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The Intel Pentium III Coppermine FC-PGA

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.

The competition

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 - i840 Chipsets

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.

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