Rumors Of The R4000 Chip's Demise Appear To Be Premature

When key members of the an industry group called the Advanced Computing Environment (ACE), seeking to come up with an alternative to IBM-compatible PCs, dropped plans to standardize around the R4000 microprocessor, the future of the chip seemed bleak. True, the R4000, made by the MIPS division of Silicon Graphics Inc., would still be used in small-volume engineering workstations, such as those made by Germany's Siemens. But the R4000's chance at a broad market dimmed with the loss of such key PC backers as Compaq Computer Corp.

Now, the R4000 may get a new lease on life. Japanese PC maker NEC Corp. plans to unveil its reduced instruction-set computing (RISC) PC, the first in a series of advanced personal computers combining the MIPS RISC chip with Microsoft Corp.'s new Windows NT operating software. NEC also plans a portable computer based on the chip. Expected out in July, the RISC PCs follow similar machines from Taiwan's Acer Inc., which recently announced the first R4000-based PCs able to run PC DOS-based software.

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