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Muddle erupts over dual CPU Intel platform

The flipping chips won't play the game

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Confusion and uncertainty from Intel on support for dual-processor configurations for its latest flip chip (FC-PGA) packaging for Pentium IIIs is causing users across the world to suffer from CPU Angst. Posts on the Intel support forum underline the muddle, as the chip company makes a move from the previous slotted SECC2 packaging to a plug-in Socket 370 configuration. One customer posted a message called "Can Intel get its act together?" which claims the firm has delivered conflicting data about dual processing for the flip chip packages. He points to documents posted on Intel's own Web site which are accerbating the confusion, in particular this PDF datasheet and another PDF datasheet here. He says that on the first page it is claimed that the processors enable systems which are scaleable up to two processors. Then, he says, "Under 2.5.1 it says that not all procs are VALIDATED for use in DP systems." This refers customers to another PDF which can be found here to find out which chips are dual processor capable. He adds that this last document contains a large list of processors with footnotes, and only Intel's 500E and 550E, stepping cB0 are listed as not being validated for dual processing. The others seem not to suffer from this condition. Note 12, he says, indicate that processors cannot be used in dual processing systems, but this refers to Intel's latest and greatest Coppermine chip, the Slot 1 based 1GHz part. There is more information on the Pentium III support forum which contradicts this information, he adds, including one which says that Pentium IIIs in FC-PGA packages are not validated in dual processing systems. "If/when we validate them for DP operation, we will note it on the forum and on our support website," a message says. Another message says this: "Currently the Pentium III processor in the FC-PGA package does not support dual-processing. The processor has been hardware disabled for such functionality. Future versions of this processor may include this feature." Meanwhile, another reader who has had trouble with the CC820 (Cape Cod) boxed mobo says that validated slot to key solutions for it do not exist. "This is very practical but completely useless advice," he says. "We overcame this by using Gigabyte's retention mechanism and Gigabyte's 6R7+ slocket - works fine. It's not validated by Intel, but works." But there is more. He confirms that the FC-PGA packaging does not support symmetric multiprocessing. "The CPU must be in the SECC2 (Slot 1) package," he says. "This means that SECCs still will be in demand." That is in despite, in Intel's own words, "a rapid move from Slot 1 (SECC2) packaging to flip-chip (FC-PGA) packaging". The real question then, is when the firm will announce dual processor support for flip chips. ®

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