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Intel changes core on mobile Coppermines

The reason? Availability... a strange reason

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Chip giant Intel has issued one of its now infamous Product Change Notification (PCN) documents, alerting distributors and system integrators to changes in the core of Pentium III mobile processors which will happen on the 5th of June next. The PCN document, dated 27 April, and numbered #968, tells customers that stepping on the processors, used in notebook PCs, will change from cA2 to cB0. But this stepping change is intended for supplies on boxed microprocessors, suggesting that Intel's larger customers, who buy their chips in trays, are unaffected. And Intel's reason for changing the stepping is the strangest one we've ever seen - lack of availability. The products affected are the mobile Pentium III 450MHz, 500MHz, 600MHz, and 650MHz according to the document. This is what Intel says to the distributors and dealers who will be affected: "In order to increase the availability of boxed mobile Intel Pentium III processors, Intel is introducing a new core stepping: cB0 (current stepping is cA2). "The primary difference between the cA2 and the new cB0 stepping is a CPUID change. The CPUID for the new cB0 stepping is 0683. The processor microcode update utility (rev. 5.13) posted to program.intel.com supports the new cB0 stepping. "First distributor availability of Pentium III processors based on this new core stepping is expected to be early June 2000. Please note that for a period of time, Intel plans to continue shipping mobile Pentium III processors based on the existing core stepping as well. Intel asks that you accept Pentium III processors based on this new core stepping interchangeably with those based on the current core stepping. "Customer Impact of Change and Recommended Action: Since the current (cA2) and new (cB0) steppings of the boxed mobile Intel Pentium III processor can be used interchangeably, no action is required for this change." It appears therefore, that Intel is giving its boxed customers somewhat different treatment than its OEM customers.

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