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Intel under attack at high end

Stepping B is hot, Dutch have AMD problem

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Updated OEMs close to Intel's plans are reporting that its 1GHz Pentium III flip chip microprocessor is suffering from big heat problems which are being addressed with a fresh stepping of the part.

The news comes only 36 hours after Intel pulled the plug on its 1.13GHz Pentium III, which is currently at stepping cC0.

Meanwhile, system integrators in Europe are having difficulties sourcing high end microprocessors from both AMD and Intel, we can report.

According to the PC vendors, there has been no production delivery of Pentium III 1GHz flip chips for around three weeks.

The current stepping of the Pentium III 1GHz is B1, but Intel engineers have told their PC vendors that stepping C would eliminate heat problems they have encountered with the microprocessor.

This news also throws light on the 1GHz situation in the distributor-dealer channel. Although 1GHz FC-PGA microprocessors are listed, dealers are unable to obtain the part.

But it seems that it's not only Intel which is finding it difficult to supply high end processors. According to system integrators in the Netherlands, it is hard to find clock high speeds for Thunderbirds too.

One source said: "At www.norrod.nl it seems that the highest clocked AMD Thunderbird available is 900MHz and for Intel it would be 866MHz. AMD should wait until October with their 1.2GHz launch until they can produce enough 1GHz/1.1GHz parts. The same story for Intel here."

This situation may be peculiar to The Netherlands only. One reader said: "The fastest AMD procesor you can buy (stand alone) in the Netherlands is the Thunderbird 950Mhz. I found it here. A 1GHz is indeed harder to find, but then again we're used to get the best things when the rest of the world already has it."

Another Dutch reader commented: "I'd like to point out in reference to your article that unavailability of GHz Athlons in The Netherlands is in no way an indication of delivery problems with that part. As a long time inhabitant of The Netherlands, I can attest to the fact that all high end hardware devices take absolutely forever to filter their way down into the Dutch channel. This has always been the case, and we're used to it by now. We expect the GHz Athlons to become available before the end of the decade, and at a price point that would put Intel's overpriced bits to shame. Like I said, we're used to it."

Not like Akihabara in Japan, then, nor like Finland, Sweden or Germany, where readers report there are plenteous quantities of 1GHz Athlons.

Marco Fumagalli, who compiles Spot Register for us, notes: "AMD 1Gb parts are available both in Europe and US. The quantities in stock are limited, usually to 20 or 50 pieces, but so is the demand. Prices for kits are around $500. The K7 900 Thunderbird is really selling well and at $270 it's definitely a great price. There are some random shortages on entry level Slot A parts, such as the 700MHz and 750MHz."

One North American dealer, who declined to be named, said he had no difficulties getting hold of AMD parts over the last month, but, he added, 1GHz Pentium III chips have never (his italics) shown up as available on either Tech Data or Ingram Micro.

Intel and AMD were unavailable for comment at press time. ®

  • Tests on our own flip chip 1GHz PIII do not reveal any overheating problems adds Andrew Thomas. Equipped with a Quiet PC radial cooler, no part of the CPU or heatsink has ever become even warm to the touch.

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