There's one situation where Intel is looking particularly sad. After AMD had released their Giga-Hertz-Athlon last month, Intel had to follow suit and launched their Giga Hertz Pentium III two days later. Intel had to show the world that it was able to make Giga-processors as well. However, while AMD is shipping Giga-Athlons at rather nice quantities, Intel is not even able to supply evaluation samples of their Giga-CPU to OEMs and system integrators. The few Giga-Pentium III processors out there require a heat sink of gigantic size, featuring a special copper 'heat pipe' that leads to another heat sink outside of the computer case. This heat sink costs some $50 - 80, adding nicely to the price of the - anyway unavailable - Giga-PIII. For me this Giga-hoax is exemplary for Intel's current situation. Over are the days when Intel used to build up large quantities of processors before they were launched. Gone are the times when Intel was the reliable partner that always used to be able to supply product. The OEMs, system integrators and motherboard makers must be close to tears remembering the history when doing business with Intel resulted in certain success and huge revenues. Can you still remember Intel making fun of AMD about their inability to supply K6-processors? Last year before the Athlon-launch Intel used to respond to questions how they see the superior performance of the upcoming new AMD-processor with words like 'yeah, well, the performance may be ok, but we know that AMD will hardly be able to ship those processors reliably'. AMD has all reasons to laugh and celebrate. Intel is currently heading at the speed of light for making a huge fool out of itself and AMD is there to save the day. It reminds me of an old line of Buck Murdock (William Shattner) in 'Airplane II - The Sequel'. "Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes"
Intel's CPU plans for 2000
- Slot1 is supposed to die a slow, but certain death. Now that Intel's processors don't require an external L2-cache anymore, there's hardly any reason for the cartridge-version (SECC2) of their CPUs, which is fitting in the good old Slot1. In the second quarter of this year Intel wants to ship 50% of their processors in the FC-PGA version for Socket370. Slot1 is not supposed to host any processors that run faster than 1 GHz and there might be a price premium for the Slot1-versions of Pentium III in the second half of this year.
- In the third quarter of 2000, Intel is planning to launch the Pentium III at 933 MHz. Currently there don't seem to be any plans of supplying 900 or 950 MHz version for the 100 MHz FSB. Supposedly there is a problem to offer multipliers of x9 and x9.5. I consider this as pure hoax though. It might well be that Intel will launch Pentium III 900 and 950. The multiplier is not an issue at all. Celerons can do x9 (Celeron 600) already and x9.5 is not far off as well. The setting for this frequency could e.g. be the old x4, x4.5 or x5 setting.
- 'Willamette', the highly discussed successor of 'Coppermine', is supposed to be launched at 1.3 and 1.4 GHz in Q4/2000. 1.5 GHz and above is expected for the beginning of 2001. One of the discussions I've seen recently is going on about the so-called 'MHz-gap' between the 'Coppermine' at 1 GHz and the 'Willamette' at 1.3 GHz. I don't see why this should be an issue worth going on about. Who can tell me if 'Willamette' at 1.3 GHz is even going to be faster than 'Coppermine' at 1 GHz? There are enough people who seriously doubt that, including yours truly.
- The latest Celerons at 566 and 600 MHz are finally using the 'Coppermine' core as well, but one half of its L2-cache is disabled. This procedure in combination with Celeron's pathetic 66 MHz FSB is supposed to make sure that there will still be an artificial performance delta between Celeron and Pentium III. To me this is as if Chrysler would sell a cheap Viper that is missing 5 sparc plugs and using narrow tires. Intel might change their 66 MHz FSB policy once AMD releases its 'Spitfire' processor though. What else can they do?
Currently Intel's plans are not looking like it though. Celeron 633, 667 and 700 are supposed to be launched in Q4/2000 and Q1/2001 is supposed to bring us Celeron 733 and above.