10th October 1999 Archive
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But number of chips means dealing in constantly shifting sand
Intel has managed to meet the deadline for the introduction of its Coppermine processors set by CEO Craig Barrett one month ago, as details of pricing for the parts leak through its distributor and dealer channel. At autumn's Intel Developer Forum, Craig Barrett imposed a geas* on his employees to release Coppermine desktop processors in late October. Earlier in the year, Intel had said the parts would be delayed until November. We can now reveal the dealer prices for the upcoming Coppermine parts, which will be introduced in the week starting October 25. Distributors worldwide are alerting their dealers early, in order to capitalise on the opportunity. Our information comes from two separate dealers (sorry, resellers), both of which would prefer to stay anonymous. The top of the range 733MHz part, a Pentium III with 133MHz front side (FSB) bus which includes 256K of cache and active cooling, will cost $810 when bought in boxes of 10, and $790 if dealers splash out for 100 pieces. It has the exciting designation BX80526U733256E. A 700MHz Pentium III but only using the 100MHz FSB but also with 256K cache and active cooling will cost $785/10, or $770/100. The 667MHz/133 will cost $630/10, or $620/100, while the 650MHz/100 will cost $610/10 or $595/100. These have the same amount of cache and active cooling. Active cooling, an Intel representative says, is a fan. Intel's next step will be to introduce Coppermine parts with larger caches, as it gradually moves to the .18 micron model. At the spring Intel Developer Forum, Pat Gelsinger, a senior VP at the corporation, revealed that by February 2000, his company would have several fabs bashing out the Coppermine technology. The Socket 370 parts, which are 500MHz/100FSB and 550MHz/100FSB units coming with 256K cache and spelling the beginning of the end of slot one, will cost $255/10 and $385/10. Intel will also introduce fast Xeon parts on the same day, it appears. The 733MHz/256 will cost $865 for 10, while the 667MHz will cost $688 for 10. It should be carefully noted that Intel is beginning to push Xeon and the desktop processors far closer together, as it readies future processor debuts. But this part of the complex equation puzzles us. What real difference is there now between Xeons and CuMine desktop chips? We have taken the information from price lists we've seen. It could be an error in the list and we're seeking clarification. We can confirm we have been shown copies of the current Intel price list, which is enough to make the most hardened marketing manager at a PC manufacturer, or a distributor, or a dealer, quiver. At the same time, it will be harder than ever for people buying PCs to figure out the starting price. There are over 90 chips currently in Intel's microprocessor portfolio and this figure will move like a dune in the Sahara Desert as the company introduces new parts and pushes old parts into its Gulag. It is certain there will be price reductions on many existing Pentium III parts as Intel intros Coppermine chips across the range. PC manufacturers do not market desktop or mobile chips as being "Coppermine (.18 micron)" or .25 micron. But many people buying PCs, whether at an individual or at a corporate level, do realise the benefits of .18 micron technology. That makes buying machines in the run up to the holiday season just as tricky as it ever was. ® * Factoid. A geas is an archaic word, now thoroughly up to date because we've used it. It is a bond or a magical injunction, the violation of which leads to misfortune and death. We are informed it was originally an Irish word. See also Nine new PIII flavours revealed Slot 1 close to death as Intel's plans for Coppermine emerge CuMine 7xxx microprocessors confirmed for late October Intel Coppermine -- the facts emerge
Business 10 10:22
Slot-B or no, there's a lot of API technology in AMD's roadmap...
Rumours of the demise of the deal between AMD and Alpha Processor Inc. (API) over Slot-B may have been somewhat exaggerated, according to sources close to the companies. AMD director of product marketing Steve Lapinski seems to have started this particular hare when unveiling the company's first 64-bit chip, "SledgeHammer," but he might just have said a little more than he intended to. "We're not going to pursue the direction of Slot-B," said Lapinski, while adding that API would be one of the main chipset suppliers for SledgeHammer. If this constitutes complete abandonment of Slot-B then it's bad news for API, but equally it's bad news for the AMD-API relationship. Slot-B is a part of API's effort to make commodity components available for system builders, and so AMD support is important to the company. But in terms of co-development the two are already in deep - too deep, probably, for AMD to risk trashing the relationship. For example, although AMD played down the significance of API's involvement in the Lightning Data Transport (LDT) I/O architecture it announced last week, API is actually co-developer of LDT, which obviously means that API and AMD will both be using it. LDT is intended for both I/O and co-processors, so might to some extent be viewed as an alternative to Slot-B. But although there's some apparent overlap (API's UP 2000 board uses Slot-B to house twin Alphas), AMD is still going to need packaging, and Slot-B or a derivative might be a good place to start. API European Business Director Miles Chesney suggests that given the context (Lapinski was essentially talking about the X86-64), he "may not have intended to be quite so definitive about Slot-B." Effectively, says Chesney, Slot-B is a technology that AMD doesn't need yet, but that doesn't mean it won't need it in the future. Equally Chesney can afford to be phlegmatic. API would find it very helpful to have AMD shipping Slot-B, but hasn't been planning on AMD doing so in the immediate future. "At this stage they are not yet ready to address Xeon, or its successors, so they do not need to take a position on packaging large L2 caches. They will need to in the future. When they are ready to compete in the Xeon marketplace they too will need to offer a packaging technology such as Slot-B." AMD did of course also announce a Xeon competitor (AMD unveils Athlon 'Xeon') and positioned LDT as the architecture for connecting multiple paired CPUs in servers. If Chesney's right, then we could probably envisage AMD going for LDT for its high end server architectures, but still finding a role for Slot-B in intermediate and workstation implementations. Slot-B has the advantage that it's already here, whereas LDT and AMD's 'Xeon killer' are scheduled simply for "some time in 2000." So Slot-B could find itself a role in forthcoming Athlon Ultra workstations and servers. Part of the problem, of course, is that the partners are currently heading into crossover territory, with API attempting to broaden its product line at the base, while AMD tries to move upwards. API already has a reasonable high end (which it positions around the base of Compaq's current Alpha offerings), so needs to commoditise. AMD has volume product and - courtesy of Athlon - a fighting chance of grabbing high-spec PC and workstation sales. But it needs to make a dramatic leap to establish credibility in the server arena, which is where LDT comes in. ® See also: API-AMD confirm collaboration
Business 10 15:55