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Intel claims volume 1GHz on Coppermine RSN™

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Peter Green, design manager of the logic design group at Intel in the US is, as you read this, delivering a technical paper at the Solid State conference demonstrating how 1GHz can be delivered on the existing Coppermine Pentium III core. He is telling the delegates that Intel has succeeded in producing the chip using existing aluminium interconnects, but confirmed today the process is much simpler if you use copper. Copper will not be used as the interconnect until 2001. Green described Intel's breakthrough as a "holistic approach", while other personnel said that 1GHz chips using the notched poly approach will be on the market very soon, although they declined to give an exact date. "You have a transistor budget that allows the scaling of voltage to reduce power in the design," said Green. "Smaller dimensions translate to higher core performance." Plus, said Green, Intel had overcome an architectural bottleneck in its re-fresh of the Coppermine design -- which will still have a 256K level two cache. "This hungry beast needs to be fed," he said. "We've made substantive changes to the buffer sizes from one entry to four entries. The end result is we can get all the benefit of level two cache on the front side bus. The bottom line is we've optimised this architecture...to give the best possible performance for the Pentium III and so that we scale to very high frequencies." He confirmed that Intel had used the same notched poly design on its .18 micron process on the 800MHz part it announced last century. But, he added: "This is not just marketing hype, it's tangible performance." The whole aluminium design had to be rerouted through the six layer aluminium layer, he said. "You need to make sure that your design is optimised," he said. "It's very easy to optimise incorrectly and to a point where you're limited by interconnect delays." He said: "We believe we've done this without using any compression by using aluminium -- the engineering factor was barely insubstantial. The key features of this process are in generating very thin gate dialectrics, and they've done it again -- I'm not quite sure how they [Intel] have done it." In short, he said, the transistor technology enables us to have a manufacturing design in the gigahertz domain. "The result is a synergy of three engineering disciplines", he added. "This is a very provable aluminium technology with good yields," he said. "We will have a 1GHz design and it will manufacture. This will ship in volume this year." The slides show that Intel has managed to make an 800MHz Pentium III Coppermine procesor that only consumes 26 watts. Hence, maybe not so many fans. The slides also show "estimated" SPECfp scaling, and that the 1GHz Coppermine will achieve a 1.20 percent improvement over published figures for the 733MHz CuMine part. There are "no kinks in performance scaling", the figures show. The, again estimated, SPECint figures show the same figure. Other slides show that Intel has managed to use the same aluminium design interconnect simulated at over 200MHz the targeted frequency. Further, Intel claims: "There is no performance compromise for using proven Aluminum (sic) interconnect". He said: "I don't want to knock copper. If we had used copper it would have been a little bit easier but in manufacturing terms we can do this with aluminium." Intel has succeeded in its shortfall with supplying 733MHz and 800MHz parts, company representatives claimed. The representatives said: "We've been in quite tight supply and we're doing the best we can to ramp up demand. Demand is still at the same level as it was at the end of Q1. We met all of our committments in Q4, but going into Q1 the demand was quite high and there's pressure on us to ramp up." Willamette will use the same .18 micron (Coppermine) process technology with aluminium, but with "a slightly different core", Intel said. Willamette is also likely to use notched technology, it transpired. Speculating wrongly, as we did, when we first reported today's announcement on the 24 November last, we presumed this would be some type of Willamette. Now we know differently. Sorry. At least we got the story first. ® *RSN may be a trademark of Situation Publishing Limited, but stands for real soon now.™ Race to 1GHz bad for end users Big Blue boffins to unveil 4.5GHz breakthrough Willamette is Intel's favourite Petzilla Intel to demo 1GHz IA-32 February 2000

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