The Upstart Chip Designer That's Chipping Away At Intel

On a frigid night last January came the moment of truth for Cyrix Corp. Late on Friday the 24th, the startup received the first preproduction model of its new brain for IBM-compatible personal computers--a microprocessor it hoped would break Intel Corp.'s lock on the high end of that business. At 2:20 a.m., as most of the 17 engineers who had labored more than a year on the chip looked on, the verdict came in. A PC using the Cyrix chip had no trouble with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows, a complex program that should have crashed if the chip had serious flaws. The group erupted with cheers. "To do a microprocessor in a short time and have it functional on the first pass--you can't ask for anything more exciting," says Senior Engineer Mark W. Bluhm.

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