How to cook a Thunderbird


— 12:51 AM on May 5, 2000

'In a socket, not a slot' seems to be the preferred method, since AMD's next revision of the Athlon won't be aimed at Slot A motherboards like current Athlons. The T-bird core looked like a possibly killer upgrade option for owners of older Athlons, but this bird may not fly in a Slot A mobo. The boy wonder's new AMD roadmap update delivered the news:

According to AMD, you shouldn't be able to go out and purchase a Slot-A Thunderbird, meaning that you will most likely need to get a new Socket-A motherboard for use with the Thunderbird. While it is inevitable that there will be some Slot-A Thunderbirds leaked from the OEM channels to on-line vendors, for the most part you can expect the Thunderbird to be a Socket-A solution only. . . . AMD is pretty far behind with the transition to the cheaper Socket-A packaging for their processors and they want to make the move as quickly as possible. . . . This will definitely upset the many Athlon users with Slot-A motherboards that will be relatively useless when the Thunderbird hits the streets this June.
Hrm. So it appears AMD will limit supplies of the Slot A T-birds. Can I have a Slotket A, please?

Maybe not.

The plot thickens, as a post at JC's indicates the socketed Athlons are outright incompatible with the Via KX133 chipet. That would make AMD's stated reason for the super-rapid transition to a socket-only setup—cost cutting—seem rather suspect. This fact appears to have perturbed the usually decaffeinated JC, causing a rare outburst:

Okay, okay, I was just going to idly report this and ignore, but this is really irritating me. What? What about the KX133 makes it somehow electrically incompatible with the Thunderbird/Athlon when the AMD750 supposedly has no such problems? Can you imagine how VIA must have felt when AMD told them that the Thunderbird is so bugged that it cannot work with their chipsets and they'd have to capitulate and build another one?

This is a bit intolerable, if true -- especially since AMD is treating a product flaw (to their credit, they have had as of late far fewer such flaws than their competitors) like a feature. I'm probably being a bit hard on them, but I hate it when I'm led astray on a product line's potential upgradability.

Not a happy camper.

Another post over at the cold, HardOCP backs up the claim that the T-bird won't fly with the KX133. Kyle received a note from a reader on the topic and sought confirmation from AMD. Given the chance to clear everything up, AMD danced, and the fog only swirled a bit. You know what that means.

Which raises some questions about the super-secret Thunderbird benchmarks Kyle posted a while back. As the terrifyingly feisty folks at the AMD Zone have pointed out, those numbers are supposed to have come from a Slot A version of the Thunderbird running on a KX133 motherboard. So what's going on? Well..

This leaves us with a few possible conclusions. 1. The KX133 can be used with the Thunderbird. 2. There was a mistake and the Thunderbird benchmarks that were leaked to HardOCP were actually on a AMD 750 based board. 3. The Thunderbird benchmarks at HardOCP were a hoax.
And I tend to believe Kyle when he says his source is solid. So I'm not quite sure what's going on here. We'll keep an eye on it.
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