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WinChip C6

This Article was last modified in December, 1997.

The IDT WinChip C6 is the first microprocessor from Centaur Technology Inc., a subsidiary of Integrated Device Technology, Inc. (IDT). Using a unique design approach, the IDT WinChip C6 delivers competitive performance, lower cost and lower power dissipation than offerings from other x86 microprocessor suppliers. The WinChip C6 is a single-issue, non-superscalar design like the 486. But by using a Pentium bus, a large on-chip cache, and a refined pipe design, it can achieve Pentium-level performance. Like the K6 and 6x86MX, it has 64K of on-chip cache, it is Pentium-Pin compatible, and it implements the MMX extenstions. Its die size (88 square millimeters) is considerably smaller than that of its competitors, reducing manufacturing costs, and IDT plans to price it aggressively. It is currently available in clock speeds of 150-200 mhz. One advantage to IDT's streamlined design is its low power consumption; IDT hopes to find a market in portable systems, as well as in desktops. Unlike Cyrix or AMD, IDT is not out to capture 10 percent or more of the market - it will be quite happy with just a few percent.

IDT was not making any secret of the fact that the floating point as well as the MMX unit of the C6 will not be as fast as in the Intel Pentium MMX. The C6 is targeted to the lower end market, similar to the lower clocked versions of the AMD K6 and the IBM/Cyrix 6x86MX CPUs. The special trick of IDT is supposed to be the fact that the chip is fairly small as well as requiring only little power and IDT is therefore pretty confident of raising the clock speed to up to 400 MHz soon as well as using the C6 in notebooks where low power consumption is crucial.

The architecture of the C6 is much less sophisticated than the architecture of its competitors AMD K6 and IBM/Cyrix 6x86MX. No 'register renaming' or 'out of order execution' is used here for reaching Pentium MMX performance but simply a large L1 cache in cooperation with a pretty classic but straight forward microprocessor design.

IDT WinChip C6 power dissipation is much lower than other Pentium-class processors with MMX Technology, making it suitable for mobile systems and the rapidly growing sub-$1,000 PC product category. It is important to note that the IDT WinChip C6 power dissipation advantage is achieved while operating at 3.3 or 3.52 volts where other microprocessors require dual voltage operation. Thus, the IDT WinChip C6 is expected to offer even lower power dissipation in the future with dual voltage support.

The IDT WinChip C6 is a plug compatible processor to the Pentium with MMX Technology and is offered in a 296-pin grid array, Socket 7 compliant ceramic package (CPGA).

At only 88mm 2 in size, the IDT WinChip C6 processor is between 30 and 60 percent smaller than comparable Pentium-class processors with MMX Technology. The combination of small die size coupled with a simplified CMOS process allows IDT to manufacture the WinChip C6 very efficiently and at a low cost.


Superior Price versus Pentium, AMD-K6, and Cyrix 6x86MX processors.

Lowest Power Dissipation. Better than Pentium, AMD-K6 and Cyrix 6x86MX.

Compatible with the Socket 7 infrastructure: motherboards, chip sets, and BIOS.

Higher margin for resellers.

Allows added features such as more memory, larger hard disk, better graphics, faster modem, etc.

Or, a lower system price for end customer.

Simpler mobile system design (lower cost system).

Suitable for small form factor desktop and mobile systems.

Leverages established industry infrastructure.

Lower cost systems with competitive performance.

CPU-Central Scoring

Overclockability 85%
3D Performance 60%
Overall Performance 60%
Upgradability 80%
Compatibility 80%
Price 95%

Overclockability: Although I haven't heard much about people overclocking these chips, theoretically, since these chips use such a low voltage, and run very cool, they should be very overclockable.

3D Performance: As I have described earlier, the FPU performance of the WinChip is very weak, moreso than that of a Pentium MMX, K5, or even 6x86, which leads to low performance in FPU intense applications, such as Quake.

Overall Performance: The WinChip performs adequately in most business applications, however, performance in multimedia applications is quite poor.

Upgradability: These CPU's are just as upgradable as any other Socket7 processor. However, newer CPU's that require split voltages may need a newer motherboard than the one's that are used with WinChip's.

Compatibility: I have not yet heard of any software incompatibilities regarding the IDT WinChip C6.

Price: The WinChip CPU's currently cost almost nothing compared to their competitors. If you need a computer for Internet access, or some other simple tasks, and are not a hardcore gamer, this could be the chip for you.


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