Pentium III 1.13 GHz Bottom Line ... For Now
Basically I consider Intel's response as well as actions as rather unsatisfactory. Here are my thoughts to the 1.13 GHz situation:
- I have yet to see a Pentium III 1.13 GHz that would be able to pass the Linux kernel compilation that I am using for processor evaluations. This compilation is using gcc 2.95.2 , compiling an average kernel to a size of 572 kB. All other x86-processors that I have on all other platforms are able to pass this test. Only some overclocked processors happen to fail it as well. It is a very good test for overclocking stability. For the ones of you who are unfamiliar with Linux kernel compilations I'd like to give a very brief explanation. Linux is a GNU open source project and therefore all software, including the operating system itself, comes in form of source code. To make a program out of source code you need to compile the code with a compiler. The kernel of Linux is 'monolithic', which means that it is one piece of software (that can load additional modules as well, but that's a different story). To customize your Linux installation to your own needs you modify the kernel's make files and compile the kernel. This way you produce a kernel that meets your requirements without wasting system resources or performance on unnecessary stuff. This situation makes Linux able to even run on tiny systems, as e.g. hand-held computers. Imagine you'd try to run Windows2000 on one of those ...
- Intel's VC820 motherboard happened to be indeed the most stable platform for my flaky 1.13 GHz Pentium III sample. Still I was unable to finish a complete run of Sysmark2000 or the above mentioned kernel compilation on it. In further tests I found out that Intel's special VC820 is 'tuned' for mediocre performance. A Pentium III 1 GHz on the VC820 runs significantly slower than on a comparable Asus P3C-L i820 motherboard. Therefore it seems that Intel modified the BIOS of the special VC820 for very low performance to 'buffer' the instabilities of the Pentium III at 1.13 GHz. As a result most shipping 1.13 GHz systems will hardly be much faster than a properly adjusted 1 GHz Pentium III system, because the majority, if not all, of those systems is equipped with this very Intel VC820 motherboard.
- The fact that all three 1.13 GHz Pentium III samples (Kyle's, Anand's and mine) acted in the Linux compilation test as if they were overclocked processors combined with Intel's comment that these CPUs need massive cooling solutions leads to the simple conclusion that this processor is indeed nothing else than an overclocked CPU, only certified by Intel. Let's be honest, when it comes to overclocking of Intel processors, who would be more experienced than Intel? Intel did all the well-known things: Raising the core voltage (1.7 V to 1.8 V), hefty cooling, lowering of the temperature spec, slow BIOS settings. Doesn't that sound familiar? Maybe we should ask Intel to publish their very own Overclocker's Guide. I bet it will be a huge success!