Last March the CPU race between Intel and AMD reached an all time high, with both companies breaking the 1GHz (1,000MHz) mark. AMD officially beat Intel to the punch by two days (the Athlon at 1GHz was officially launched on April 6th, 2000 while the 1GHz Pentium III launched on April 8th) with 1GHz processors from both companies only available in systems from computer vendors such as Dell and Gateway.
Since then, AMD has launched its newer "Thunderbird" core featuring full-speed L2 cache while Intel filled a gap in their product line with the Pentium III 850, 866, and 933MHz launch last March and May.
We gave you our first impressions of the Thunderbird processor in our Thunderbird preview, however we didn't have a 1GHz Pentium III to directly compare it against. Until now that is.
Introducing the Pentium III at 1GHz...
Like the Pentium III 933, Intel ships the 1GHz Pentium III with a very high-end heatsink, a feature we really appreciate. Mounted to the heatsink are dual oversized (for Intel at least) fans for additional cooling. While the dual fans can't compete with the Y.S. Tech fans that ship with many retail Alpha heatsinks, they're considerably quieter and perform their task much better than previous Intel fans we've seen in the past.
Side profile of heatsink
Don't start shopping for 1GHz Pentium III's just yet however. For now, 1GHz chips are being produced in limited quantities, with supplies going to system vendors such as Dell and HP. Intel has stated that supplies will increase during the third quarter of this year.
On the other hand, we were able to find a handful of online vendors with 1GHz Athlon's in stock. Chances are these processors aren't based on the newer Thunderbird core we're discussing today; over the next few weeks retailers should begin carrying Slot A and Socket A Thunderbirds at lower clock speeds with higher speed parts still in limited supply.
If you recall our Thunderbird preview, Slot A Thunderbirds weren't originally intended for the retail channel. End users interested in picking up a Thunderbird processor were expected to upgrade to a motherboard with AMD's new Socket A interface. (Effectively making Slot A motherboards obsolete)
For obvious reasons, consumers and motherboard manufacturers alike were not pleased with this decision so AMD has decided to extend their Slot A manufacturing to meet this demand.