IDT Winchip 2-3D

by Anand Lal Shimpi on January 16, 1999 12:31 AM EST
Have you ever wondered what life must have been like without the ability to walk into your kitchen and flip a switch to turn on a light? Times change so quickly in this world, that it seems like an eternity separates us between the present day and the 24 hours we just left behind as yesterday. This was the case in 1997 when seemingly out of nowhere, a company called IDT released their low-cost desktop microprocessor, officially named the C6. Instead of claiming to be another PR-overrated competitor to the Pentium MMX, IDT positioned the C6 as a true upgrade for those users left in the dark with older motherboards that went unsupported by the latest offerings from AMD, Cyrix and Intel, the big three at the time. winchipsm.jpg (6371 bytes)
Unfortunately, poor marketing, initially high costs, and a horribly slow FPU prevented the C6 from reaching its maximum potential. While the C6 was claiming to be a low-cost CPU, an equivalently priced Cyrix or AMD processor was claiming that as well as noticeable higher performance. If anything, this was a call to action for IDT, and back in the game once again, IDT is ready to take another shot at the market, with the rightfully titled Winchip 2-3D. Take the original C6, improve the core of the processor, license AMD's 3DNow! technology, and maintain the same policy of 100% compatibility and you have what IDT hopes to be, the ideal upgrade for older Socket-7 users.

Why Manufacturers Lie About Backwards Compatibility

If you're anything like the thousands of others out there that crave performance the minute it hits the streets, you know what it feels like to shell out thousands of dollars into a top of the line Pentium II system based on a 440FX motherboard only to be told that your motherboard won't support the newest processors and graphics accelerators just 6 months later. It's definitely unfortunate, but it is reality, that the computer world moves at a pace unmatched by any other market on the face of the earth.

The one thing that annoys users the most is that when they do happen to shell out these thousands of dollars for a complete system overhaul, they are never told that they may be stuck with an obsolete hunk of silicon in a couple of months. Why don't manufacturers just stick to one simple design and allow for complete backwards compatibility? To put it plainly and simply, the technology changes too quickly to allow for a product to be completely compatible with everything that was released prior to its introduction. If a manufacturer even attempted to do so, we'd be stuck with bulky motherboards, featuring 4 PCI, 3 ISA, and 2 VLB slots with 8 - 30 pin SIMM slots, 4 - 72 pin slots, and a couple DIMM slots to please everyone. Somewhere along the line, manufacturers realized that if they made a change to something that was apparently "better" the market would be forced to follow, regardless of the upgrade costs, thus the "obsolete" PC was created.

Remember the release of the Pentium MMX? The chip required a unique new core voltage of 2.8v to run properly, this was an incredible change from the 3.3/3.52v setting which was standard on most Socket-7 motherboards at the time. If you happened to be one of the unlucky souls that purchased an older Socket-7 motherboard that absolutely didn't support any voltages outside of that 3.3/3.52v range then you were out of luck and your performance pretty much topped out with the Pentium classic processors. Unless

IDT's Chance

Assuming that there is a group of users out there that have these older Socket-7 motherboards, with the desire to run Windows 98, surf the net, and run their now sluggish applications at these incredible speeds they are hearing about from K6-2 and Pentium II users alike, if you could introduce a processor that would make use of that 3.3/3.52v voltage range those boards use you'd be able to please a large number of users that were left without any upgrade path. This was IDT's chance, and it was as good as any of a marketing decision to tailor to these users, instead of competing with AMD and Intel for control of leading the market (an often difficult and fund consuming task, it's always easier to follow the pack than to lead it) IDT made it their goal to make the best low-cost processor, and that they have definitely done.

The Winchip 2
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  • Rene23 - Friday, March 16, 2018 - link

    while I did not over clock my IDT WinChip2 that I used for compiling a Linux distribution in 1999/2000 - in fact I may have run mine at 3x75=225 MHz instead of the 4x60MHz for some reason (maybe PCI bus speed) I took it out of the attic in 2018 and I could over clock mine to 250 and 266 MHz:

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