Now that Intel has broken the gigahertz barrier with its processors, the US chip giant is evaluating options for releasing the Pentium III at even higher clock rates.
With Intel's 1GHz model barely out of the door, the move further demonstrates the intensity of the rivalry between Intel and AMD.
The next range of clock speeds, based on the Pentium III's 133MHz front side bus, are expected to be 1.06, 1.13, 1.2 and 1.26GHz.A representative for Intel UK said the Coppermine technology - the core of the current Pentium III processor - is currently performing very strongly and still has "significant headroom" for expansion. Coppermine entered the market at 600MHz last year.
Intel refused to put a time scale on when these 1GHz-plus CPUs would ship, but Neil Stevens, Marketing Manager at Tiny, one of Intel's largest European customers, revealed that its talks with the chip giant suggested a third-quarter release was most likely.
"They are rushing it, however," he said. "It is becoming an internal war with AMD rather than having any true customer significance. The average Tiny customer does not need this speed, 650-700MHz covers the majority of people."
Intel is certainly feeling the pressure from AMD's new Thunderbird processor and ramping up Coppermine speeds would offer an interim solution while it works on its next generation Willamette technology.
Willamette will give Intel a significant performance advantage. The company has already demonstrated the chip running at 1.5GHz, and it will also offer integrated cache, a 400MHz system bus and dual Rambus D-Ram channels.
A new multimedia instruction set, similar to the Pentium III's Streaming SIMD Extensions, will help speed video and speech recognition processing.
The 'Moore's Law' trend of doubling clock speeds annually is likely to continue, according to Intel. Not only will speeds continue to increase, but there will be a greater range of chips to choose from. Willamette and Intel's forthcoming integrated CPU, Timna (CRN, 23 February), will hold together a set of offerings that already contains Intel's Pentium III and Celeron lines.
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