The new Pentium 3 cB0 stepping CPUs are now starting to appear on the market. What is a stepping, you ask? We talked about steppings in our Overclocking Basics Guide
. A new processor stepping is basically a slightly refined core design implemented to correct minor defects or to improve yields. As you also may remember from our Overclocking Basics Guide, we have been anticipating the release of the new P3 stepping for quite some time.
The cB0 stepping replaces the older cA2 stepping. We asked Intel about the purpose of the new core stepping, and here's the response we received:
The change from cA2 to CB0 was basically a yield enhancement stepping.
That's just what we wanted to hear. The new stepping was implemented to improve processor yields. Now more processors should be able to hit higher speeds.
Search for the cB0
We first heard about cB0 sightings late last month, and we immediately started tracking down a couple processors for testing. Thankfully, one of our hardware vendor contacts had the new cB0 processors. We printed out the latest Intel P3 Specification Update and took a little trip to hand pick a couple CPUs.
We wanted to get a couple P3-650E processors just for the higher multiplier, but they didn't have any of the new SL3XV OEM processors in stock. We went through the vendor's enormous inventory room, checking the s-spec numbers on tray after tray of P3 processors. We noticed that all the faster processors (700MHz+) had the new s-specs, but all of the slower processors were still using the older stepping.
We may just be paranoid, but it seemed as if as if all the new chips are being used to satisfy demand for the higher P3 speed grades. This concerned us because if the demand for high-speed chips is great, then there's a chance that the few low-speed chips that have the new core stepping are actually CPUs that failed the higher speed tests. Nevertheless, we picked up a pair of SL3XU P3-600E chips, and brought them back for a little testing.