Intel's Pentium III 1.2GHz processor

Octagenarium III
— 3:01 AM on July 30, 2001

THE LAST TIME Intel launched a new version of the desktop Pentium III processor was nearly a year ago, and things didn't go so well. Locked in a furious clock speed battle with AMD, Intel released the chip to counter AMD's latest Athlon. The original 1.13GHz Pentium III found its way into reviewers' hands, and things went downhill from there. The hardware sites discovered the processor wouldn't reliably run some of their benchmark tests. The Pentium III's aging P6 core, first introduced to market in the Pentium Pro at speeds of 150MHz, couldn't quite make the leap past 1GHz.

After some investigation, Intel pulled the 1.13GHz Pentium III back from the market, and a long hiatus ensued. The Pentium III languished at gigahertz and lower clock speeds while the company concentrated on its new, high-clock-speed burner, the Pentium 4. Equipped with a brand-new NetBurst microarchitecture, oodles of platform bandwidth, and the power of a whole new digit after its name, the P4 was Intel's best tool to combat AMD's advancing Athlon. But even the mighty Pentium 4, with all those megahertz available to it, couldn't best the Athlon.

All of that may turn around soon, however. The Athlon is a great design, but one could argue the processor industry is primarily about manufacturing. On the manufacturing front, Intel has just taken a decisive lead, and the processor we're reviewing here today is the first evidence of that fact. Read on to see how well the PIII handles the jump to 1.2GHz now.

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