Who wants an Athlon?
In a recent FiringSquad poll, we asked readers to chose between the Athlon and the Pentium 3. Only 26% of those who answered picked the P3 while 70% of the votes went to the Athlon. The remaining 4% went to the mysterious "other." Celeron? K6-3? Cyrix? Winchip? Hamster power
We were surprised by the lead the Athlon had over the Pentium 3. There's no question that the Athlon, clock for clock, is a faster processor than the Pentium 3, but most people are still wary of choosing the Athlon over the Pentium 3. A few of the vendors and manufacturers we've spoken to have indicated that Athlon sales are less than spectacular. While our PC enthusiast audience is ready to accept the Athlon with open arms, mainstream buyers still aren't ready to trust a non-Intel system.
To be honest, we're also wary of the new Athlon systems. Athlons may offer great performance, but you have to get everything working first. We'll let the early adopters flush out all the compatibility bugs before we begin considering the Athlon for our personal systems. There are only a handful of motherboards available, and the fact that some manufacturers are even trying to disavow their own Athlon boards isn't exactly heartening either.
Can Coppermine compete?
That's the question isn't it? Intel doesn't have to worry about AMD for now, but Intel needs to retake the speed throne before AMD is able to fix the small compatibility problems and gain market acceptance. Intel's new Coppermine technology will allow the semiconductor manufacturer to produce faster P3 processors that will hopefully keep them in the race with AMD.
Intel isn't relying solely on Coppermine to bring performance on par with the Athlon. The new 820 and 840 motherboards are also very important. In our Coppermine preview we tested our chip on a normal 810e motherboard with normal SDRAM, and the scores weren't all that impressive. Then again, the 810e chipset wasn't exactly designed for performance.
This time we managed to procure a real Coppermine setup. No, we didn't get some sissy single processor system. We got our hands on a dual Coppermine P3 733 (engineering samples) system with PC800 Rambus memory and an 840 motherboard. Check the ID pics. Read on to find out more about what's new with Coppermine and how the dual system performed in our benchmarks.