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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | The Processor | Processor Families | Fourth Generation Processors ]

Cyrix 5x86 ("M1sc")

Despite having the same name as AMD's 5x86 processor, the Cyrix 5x86 is a totally different animal. While AMD designed its 5x86 by further increasing the clock on the 486DX4, Cyrix took the opposite approach by modifying its M1 processor core (used for the 6x86 processor) to make a "lite" version to work on 486 motherboards. As such, the Cyrix 5x86 in some ways resembles a Pentium OverDrive (which is a Pentium core modified to work in a 486 motherboard) internally more than it resembles the AMD 5x86. This chip is probably the hardest to classify as either fourth or fifth generation.

The 5x86 employs several architectural features that are normally found only in fifth-generation designs. The pipeline is extended to six stages, and the internal architecture is 64 bits wide. It has a larger (16 KB) primary cache than the 486DX4 chip. It uses branch prediction to improve performance.

The 5x86 was available in two speeds, 100 and 120 MHz. The 5x86-120 is the most powerful chip that will run in a 486 motherboard--it offers performance comparable to a Pentium 90 or 100. The 5x86 is still a clock-tripled design, so it runs in 33 and 40 MHz motherboards. (The 100 MHz version will actually run at 50x2 as well, but normally was run at 33 MHz.) It is a 3 volt design and is intended for a Socket 3 motherboard. It will run in an earlier 486 socket if a voltage regulator is used. I have heard that some motherboards will not run this chip properly so you may need to check with Cyrix if trying to use this chip in an older board. These chips have been discontinued by Cyrix but are still good performers, and for those with a compatible motherboard, as good as you can get. Unfortunately, they are extremely difficult to find now.

Look here for an explanation of the categories in the processor summary table below, including links to more detailed explanations.

General Information

Manufacturer

Cyrix

Family Name

5x86

Code name

"M1sc"

Processor Generation

Fourth

Motherboard Generation

Fourth

Version

5x86-100

5x86-120

Introduced

1996?

Variants and Licensed Equivalents

--

Speed Specifications

Memory Bus Speed (MHz)

33 / 50

40

Processor Clock Multiplier

3.0 / 2.0

3.0

Processor Speed (MHz)

100

120

"P" Rating

P75

P90

Benchmarks

iCOMP Rating

~610

~735

iCOMP 2.0 Rating

~67

~81

Norton SI

264

316

Norton SI32

~16

19

CPUmark32

~150

~180

Physical Characteristics

Process Technology

CMOS

Circuit Size (microns)

0.65

Die Size (mm^2)

144

Transistors (millions)

2.0

Voltage, Power and Cooling

External or I/O Voltage (V)

3.45

Internal or Core Voltage (V)

3.45

Power Management

SMM

Cooling Requirements

Active heat sink

Packaging

Packaging Style

168-Pin PGA

Motherboard Interface

Socket 3; or 168-Pin Socket, Socket 1, Socket 2 (with voltage regulator)

External Architecture

Data Bus Width (bits)

32

Maximum Data Bus Bandwidth (Mbytes/sec)

127.2

152.6

Address Bus Width (bits)

32

Maximum Addressable Memory

4 GB

Level 2 Cache Type

Motherboard

Level 2 Cache Size

Usually 256 KB

Level 2 Cache Bus Speed

Same as Memory Bus

Multiprocessing

No

Internal Architecture

Instruction Set

x86

MMX Support

No

Processor Modes

Real, Protected, Virtual Real

x86 Execution Method

Native

Internal Components

Register Size (bits)

32

Pipeline Depth (stages)

6

Level 1 Cache Size

16 KB Unified

Level 1 Cache Mapping

4-Way Set Associative

Level 1 Cache Write Policy

Write-Through, Write-Back

Integer Units

1

Floating Point Unit / Math Coprocessor

Integrated

Instruction Decoders

1

Branch Prediction Buffer Size / Accuracy

!? entries / !? %

Write Buffers

!?

Performance Enhancing Features

--

Next: Fifth Generation Processors


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