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Thread: Worst x86 CPUs over the years

  1. #21

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    Rambus, there is name I am sure Intel would rather forget. The recall and replacement of over 1 million i820 motherboards and having to buy out of their deal with them was not how Intel wanted things to go to say the least.

  2. #22
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    I've got a few HP (Neoware) thin clients that are useful for minor things. I ran a C7-equipped CA21 for years as an email server under Linux; I use a CA19 C3-equipped one to drive an EPROM programmer and I've got a CA10 (C3) for some unknown reason, plus a few extra units. The idea was to replace a couple of desktop PCs for low-demand use (I used one with an old modem to screen junk calls when I had a landline).

    The Linux mailserver has been long replaced by an Orange Pi PC running at a fraction of the power.

    At some point, Linux dropped support for the VIA 8237 southbridge and that was that. I think that OpenBSD still has the VIA drivers, but they're going to a 64-bit platform exclusively, so that's history. The C10's kind of interesting in that it has an internal PCI slot.

    For something with integrated peripherals, it wasn't a bad choice back in the day. Now, of course, they mostly collect dust...

  3. #23
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    Hmm, got a FIC VA-503+ board here that still runs. I wonder how modern it might go? It last ran Red Hat Linux 5.2, and did so for right at 20 years, only being shut down in mid 2018. I don't think I have any surviving KT400 or KT600 boards, though I might. Hmm, where did I put that Barton 3200.....?
    --
    Thus spake Tandy Xenix System III version 3.2: "Bughlt: Sckmud Shut her down Scotty, she's sucking mud again!"

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasa1063 View Post
    The processors that followed were based on Cyrix designs.
    That's actually not correct. VIA bought two fabless processor companies around the same time, Cyrix and a lesser known company called Centaur hauls. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centaur_Technology

    VIA never used any Cyrix cores in subsequent VIA branded processors, they just chose to use the Cyrix name because it had more brand recognition. VIA used Centaurs' core over Cyrix because it was a much smaller and simpler design to produce for their intended low budget market segment and embedded use.

    The Centaur hauls core was far weaker than the last Cyrix MII core, and had to be clocked far higher to maintain "adequate" performance. This was shown with the VIA C3 series, they were dogs when it came to performance, and fortunately VIA lost the license from Intel to use the PGA370 socket so the C3 wasn't around very long. Unfortunately, it morphed into the later C7 (which was essentially the same core) and continued on.

    The Cyrix legacy did live on in a convoluted way through the Geode CPU line for a number of years. It was based on the Cyrix MediaGX, which was a Cx5x86 core that was a stripped down Cx6x86. National Semiconductor manufactured it until they sold it to AMD, who kept the line going for a few more years until they silently switched it to the Athlon XP architecture.

    I had one of those failed "AMD 50x15 initiative" PCs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person...t_Communicator) that had an AMD Geode @ 400 MHz. Once you hacked the machine to have a normal BIOS on it, you could install other operating systems besides crappy Windows CE. It was actually a very respectable performer even at 400 MHz, owing to the Cyrix design. You could overclock the unit, and I was able to get mine to run at 466 MHz with the addition of a heatsink. It played Quake remarkably well and ran Windows XP fine. The only thing that really held it back was the USB 1.1 ports and limited RAM expansion.

  5. #25

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    I always thought the VIA used Cyrix designs for their subsequent CPUs, thanks for the clarification and I stand corrected.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiGaBiTe View Post
    VIA never used any Cyrix cores in subsequent VIA branded processors, they just chose to use the Cyrix name because it had more brand recognition. VIA used Centaurs' core over Cyrix because it was a much smaller and simpler design to produce for their intended low budget market segment and embedded use.
    Hence my snark of "no guts in here" referring to the VIA CPUs. All my thin clients use the BGA versions, so there's no swapping.

    We do less, but we do it faster.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasa1063 View Post
    Rambus, there is name I am sure Intel would rather forget. The recall and replacement of over 1 million i820 motherboards and having to buy out of their deal with them was not how Intel wanted things to go to say the least.
    I've got an 820 system with 1GB of RAM. What impresses me is how hot the bloody things run.

  8. #28
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    We have a Dell Precision 530MT with the special riser boards giving 2GB (8 RIMMs), and yes that thing was like a furnace. Almost as hot as the 690 with the RAM risers, the 1KW power supply required for the risers, and dual 3.73GHz Dempsey core Xeons. It finally died last month. It could heat a small room, partially thanks to the 16GB of FB-DIMM RAM, 16 1GB sticks of it. At least the FB-DIMMs didn't need those continuity dummy cards like the RIMMs do.
    --
    Thus spake Tandy Xenix System III version 3.2: "Bughlt: Sckmud Shut her down Scotty, she's sucking mud again!"

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiGaBiTe View Post
    Intel actually designed three Pentium 4 families for mobile use. The first was the Pentium 4-M, the next was the Mobile Pentium 4 and the last was the Mobile Pentium 4-HT. The Pentium 4-M was actually not a bad line of CPUs, based on the Northwood core, they ranged from 25-35W and from 1.4-2.6 GHz. The latter two Mobile Pentium 4 and HT lines were awful though, also based on Northwood and later Prescott, they had high TDPs from 60-88W. While the latter two had high TDPs, they also had something their desktop counterparts didn't, IST and later TM2 which allowed the core to clock ramp and reduce power consumption when demand was low.

    The FPU performance was bad because Cyrix made the fatal design decision to put most of the transistor budget towards the integer core. The FPU was almost unchanged from the Cx486. The Cyrix parts with weird bus speeds like 75 and 83 MHz did have severe stability problems, mostly owing to the fact that everything else at the time was not designed to run at those speeds. Cyrix parts which ran at 66, 90 and 100 MHz bus speeds were a lot more stable and the later MII parts had much lower power consumption, making them very stable, just slow because of the anemic FPU.

    They were really good in office machines because their integer core was more efficient than Intel parts. Games, not so much. Though there were a few games that had weird integer based 3D engines and those did run a lot faster on a Cyrix part.
    Had no idea Intel made a line of Pentium 4's specifically designed for mobile use. Thanks for the info!

    As for the Cyrix processors, that totally makes sense. Kinda reminds me of the time Commodore didn't bother to fix a bug with the 1541's shift register, and that's why their disk drives are so slow.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    I've got a few HP (Neoware) thin clients that are useful for minor things.
    bought a big box of those some years back. Used them for BSD-based routers/firewalls (some still in use) and embedded OS/2 systems (doing mostly Proprinter -> PDF conversion for old DOS and S/36 systems).

    Still use one myself for running OrCAD and Layo1 (PCB CAD) on FreeDOS. The ISA/PCI slot is very handy

    No complaints about the VIA CPUs here. They may not be super fast, but they don't run too hot...

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