New Year's Resolution: A new CPU every month
The trend of rapidly releasing new CPUs will continue in 2001 as the roadmaps of both the major manufacturers indicate that almost every month we will see at least one new CPU release.
Intel will be the first to introduce a new processor in 2001 and they will do so by introducing two processors in particular, a new Celeron and a new Pentium 4. As we mentioned in our Intel CPU & Chipset Roadmap, Intel will be releasing the first 100MHz FSB Celeron in January, at 800MHz.
Also in January will be the release of the 1.3GHz Pentium 4. The 1.3GHz Pentium 4 will be designed to push the Pentium 4 into the mainstream market as well as discourage users from purchasing high end Pentium IIIs in favor of picking up a similarly priced but "higher performance" Pentium 4. From what we have shown in our Pentium 4 Review, a 1.3GHz Pentium 4 will have much difficulty competing with a 1GHz Pentium III and in many cases will end up being slower.
While being introduced in January (and already present in Intel's datasheets), the 1.3GHz Pentium 4 will be out of the market's view by March and should be replaced by a 1.4GHz Pentium 4 carrying a reduced price. This makes you wonder if the 1.3GHz Pentium 4 is really all that necessary or if it is nothing more than a marketing trick designed to fill the current clock speed gap that exists between the fastest Pentium III and the slowest Pentium 4.
From the other side of the road, also in January, we will see the release of the Duron 850 from AMD. This will continue to give AMD the clock speed lead over Intel in the value market segment. However, as we saw in our reviews of the SiS 730S as well as the VIA KM133 (two value platforms specifically targeted at the Duron), the performance of the Duron is severely crippled by integrated solutions that it will be coupled with. It wouldn't be too surprising for a 100MHz FSB Celeron 800 on an i810E to come out faster than a Duron 800 on one of its new value platforms. This recent discovery will turn the Celeron vs Duron grudge match into one revolving around cost and driver maturity and not about performance, for OEMs and system integrators at least. For PC hardware enthusiasts that understand the value of the Duron processor as a high-end platform, the Celeron is still not as attractive.
In February/March the Athlon should gain another clock step or two taking it up to 1.33GHz and possibly up to 1.4GHz. Both of these CPUs will still be based on the current Thunderbird core and they should generate a considerable amount of heat. Luckily the 1.4GHz Athlon should be the last Thunderbird based processor for AMD, paving the way for the 1.5GHz Athlon based on the cooler running Palomino core to be released sometime in the May - June timeframe.
One question that continues to remain unanswered is what clock speed the first Palomino will actually run at. While we just mentioned that the first Palomino will be running at 1.5GHz, if you do the math you'll realize that 133MHz (the Athlon's new FSB) doesn't divide into 1500MHz to give a whole or a half multiplier. It is highly doubtful that AMD will use a 100MHz DDR FSB for the 1.5GHz processor, meaning that they will either introduce it as a 1466MHz part or a 1533MHz part using the 133MHz DDR FSB.