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Intel 1100MHz ‘Athlon killer’ to launch in December? Hmm..
...crazy speculation or big grain of truth?
Before we launch into this one below, we'd better say what we know about Willamette already. We know, from a highly reliable source, that Intel is going flat out to demo the silicon with a date at the end of January. We know that Intel was originally supposed to introduce it in 1998. We know that Intel is now saying 2000 and 2001. It's also worth referring back to this piece, which also came from a highly reliable source - Hard facts emerge about Willamette. So the following has to be placed in that context. There may be more than a grain of truth in it, but other information we've received since this story was filed suggests Intel just can't do it yet. It can do a Coppermine 800MHz real soon now, as we have reported. And when it revs Willamette, the first is likely to be at 800MHz. Another source we can rely on tells The Register that Willamette silicon won't sample until early next year and that Tehema, the chipset for Willamette, isn't yet complete. It is true that Intel knows in its heart (what heart, Ed) that Coppermine just can't cut it in the race against Athlon, so Chipzilla has a little surprise up its sleeve - the next generation of IA32 processor, codenamed Willamette, could be here a staggering nine months early. One US source says the chip will have a paper launch at the end of December, with product in the shops two months later, although if AMD keeps up the pressure it could be even sooner. If true, this two month gap is to enable OEMs to shift bucketloads of Coppermine systems before they're rendered unsaleable by the new super chip. We now think the 800MHz rev will be the first, while Intel may be able to ramp that up by June. Coppermine arrives next week, but still uses the venerable P6 core that first saw the light of day in the Pentium Pro, albeit at a dinky 0.18 micron process, coupled with on die level 2 cache. It'll be faster than existing Pentium IIIs, but not earth-shatteringly so. Now with Athlon starting to win the hearts and minds battle, and still wincing from the Camino chipset cockup, the chip behemoth - still smarting from Chimpzilla's new found ability to deliver silicon rather than hot air - desperately needs to do something impressive - and fast. Intel's been quietly shipping 0.18 micron mobile processors for the best part of six months, but even so, bringing Willamette so far forward is pretty impressive stuff. If that's so... The entirely new 0.18 micron Willamette was originally scheduled to arrive around Q3 2000 at 1100MHz with more than 1MB integrated level 2 cache and Intel performance estimates say it will score around 50 on Winstone98 and 43 on SpecInt95. Although following the FTC investigation, Chipzilla is supposedly under strict orders to avoid using 'aggressive' terminology in internal communications, it is reported that Willamette is being referred to as 'The Athlon Killer' by Intel insiders. Presumably this is toned down in written communication to 'Cute, cuddly and totally unthreatening'. Have thoughts about the story as it stands? Pete Sherriff can be contacted here. ® Related stories Major Intel roadmaps ahead: please keep left Intel pulls into fast lane as workstation plans unfold Intel'sh Cashcades to cash in on cache inside 1GHz Athlon to arrive 10 Jan 2000