On the 13 October 1998, Rise Technology Company unveiled the mP6
family of microprocessors at the Microprocessor Forum. Rise Technology
Company was an until then unknown fabless x86 CPU designer which was founded
in 1993. Although the Rise Technology Company headquarters is located
in Santa Clara California, they were finacially supported by some 15 investors
from Taiwan. Among those investors are companies like Acer and Umax.
The x86 microprocessor market has always been tough to enter and
hard to succeed in. But at the time only Intel and AMD supplied the market.
Cyrix was virtually out of the business and IDT in serious financial trouble
and looking openly for partners. So the third supplier space was vacant
and with a little luck Rise could succeed in the x86 business.
The mP6 is a 5th generation CPU, it has a superscaler design which
is tailored to multimedia applications and low power consumption. It was
targeted at the notebook and sub $1000 PC market. Low power consumption
and well balanced price - performance ratio were main topics at the introduction.
Technical strong points of the mP6 are the ability to handle three
MMX instructions per clock cycle and a super pipelined FPU unit. With
the introduction Rise emphasist the low power consumption of the mP6,
the power management is built into the core. When parts of the CPU are
not needed these are automatically shut down to save energy. Typical powerconsumption
for the 200MHz (PR266) version is little over 6 Watts.
Designed for the Super Socket 7 it is able to utilize a 100 MHz Front
Side Bus. In order to save on manufacturing costs the die size is only
107 mm2 and manufactured at 0.25 micron. The mP6 was only manufactured
in BGA packaging and Turbo Thermal BGA (T2BGA), for use in a socket the
BGA package was installed on a small PCB with a Socket 7 pinout (BPGA).
Core voltage is 2.8v and 3.3v for the I/O.
Rise always stressed that the mP6 had a "well balanced price
- performance ratio", but what was the realworld performance? When
compared to the AMD K6-2 and the IDT Winchip 2 the Rise mP6 performed
slowest of the three at the same PR speed. While it should have been at
least as fast or faster than the other CPU's looking at the specifications.
What then slowed the mP6 down? The cause of the low performance can be
found in the small size of the L1 cache of only 16 KB. The K6-2 and the
Winchip2 both have 64KB to feed data to the core.
At the introduction of the mP6, Rise already talked about the
mP6 II. This would be a mP6 with 256KB L2 Cache with speeds ranging from
333MHz up to 433MHz. Samples of this CPU would be available at the end
of 1998 with full production reached for the summer of 1999. There were
also rumours that the mP6 II would have a Slot 1 interface.
On the Microprocessor Forum of 1999 Rise would introduce the Rise
Tiger, a Socket 370 Celeron clone. But just before the beginning of the
Forum, Rise cancled the introduction. In a press release Rise explained
that it was reasessing its plans with regard to the x86 CPU market. Should
they continue the Super Socket 7 mP6 line and introduce the mP6 II or
switch to the Socket 370 platform.
As it turned out neither of the two options, on 10 December 1999 Rise
announced it would stop competing with Intel. CEO David Lin explained
that Rise was unable to increase clockspeeds as fast as Intel. The direct
result was probably that Rise failed to convince any major desktop or
notebook manufacturer to use the mP6. With little or no business prospects,
Rise had no choice but to leave the x86 Desktop CPU business.
In the end only a few asian manfucturers used the Rise mP6 in
their systems, small quantities also ended up in retail channels and were
sold as upgrades. Most Socket 7 motherboards supported the CPU only requiring
an update of the BIOS.
After just over one year actively participating in the x86 Desktop
market Rise left it to Intel, AMD and newcommer VIA (who bought IDT and
Cyrix) and concentrated on the market for information appliances. SIS
and SGS Thompson bought a license for the mP6 core design so maybe we
will yet see a comeback of the shortlived mP6!
mP6-166, 2.0 x 83 (166MHz)
mP6-233, 2.0 x 95 (190MHz)
mP6-266, 2.0 x 100 (200MHz)
Rise mP6 pictures