Intel to announce 800MHz PIII next week

— 1:22 AM on December 15, 1999

The rumors have been swirling about for a while now, and decided to go ahead and call it a sure thing: 750 and 800MHz versions of the Pentium III are coming next week. Even if the 750MHz version of the Athlon proves to be the fastest x86-class processor, Intel is obviously serious about retaking the clock fequency lead from AMD because of its symbolic importance.

There are a couple of interesting things about this story. One is the advances in process technology Intel employed in taking this aging processor core to such high frequencies. You can read more about the "notched poly" trick in this EE Times article. Intel has traditionally led the market in process tech, and it may save them this time 'round where their CPU core technology can't. Copper? Who needs copper?

Another interesting facet of the story: notice that the 750MHz rating is not a multiple of the 133MHz bus used on Rambus-based systems. The article attributes this continued emphasis on 100MHz bus speeds to continued Rambus problems. It seems Intel has had to really change their tack on this issue:

There are also continuing supply problems with the components. One is motherboards, which are necessary to couple the latest Pentium III chips with Rambus memory, a vital ingredient for wringing out the full performance potential of the latest Pentium IIIs, said sources.

"The 700-MHz [Pentium IIIs] are getting easier and easier to get. The 733s are impossible to find," said one executive at a small computer maker, who added that Intel's Rambus-centric motherboards are extremely difficult to find. "Nothing has come out with Rambus on it," the source said.

The word on the street is that Intel's new Coppermine chipset, the 820, is slower in its SDRAM flavor than Intel's older BX chipset. (You know Dandy Andy at BXBoards is loving this.) However, hosting a Coppermine CPU on a BX board isn't always easy, so the motherboard situation for new PIIIs is rather murky.

Finally, PC World reports on coming processors, including mention of the Williamette core, which will apparently be called the Pentium IV (surprise!). They're saying the Williamette will have "a 200-MHz system bus, like the Athlons." But I believe the Athlon's bus will be at least 266MHz by then.

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