Intel's New Weapon: The Coppermine

Stress Creates Mistakes

A lot more happened behind the scenes. While the guys in chipset sales were instructed to make motherboard makers feel a bit queasy about producing Athlon-platforms, the engineers were pushed to give 200%. The first reaction was the early release of Pentium III 600, a CPU that acted unstable in the very beginning, but that was saved by one of Intel's many microcode-updates (which always decrease performance a bit, but who would care about that?), so that the majority of users never noticed it. Then the development of the next processor in Intel's long roadmap was pushed. This product by the code name 'Coppermine' was released today and we'll hear a lot more about it later. However, the release of Coppermine was supposed to be a lot earlier. Coppermine and the infamous 'Camino'- or i820-chipset were meant to be introduced on September 5, 1999. Unfortunately the engineers weren't quite able to sustain the stress that was put onto them. Used to making products that were way ahead of the competition at the time of their release, they now had to face a situation where they had to catch up with this bold competitor AMD and its Athlon. This resulted into making mistakes. Coppermine's release was pushed to October 25, 1999 and nobody really knows if and when i820 will ever see it's official launch-day.

No I820-Release, But I820-Benchmark Data ... ?

Now we've finally reached the introduction of 'Coppermine' and you will see that Intel's processor-engineers did rather respectable work. Everything would be fine for Intel, if there wasn't the delay of i820. This chipset by the code name of 'Camino' should have provided the platform for the new 'Coppermine'-CPU. Coppermine runs at 133 MHz front side bus clock and has a lot more great features. Intel's history was always to supply a new advanced platform for a new advanced processor. This time Intel is in rather bad shape. i820 might be released (hopefully?) sometimes by the end of this quarter and until then you'll either have to plug this high-end and high-cost CPU into a low-end / low-cost platform with the i810e-chipset or you'll have to choose a platform based on the Apollo Pro133+-chipset from Intel's Taiwanese 'enemy' VIA. Intel is hurting so badly that they did something they've never done before. In the official Coppermine presentation you'll find benchmark-data of Coppermine-CPUs scored on a yet unreleased i820-platform! That's rather ridiculous, because Intel was the number one company that got upset if any of their competitors used anything unreleased in their benchmarks and marketing documents. Now they did it themselves because they didn't have another choice. How would it look if Intel provided Coppermine-performance-data based on the mediocre i810e-platform? It's rather obvious that nobody would be impressed. The alternative would have been to market VIA's Apollo Pro 133+-chipset in their presentations by showing Coppermine-numbers produced on platforms with this chipset. All that was unacceptable to the guys in Intel's management, so that they decided to simply 'bend the rules' a little bit and promise their OEM's that 'eventually i820 will be available'. "Just be a little bit patient! After all we are almighty Intel and you better take us for real!"

So far about the policy-background of Intel's new Coppermine-processor, let's now get down to the technical side.