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The Intel Pentium III Slot1 650E

Last October, Intel "released" the Athlon competitor it so desperately needed. The only problem was, obtaining a Coppermine was almost impossible as was putting your hands on RIMM for an Intel i820 based motherboard. Today, nearly six months later, Coppermines are plentiful as are non-Intel chipset motherboard solutions. Why review an old Slot-1 based processor? In a nutshell, with the uncertainty of RIMM (or DDR SDRAM), motherboards such as the Asus P3V4X, and zero dedicated Coppermine PPGA motherboards, the overclocker has the opportunity to obtain screaming performance for very, very little money.

What This Review Is All About
Factory Specifications
The Chip
  • 650 MHz Speed (6.5x100)
  • 0.18-micron Process Technology
  • 28 Million Transistors
  • 32 KB L1 Cache
  • 256 KB Advanced Transfer Cache
  • Slot 1 (SECC2) Connector
  • 21.5 Watt Power Dissipation
  • 64 Gigabytes of Addressable Memory

For the overclocker, someone who wants to push their machine to it's absolute limits, this review is for finding out just how far a particular processor can go. The Celeron series of processors has proven to be not only cheap in general, but great overclockers due to the multiplier and FSB speed settings. Can the Slot-1 "big boy", keep up with arguably the best kept processor secret (the Celeron)?

What This Review Isn't

If what you desire is nothing less than a 45 page dissertation on every last aspect of the Coppermine series of chips, please go here and peruse Intel's 104 page datasheet. It is a great read for those techies out there that crave nothing less than every detail.

The competition (FC-PGA Article)

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 couldnít catch up with the Athlon. This was probably Intelís 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 - i840 Chipsets.

The 0.18 Micron Technology and L2 memory on chip. (FC-PGA Article)

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.

Associated Equipment

Without the right (stable) gear, overclocking is a rather fruitless adventure only ending up in frustration. Before you run out and grab any chip suitable for overclocking, you must ensure that the rest of your associated hardware can handle all the aspects of forcing your slab of silicon to run at "illegal" speeds.

For this test, I chose the Abit BE6-II motherboard, the Maxtor 30.7GB ATA66 HD, a 128MB strip of Mushkin CAS3 PC133 SDRAM and a PowerMan (Sparkle) 235 watt ATX power supply. Your choice of video cards will have a dramatic effect, due to the presence or lack of the magic 1/2 AGP multiplier. Of course, if you don't require an AGP card, various Voodoo 3 PCI solutions exist to get you stable at the 133 MHz FSB.

The Chip

ID
Back View
Front View

Our Slot-1 sample was manufactured in the first week of 2000. It's important to note that this is the boxed or retail version of the processor with the factory 3 year warranty and factory heatsink fan. It was birthed in Malaysia and has a default core voltage of 1.65 volts. With more radical cooling solutions, I'm convinced that higher frequencies could be reached at the sacrifice of added expense and noise.






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