NEC sees new era in PC architectures

NEC sees new era in PC architectures
David Manners in Tokyo NEC, the world’s second largest semiconductor company, sees an opportunity to establish another microprocessor architecture in the PC market. “The WinTel world used to be untouchable but now a new era is coming,” Dr Hajime Sasaki told Electronics Weekly in Tokyo. Dr Sasaki, currently senior executive v-p in charge of NEC’s semiconductor division, will take over as chairman of NEC Corporation on March 26. “The opportunity for change is Linux,” said Sasaki. If the Linux operating system becomes mainstream “then the basis for competition in the microprocessor market becomes cost/performance not architecture,” he added. Asked if NEC would take advantage of the opportunity by seeking to establish its own proprietary microprocessor architecture Sasaki replied: “That would be difficult, but we have a strong background in the MIPS architecture.” Sasaki does not rule out NEC developing its own microprocessor, he merely says that MIPS would be the “first priority” if the opportunity arose. Whether or not the opportunity is there “depends on the applications software”, said Sasaki. If this becomes available then PC makers may support Linux just as IBM and HP have supported Linux in servers. “It all depends on our customers’ decision,” said Sasaki, “up to now we have had no way to tell. But now we have a chance.” Sasaki is close to the top tier PC makers because he has contracts with them all for the supply of advanced DRAMs.


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