It was almost exactly one year ago that Intel released the first Pentium III running at 1.13GHz.  Through the diligent efforts of Dr. Thomas Pabst of Tom’s Hardware and the cooperation of AnandTech and Kyle Bennett from HardOCP, it was discovered that the 1.13GHz Pentium III processor was not suited for release.  The three retail CPUs that were sent out to all three of the aforementioned websites were unable to run the most grueling tests without failing to complete at least one of them.  This eventually led to Intel’s recall of the less than 200 1.13GHz Pentium III CPUs that made it into the hands of customers. 

Since then, Intel hasn’t even attempted to re-launch the 1.13GHz Pentium III.  What was so difficult about hitting 1.13GHz was that the Pentium III’s architecture, combined with the 0.18-micron manufacturing process that it was produced under, was unable to run reliably at 1.13GHz.  The only ways for Intel to get around that limitation would be to tweak the architecture of the processor further (akin to AMD’s Athlon 4 vs. Athlon cores) or to decrease the circuit size of the processor, thus paving the way for higher clock speeds.  With the Pentium III destined to be replaced by the Pentium 4, the only sensible thing to do was to move the Pentium III to a smaller circuit size, courtesy of Intel’s 0.13-micron manufacturing process. 

Historically, Intel has initially introduced new CPU technologies and manufacturing processes in very low volume markets, and then later, after perfecting the technologies, adapted them to more mass production segments.  This translates into most new technology being introduced first in mobile or server segments and later filtering down to the desktop market.  Case in point would be Intel’s 0.13-micron process which made its debut in the lowest volume market segment that Intel could possibly produce a x86 CPU for: the mobile Pentium III market. 

The 0.13-micron mobile Pentium III is known as the Pentium III-M and it is based off of Intel’s new 0.13-micron Pentium III core known internally as the Tualatin.  The Tualatin core replaces the 0.18-micron Coppermine core that was introduced in October 1999.

Although primarily intended for the mobile market, Intel did make two other versions of the 0.13-micron Tualatin core; one intended for the desktop market and one for the server market.  The desktop version is still called the Pentium III while the server part goes by the name Pentium III-S.  In order to distinguish the 1.13GHz Tualatin from the failed 1.13GHz Pentium III, it is labeled as a Pentium III 1.13A.

What we’re taking a look at today is the desktop Tualatin processor.  This CPU carries a good deal of significance not only because it is Intel’s first 0.13-micron desktop processor, but also because this core will eventually be the basis for the next-generation Celeron. 

More than just a die shrink

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