The Intel Pentium III Coppermine
The computer industry is moving forward even as you read this. Technology
continues to grow and every few days new products are coming out on the market.
These products can be specialized hardware or even software, though hardware
probably gets the most attention in the media. Generally, when we speak of
computer hardware, we think of the main components and what generally comes
to mind is the central processing unit (CPU). A processor is the logic circuitry
that responds to and processes the basic instructions that drive a computer.
The term processor has generally replaced the term CPU (central processing
unit). The processor in a personal computer or that is embedded in small devices
is often called a microprocessor
A microprocessor is also sometimes called a logic chip. It is the "engine"
that goes into motion when you turn your computer on. A microprocessor is
designed to perform arithmetic and logic operations that make use of small
number-holding areas called registers. Typical microprocessor operations
include adding, subtracting, comparing two numbers, and fetching numbers from
one area to another.
Intel introduced the Pentium III on the 26th of February 1999. It was released
with the core name KATMAI and was built using a 0.25-Micron process. On that
day, they claimed that they introduced the fastest processor on the market
for the personal computer. Their first products in this line were released
at 450Mhz and 500Mhz, which was followed by the 550Mhz a month later. Since
the earlier Pentium II chips were also built on the 0.25-micron process what
distinguished the Katmai was a set of 70 new multimedia instructions, known
as ‘SSE’ (streaming SIMD extensions). With these new features Intel chose
to re-baptize the MMX technology as MMX2.
In October 1998 at the Microprocessor Forum in San Jose, California, the
first presentation of Athlon was made and some very interesting information
was revealed. Probably the biggest one was the 200Mhz bus speed that the Athlon
was slated to run on. Many were already wondering, and giving their personal
theories online, on the upcoming processor. Or should we call it beast? But
the Chip giant "Intel" didn't take them seriously enough.
Then in 1999 AMD released the long-awaited Athlon CPU. The Katmai core had
problems following the Athlon, and even the "B" revision of the Pentium III
Katmai couldn’t catch up with the Athlon. This was probably Intel’s scariest
moment. But they never gave up, as we say, competition helps! A few weeks
later, Intel finally released the long awaited Coppermine, which was supposed
to ship in september 1999, but was delayed by a few months which comes to
the 25th October 1999. This was the worlds first CPU running on a .18 micron
process and having over 29 million transistors, and Intel finally had something
to compete with the Athlon, even without running it on the delayed i820 -
The 0.18 Micron Technology and L2 memory on chip.
The Pentium III Coppermine offers many benefits over its previous core (KATMAI).
The Coppermine offers a 0.18-micron technology compared to the KATMAI core,
which was distributed on the 0.25 process. This technique will allow the CPU
to be distributed in a smaller size. The 0.18 process allows the implementation
of over 3 times more transistors, which is a big move forward. Compared to
the KATMAI core (9.5 million transistors) the Coppermine core uses 28.1 million
transistors. This is due to the direct L2 implementation on the chip, which
uses a large amount of space on the core. This offers many other benefits
over the 0.25 process, one of the primary ones being lower voltage use. A
FC-PGA Coppermine chip uses 1.60volts compared to the cartridged version of
the Katmai, which uses 2.0 volts. Even when compared to a cartridged Coppermine,
which at 1.65 volts, is 0.5 volts more than the FC-PGA. This will end up requiring
less cooling and keeping the CPU cooler. And as we step up to the 0.18 process,
overclocking is a very good possibility. As you may already heard, the Katmais
are already pushing their limits. The 0.18 process won't limit us in that
scene anymore. A simple
550E can do at least 682 MHz (124 FSB x 5.5) with a simple heatsink. The direct
L2 implementation is another big improvement. With the release of the Pentium
III in February 1999, Intel decided to use their old strategy on the L2 memory,
keeping it separated from the core. This was mostly because of a lower cost
of production. The Coppermine includes 256k of L2 memory implanted in the
chip, running full speed. Even with the KATMAI 512k of L2 cache (half-speed)
the Coppermine runs faster with 256k of full speed cache.