Protac International Computers is now a distributor of the new Via Cyrix III CPU in Australia, shipping 550 and 600MHz versions of the chips.
The new Cyrix III processors feature Dynamic Power Caching Architecture, developed at Via's Centaur Technology lab in Texas.
The new chip does not require a cooling fan, only a heatsink and its lower power consumption, less than 10 per cent, makes it ideal for the portable market.
But where the Cyrix III will really find its feet is in the notebook market, according to Protac managing director Gary Jeng.
"Because the price of notebook panels is dropping, the total cost is also dropping and volumes are increasing. Growth in the notebook market will increase significantly in the next six months. It will be much bigger than desktops," he said.
"A Pentium III or a Duron or Thunderbird is too hot for notebooks," Jeng explained. "Vendors have [therefore] been looking at Transmeta chips, but the performance is not as good."
Competing with the Celeron and Duron offerings, the processor achieves speeds of up to 667MHz. Via Technologies is expected to announce an 800MHz chip in January, codenamed the Samuel 2.
Jeng expects pricing for the new chip to drop by January when the company ships the 667MHz processors. At the moment, dealer prices on the chips range from $90 for the 550MHz chip to $120 for 600MHz.
"By January, the 600 will drop to the 550 price and that price will be taken over by the 667MHz offering," he said. "It is really good for the desktop market because it means CPUs will be around 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than the Celeron."
Protac predicts the processor will be popular for use in home machines and companies that are a little more progressive in their product choices. The chips will find their market in entry-level offerings and while the Australian market has yet to embrace the Via Technologies' chip this will soon change, Jeng said.
"We haven't seen anyone going for volume with the Cyrix - yet."
Protac will use the chips in its own foray into the notebook market. The company is set to manufacture its own product from its plant in the Sydney suburb of Silverwater.
"It is the first time we have done notebooks. We are currently aimed for all segments of the PC market and are pretty happy with the quality, price and performance of the Cyrix III. You don't need a 1GHz machine for the office."
Protac has been dealing with Via since September when the company settled its marketing plan and sales strategy, but relations between the companies began in October last year when the company, previously known for its chipsets rather than CPUs, acquired chipmaker Cyrix.