The Coppermines are coming!
Yes, Coppermine, the Intel codename for the 0.18 Pentium III processor, is ready to debut in less than two weeks on October 25th. Intel originally planned to ship a 600MHz Coppermine part in September, but better than expected Katmai yields allowed them to squeeze out a 600MHz Pentium III part with the 0.25 process. The Coppermine delay made big news, but it actually wasn't as noteworthy as the recent Rambus-related 820 delay. In fact, Intel already had an 800MHz Coppermine part in August at the Fall 99 Intel Developers Forum.
The 660-672MHz overclocking limit of the P3-600 supports the belief that 600MHz is the most Intel will be able to get out of the 0.25 process. The switch to a smaller 0.18 process will allow Intel to reach much higher speeds. We'll see P3-700(100MHz) and P3-733(133MHz) Coppermine SECC2 processors in the October launch "due to better than expected yields on .18u process technology." We'll also see 550(100MHz) and 500(100MHz) FCPGA Pentium III processors in Intel's Q4 launch.
No copper here…
Let's clear this up right now, the Coppermine doesn't use copper interconnects. Coppermine is only the codename Intel is using for the chip. Intel will still be using aluminum in the new 0.18 micron Coppermine processors. We won't see real copper metallization until Intel moves to a smaller 0.13 process in 2001.
We managed to get up close and personal with a P3-600 FCPGA Coppermine processor engineering sample, and we have the pictures and benchmarks to prove it. Time constraints combined with hardware difficulties prevented us from running our usual battery of benchmarks on the processor but we were able to get a handful of numbers out of the chip. Read on to get the dirt on the new Coppermine design, and find out how it performs against a vanilla P3-600 and Athlon 600!