November 1999 Industry Update

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Processor Update

AMD announced that they had shipped ‘hundreds of thousands’ of Athlon processors, in line with their estimates but many in the channel are speculating that shipments were much smaller than originally expected – primarily due to the lack of motherboards. AMD had also originally estimated a million units shipped in Q4, but that has been scaled back somewhat. Continued fear of an Intel retaliatory strike has prevented most major manufacturers from jumping on to the Athlon bandwagon, and most are telling AMD that Q1 ’00 is more likely.

AMD also announced that they had officially begun production in Fab 30 (Dresden). Though no official ‘start’ date was mentioned, the announcement was made on Oct. 20. The expectation is that parts will begin shipping early in Q2 ’00. While AMD does not like to divulge their actual plans, chances are that no K6-x processors will ship from this fab, despite some rumors to the contrary. On the other hand, the Athlon processors that ship will be .18 micron, using copper interconnects and will easily run at 1GHz and beyond.

The Athlon 700MHz processor was released on Oct 4, and there were some rumors that the 750MHz processor would be announced soon after Intel released their 733MHz chip on Oct 24. AMD, however, has indicated that while the 750MHz processor *could* be released today, they will only do so when the market situation requires it. Their position is that not only does the 700MHz Athlon perform on par with Intel’s 733MHz P-III, and at an equivalent price point, but the infrastructure for the P-III is not there yet. Once the i820 boards hit the street, expect a 750MHz Athlon to soon follow.

The K6 line has been enhanced somewhat with the announcement of the K6-2+, which will sport a Celeron-like 128KB full-speed, on-die L2 cache. This ‘new’ processor appears to be AMDs solution to power and speed issues on the Socket 7 platform. The smaller cache will allow the speeds to be ramped up without creating power and heat dissipation problems that would occur on the K6-III processor. It will be interesting to see if there is much of a performance difference, as most office applications and games will fit nicely into the smaller cache. It also looks as if the chances of a K6-III 500 before Christmas are pretty slim, and we may not see the K6-III at speeds too much faster than that in any case.

On Oct. 25, Intel announced 15 new processors, listed in the table below. There wasn’t much surprise in this announcement, as it has been expected for quite some time – however without the i820 chipset being available, only VIA based boards will officially support these processors. That obviously is a source of irritation to Intel, and apparently prompting them to file their recent lawsuit. Though it is possible to run the 133MHz parts on a BX based board at 100MHz, there really isn’t much sense in doing so, considering the additional cost for absolutely no benefit. Note that the ‘E’ designation in the part name is to differentiate 0.18-micron from 0.25-micron processors at the same frequency, and the ‘B’ designation is to differentiate 133 MHz FSB and 100 MHz FSB processors running at the same speed

Pentium III-733133 MHz FSB
Pentium III-700100 MHz FSB
Pentium III-667133 MHz FSB
Pentium III-650100 MHz FSB
Pentium III-600EB133 MHz FSB
Pentium III-600E100 MHz FSB
Pentium III-550E
(FCPGA package)
100 MHz FSB
Pentium III-533EB133 MHz FSB
Pentium III-500E
(FCPGA package)
100 MHz FSB
Pentium III Xeon-733133 MHz FSB
Pentium III Xeon-667133 MHz FSB
Pentium III Xeon-600133 MHz FSB
Mobile Pentium III-500100 MHz FSB
Mobile Pentium III-450100 MHz FSB
Mobile Pentium III-400100 MHz FSB

Via will also be coming out with a Socket 370 Cyrix CPU in February. Codenamed Joshua, it will support 133FSB and will reportedly have aggressive price points at $50 and below.

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