Overclocking the FC-PGA Coppermine: Part 1by Anand Lal Shimpi on December 21, 1999 11:50 PM EST
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It is often told, from one generation to the next, that people are always taking things for granted. Everywhere you go you hear complaints about the most trivial things, like not having a blow drier in a hotel room, and having a car without *gasp* power windows. Even in the computer hardware industry, especially among hardware enthusiasts and performance tweakers, there is the same lack of appreciation for what was once never thought possible.
Just browsing the newsgroups and discussion forums you hear about users complaining when their $40 Celeron 366 won't overclock to 550MHz. It wasn't too long ago that the now retired Byte magazine featured a 386 SX 20 overclocked to 25MHz for approximately $10,000 on its front cover, and today we have users complaining about how their $40 CPUs won't run at a 50% faster frequency.
While I'm just toying with the overclocking enthusiast in all of you, it is interesting to note how times have changed. What was the one chip that corrupted our outlook on overclocking? Although you could argue that the old AMD 5x86 133 chips held a great potential for overclocking, the chip that truly ruined overclocking for the rest of our enthusiast lives was the Celeron. Originally debuting at 266MHz in a form that could easily be overclocked to 400MHz, by far the most famous Celeron was the good ol' 300A that, even today, continues to run reliably at 450MHz for those that invested in the extremely affordable CPU.
Since the Celeron 300A craze, we have yet to see a CPU emerge with as great of a potential for overclocking success. As the Celerons increased in clock speed, their overclocking success rates decreased almost proportionally, with a few rare exceptions (i.e. Celeron 366 @ 550MHz). The 0.25-micron process Intel had started the Celerons out on was nearing its limits, and although we will see future 0.25-micron Celeron products as we enter the New Year, not a single one will clock in at higher than 600MHz without switching to a new core.
The hope for the Celeron to make an overclocking comeback is lost, but, luckily, there is one CPU that has the potential to take its place: Intel's 0.18-micron FC-PGA Pentium III. As we briefly alluded to in our review of the FC-PGA Pentium III, the 0.18-micron fabrication process and the relatively low 1.60v core voltage make the 667 - 733MHz overclocking range, for the 500 and 550MHz chips respectively, not a far fetched idea.