September 2000 Industry Update

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Processor Update

Intel Processors

Desktop – Less than one month after the official introduction, Intel recalled their 1.13GHz processor, citing problems discovered by several websites that cause the chip to ‘freeze’ under certain circumstances. These problems will reportedly take several months to correct. Interestingly, the Sept 1 roadmap shows the 1.13GHz chip in gray for Q3 and Q4 of this year, indicating that they knew it would be extremely limited quantities at best. The roadmap indicates that it will begin shipping in quantity in Q1 ’01.

The P4 is shown being introduced at 1.4GHz and 1.5GHz at the beginning of Q4 in very small quantities, but quickly ramping by the end of the year. In Q1 ’01, they have added a 1.7GHz+ part, with a 2GHz+ part appearing in Q2! By Q3 of next year, the P4 is targeted for systems $1200 and up.

Pre-release P4 parts have been tested, and the performance has been reported as disappointing, at best. However, as with all pre-release processors, there are very likely several process tweaks, BIOS and driver optimizations to be done which will improve the performance. In addition, it is possible that some features within the processor were disabled in the beta parts, partly because they have not been fully validated and partly in order to keep the competition off-balance. On the other hand, with some reports showing the P4 lagging Athlon by as much as 20% on a clock-for-clock basis, the tweaks would have to boost performance by well over 25% in order for it to live up to the expectations set by Intel.

The .13u Coppermine (code named Tualatin) will be introduced in Q3 ’01 at 1.26GHz (133MHz FSB), and is to be mated with the Almador chipset. The lowest PIII speeds will move from 733MHz (currently) to 1GHz in Q3 ’01, with the 100MHz FSB for Pentium III being phased out by next quarter.

The Celeron processor will ramp from the current 533-700MHz range it is offered in currently to 750-850MHz+ by Q3 ’01. The 800MHz Celeron is scheduled to debut in Q1 ’01, and will be the first 100MHz Celeron part. The 850MHz part is listed for Q2. There have been several sites reporting that the 100MHz FSB Celeron has been pushed back to Q2, however it is not reflected on this roadmap from two weeks ago.

Mobile – The current mobile processor offerings from Intel are Celeron 500-650MHz and PIII 600-750MHz. Q1 ’01 will see the introduction of the 1GHz PIII mobile processor, followed by the Tualatin in mid-Q2. For the mobile market, the Tualatin will be offered in two speed grades, though the speeds are not listed. The Celeron will reach 850MHz in Q3 ’01, so that mobile Celerons and PIII CPUs will reach speed parity with desktop processors before the end of next year. That, at least is the plan, which sounds strikingly similar to the plan Intel had laid out for last year.

Workstation/Server – According to this roadmap, Itanium will debut in Q4 at 733MHz, followed by an 800MHz part in Q1 ’01. Foster will show up in Q2 ’01 at 2GHz with a 256KB L2, followed by a 1.4GHz+ version in Q3 which will have a 512KB/1MB L3. The pilot release of the McKinley will occur in Q4 ’01

AMD Processors

On the same day that Intel recalled their 1.13GHz Coppermine, AMD announced their 1.1GHz part, indicating that a 1.2GHz part would follow ‘soon’. A spokesperson confirmed this week that AMD intends to stay ahead of Intel in processor performance, so they will make available whatever speed Athlon is necessary to to maintain that when Intel introduces their Pentium 4 part.

AMD President, Hector Ruiz, recently talked publicly about the upcoming codenamed Mustang, Palomino and Morgan processors, which are essentially the same ‘tweaked’ Athlon core with differing amounts of L2 cache. Though little information has been released about the specific plans, it is reasonable to assume that these parts will be intended for the mobile, high-end desktop and commercial (dual processor) markets.

Reports from various market sectors indicate that the Duron is selling very well in overseas markets, but not so well domestically. One source has reported the Duron outselling the Athlon 4-to-1 in Asia. On the other hand, the Athlon seems to be much more popular in the U.S. market than in Europe or Asia.

One source within the company hinted that AMD will easily make their shipments for Q3, and claimed they are still very comfortable with their Q4 numbers. Three of the top four U.S. OEMs are shipping Athlon systems, with Dell the notable exception. Since they dropped plans for Duron systems a few months ago, no mention of K7 systems from Dell has been heard in the rumor mill.

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