Why Socket-370?

Everyone knows that the Socket-370 interface standard has only been around since the start of the year, therefore it would make absolutely no sense to produce a product based upon a standard most users haven’t even touched yet. Powerleap’s solution? Place the PL-PII on a Socket-370 to Slot-1 adapter. Not only does this allow for the processor itself to be upgraded without having to replace the entire upgrade unit, but it also allows for a number of tweaks to be applied to the processor seated in the socket on the card, since there is essentially an interface between the Socket-370 CPU interface and the Slot-1 interface on your motherboard, this is where Powerleap comes in.

Also, since the Celeron is a completely clock multiplier locked processor, your motherboard doesn’t even need to have official support for the 6.5x clock multiplier required by the Celeron 433 due to the fact that the clock multiplier is a function of the CPU not of the motherboard. All you really need is BIOS support, and not complete BIOS support at that as you’ll soon find out…

The Powerleap PL-PII

The PL-PII, as briefly mentioned earlier, is a PPGA (Socket-370) Celeron processor, the initial shipments will include the newest Celerons clocked at 433MHz, on a Socket-370 to Slot-1 converter board that allows for the Socket-370 Celeron to be plugged into a card that will then plug into a Slot-1 motherboard.

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If that was all the upgrade consisted of, then Powerleap would most certainly be the laughing stock of the industry, since Socket-370 to Slot-1 converter boards have been around for quite some time now. Luckily, for Powerleap’s sake, they put a little more on the board’s PCB than your average converter board gives you.

ABIT is no longer the only choice

For starters, Powerleap decided that the time had come for overclockers to have more of an option than simply ABIT when it came to motherboards to choose from. In the past, the only Slot-1 Pentium II/Celeron motherboard manufacturer that allowed for an adjustable core voltage setting was ABIT, a motherboard manufacturer that isn’t known for having the most stable motherboards, yet the most overclockable, due to their unique ability to adjust the core voltage of any CPU.

The technique behind doing so is not too difficult at all, however it does require a bit of work on the part of the motherboard manufacturer, especially when dealing with Slot-1 CPUs, and has therefore, been avoided by most. The only other company ever to attempt a manual core voltage adjustment is Microstar International (MSI), with their latest BX board supporting virtually the same features as ABIT’s BH6. However, other than those two, most users were left without any options. This meant that if you were planning on overclocking your Celeron processor, your best route would be with an ABIT motherboard, regardless of what motherboard you preferred.

In realization of this situation, Powerleap included a voltage regulator on the PL-PII’s PCB, allowing for the manual adjustment of the processor’s core voltage from 1.8v up to 3.5v in 0.1v increments (0.05v increments from 1.80v to 2.10v). This same feature can be found on ASUS’ own Socket-370 to Slot-1 adapter, so it isn’t completely unique to Powerleap. Regardless of who thought of it first, the bottom line is that with Powerleap’s adapter, you are no longer limited to ABIT motherboards if you want the most control over how high you overclock your Celeron based system.

The on-board voltage regulator also means wonderful news for owners of older Pentium II motherboards that may not be able to supply the correct amount of voltage to the Celeron processor. Since the first Pentium II CPUs, based on the Klamath core, operated at a 2.8v core voltage setting, some motherboard manufacturers (none of the big names, mostly the el-cheapo board manufacturers) opted to save a few pennies and only include support for the 2.8v core voltage on their boards. This meant that newer processors based on the Deschutes core, which operates at 2.0v, would not work properly on the motherboards. Although AnandTech has yet to review a LX based motherboard without support for the 2.0v core voltage, there are apparently a number of them out there. Even if your motherboard supports the 2.0v core voltage, in many cases, unless your BIOS can properly detect the CPU, the voltage supplied would still be at the 2.8v mark. The on-board voltage regulator makes sure that your CPU gets the 2.0v it needs, no more, and no less. The scalable voltage settings also make sure that should the need ever arise to tweak the voltage supplied, the possibility is there.

The PL-PII adapter also has an auto-detect feature if you don’t plan on messing with core voltage settings at all, so those that are frightened of jumper settings (don’t worry, we are all a little intimidated the first time) don’t absolutely have to mess with them on the upgrade card.

The second feature ABIT held over a portion of the BX motherboard market was the option to run a 66MHz FSB processor at 100MHz and vise versa. Although most mainboard manufacturers did allow for this feature to be toggled, there were a few that didn’t. Once again, Powerleap makes sure that you have the greatest flexibility when it comes to which motherboards you can use the PL-PII adapter on, as it allows for the processor to fool the motherboard it is either a 66MHz or 100MHz FSB processor via a single jumper. Remember that this jumper only applies to motherboards with native support for the 100MHz FSB, the PL-PII does not add 100MHz FSB support to your older motherboards.

Two for the price of one

What inspired the production of the Powerleap PL-PII? Remember the Dual Celeron trick AnandTech documented a short while ago? Well, if there’s an unconquered market out there willing to be taken, leave it up to an ambitious company to make their presence known. The Powerleap PL-PII ships ready for dual processor operation, meaning you don’t have to solder any contacts together, you don’t have to manipulate any resistors, simply pop two Powerleap PL-PII chips in a dual processor motherboard and you’re off to performance heaven with Dual 433MHz Celerons at the command of your system.

Those of you that felt intimidated working with the Dual Celeron trick will find the PL-PII to be a breath of fresh air, as the Dual Processor option is enabled at the factory and doesn’t even require a jumper to set. Out of the box the PL-PII can be up and running for you in almost any configuration.

Index A few Problems

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