It should be common knowledge by now that Intel will soon be following AMD’s release of the 1GHz Athlon with the announcement of a 1GHz Pentium III, and both manufacturers actually used similar techniques in reaching the 1000MHz mark.
We contacted Intel about their 1GHz launch, and according to them, they are concentrating on OEM system availability of the 1GHz part. They are aiming to have 1GHz systems shipping at launch but in limited volumes. It is not clear what ‘limited volumes’ will actually translate into, but it seems like if you’re willing to pay the price and if you can find one, you’ll be able to purchase a 1GHz Pentium III system this month.
Most AnandTech readers won’t be chasing after OEM systems, rather you’ll be wondering when you can get your hands on one of these chips. Intel is sticking to their roadmap and you won’t see a 1GHz Pentium III until the third quarter of this year, so expect to see boxed 1GHz processors from Intel around September.
AMD is aiming at the OEM market as well and according to our sources at AMD, the plan is to have a launch with OEM partners offering “build to order” systems (things like customizable systems from Gateway, etc…) that will begin shipping within a month. The situation is a tad different for Compaq and Gateway which are AMD's lead partners. You will be able to order 1GHz systems from them this week and have them here shortly thereafter since AMD is committing their entire March production to their lead partners.
Orders are currently being taken on 900/950MHz Athlon parts and lead partners should begin offering them shortly for delivery this month. End users should also expect to be able to get their hands on 900/950MHz parts this month as well. But here's the killer, AMD will actually have Athlon CPUs available to the general market (i.e. you can pick one up from an online vendor) in 2nd quarter. If the 900 and 950MHz parts are due out this month, and provided that there isn't a shortage of Athlon parts, don't be surprised to see 1GHz Athlon parts surfacing in the next couple of months. According to AMD, they expect to have hundreds of thousands of the 900/950/1000MHz parts available in Q2, a full quarter ahead of Intel.
Yield and heat are two pretty big issues when talking about hitting 1GHz, for both AMD and Intel. In terms of maintaining high enough yields, both manufacturers have increased the core voltage of their CPUs in order to make them “1GHz-ready.” Intel’s Pentium III Coppermine core received a 3% increase in core voltage, putting it at 1.70v for the 1GHz parts while AMD’s Athlon got a 6% boost in core voltage over the Athlon 850 (12.5% over the original 1.60v Athlon) which puts it at 1.80v for AMD’s 1GHz CPU.
In addressing issues of heat, Intel’s OEMs are outfitting their 1GHz CPUs with “larger heatsinks” capable of handling the added heat dissipated by the higher clock speed Pentium III. For the Athlon, AMD supplied us with a chip that featured a noticeably more efficient heatsink design than what they usually send us.
Cooling the Athlon's L2
Instead of just a standard heatsink/fan combo, AMD outfitted with our test sample 1GHz CPU with a Foxconn unit that featured two fans. The heatsink itself made complete contact with the L2 cache modules on the processor itself, something that was only somewhat accomplished by the heatsinks that AMD used on their evaluation processors in the past. What’s the point of mentioning what sort of heatsink AMD supplied us with for our testing? It indicates that the cooling demands of the 1GHz processor are definitely more than what we’re used to with the Athlon; while it’s still not unmanageable it’s something to take into account when building a system.