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Intel Roadmap Update June 1999 - Part I, The Highlights

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Краткое содержание статьи: Intel's new Coppermine processor shows how much performance you can still get out of the good old P6-design. Times for Athlon are getting harder, but the war is not lost yet. Coppermine catches up and AMD will have to strike again soon.

Intel's New Weapon - The Coppermine

Редакция THG,  25 октября 1999
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Coppermine's New Enhancements

What's the new stuff about Coppermine? Well, first of all it's important to note that Coppermine is not a completely new design. Rather than that it's the probably last enhancement of a CPU that was launched some 5 years ago as 'Pentium Pro'. Coppermine is an improved Pentium III-processor and most of it is based on its predecessor. I'd also like to note that the code name 'Coppermine' does NOT imply that this new processor is built using IBM's new copper-technology. The metal layers used in Coppermine are still aluminum (or 'aluminium' for all Europeans). The new stuff is the following:

256 kB of integrated, on-die second level (L2) cache, running at core clock

  • Effect A:
    This fact alone makes the new Pentium III a 'one-chip'-solution, so that the good old 'single edge cartridge', filled with CPU-core, L2-cache controller and L2-cache chip, is technically no longer needed anymore. You will still find Coppermine for Slot1 because Intel wants it so, but the new Coppermine-based Pentium III processors can reside just as well in a housing for Socket370. Intel calls those chips FC-PGA370, where 'FC' stands for 'flip-chip. Today's release includes only Pentium III 500E and Pentium III 550E in this kind of form factor, but in the future Slot1 will go away and the majority of Coppermines will reside in the FC-PGA packaging.
  • Effect B:
    The L2-cache of Coppermine may be only half the size of the L2-cache of its predecessor, but it's running at double the speed and is thus rather faster than slower than before.

Manufactured in .18µ-technology

  • Effect A:
    The Coppermine silicon-chip is very small, although it hosts no less than 28.1 million transistors. As a matter of fact it's with 106 mm2 even smaller than the Katmai-chip, which only hosts a third of the amount of transistors on 128 mm2. This means that it takes less silicon to produce Coppermine and thus the productions costs go down too.
  • Effect B:
    Coppermine requires less power and can be clocked higher. It can run at a voltage between 1.1-1.7 V and it needs less than a third of the power consumed by AMD's Athlon processor. Thus Coppermine is not only a 'pretty cool' CPU, it is also perfect for mobile computing, where power consumption is very important. Coppermine's highest clock speed that Intel releases today is 733 MHz and thus higher than AMD's highest clocked Athlon at 700 MHz.
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