, the 6x86MX could not compete with the Intel Pentium MMX and Pentium 2 CPUs from Intel, nor could it outperform AMD's K6 and K6-2 line of CPU.


In April 1998, Cyrix took its 6x86MX CPU and changed its FSB options over to 66MHz and 100MHz, which reduced the compatibility problems with most PCI and AGP expansion cards. The die size also shrunk form 0.35 micron to 0.25 micron but this was to be the last CPU the Cyrix company would actually produce as one company.


Later in 1998, rumors were spreading that through a cross-licensing agreement with National Semiconductor, Cyrix would be releasing a new CPU based on the P6 bus in the Slot 1 format. These rumors appeared to be true until late in 1998 when the Taiwanese chipset manufacturer known as VIA purchased the Cyrix company from National Semiconductor. The plans for the Slot 1 processor fell through and VIA staff took over as head of the Cyrix name.


It took a while for VIA to actually get the production of CPUs out, but it finally did happen with the first of a new line of processor known as the VIA Cyrix 3. The first of the VIA Cyrix 3 family was code-named Joshua and the same engineers who worked on the original Cyrix CPUs built this new chip. The Joshua CPU was the first processor from VIA and Cyrix to be based on the Socket 370 PPGA format. When released to hardware review sites to test, the Joshua core performed very poorly and even failed some tests. VIA took the Joshua core and totally scrapped it.


In 1999, VIA acquired Centaur, the makers of the Winchip CPU line. When the Centaur designers began, they took the Winchip 3 processor and changed it around to work on the Socket 370 platform and reduced the die size to 0.18 micron; this new core was code-named Samuel. The Samuel, like the Joshua, didn't include any L2 cache, which again hampered the performance of the CPU. After the Samuel core performed well below any standards that would be accepted, even for value processor, VIA took the Samuel core and added 64KB L2 cache, this greatly increased the performance of the CPU and shrank the die again to 0.15 micron making it the worlds first 0.15 micron CPU. This gave birth to the VIA C3 based on the Samuel2 core.


VIA's recent improvements into the 0.13 micron die led to the release of the Ezra core. This was used for 866MHz, 900MHz, 966MHz core CPUs. Now with higher speeds and Tualatin motherboard support, VIA has released a new addition to the C3 family; the Ezra T. This new processor debuts at 1GHz. Let's see how well it fares.


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