Well, it seems like Intel is very keen to keep the pressure on AMD in the MHz race as it releases its latest Pentium III chip jusy days before AMD's new Athlon processor is set to debut. At 600 MHz this is Intel's fastest chip to date and an impressive development of the existing Katmai 0.25 micron processor design. Intel has pushed this chip to ever higher speeds whilst it waits for it's new Pentium III design in the shape of the 0.18 micron Coppermine processor. 600 MHz was originally meant to be a Coppermine, so where does this leave the new 600 MHz Pentium III?
Pentium III 600, what's there?
The PIII 600 is the latest in the line of "Katmai" processors, meaning that it shares all the same features as existing Pentium III chips running at 450, 500 and 550 MHz. In this we see the same SECC-2 (Single Edge Connector Cartridge) design which allows Intel to mount a 0.25 micron PIII core to 512 kb of 1/2 speed level 2 cache RAM, mounted on the Processor Module. Like all other PIII processors this chip also features a level 1 cache of 32 Kb. The Pentium III 600 uses the 100 MHz bus like its predecessors and will run in current BX chipset motherboards (although a BIOS flash may be necessary for older boards).
The PIII 600 also is the latest processor to feature Intel's new SSE (Streaming SIMD) instructions designed to improve various applications which are heavily dependant upon floating point instructions. This is now beginning to show a performance advantage for Pentium III chips in comparision to SSE-less Celeron chips as applications boasting SSE support are beginning to become more commonplace. This can be seen in benchmarks performed by Sharky extreme, which also highlight's the advantage gained by the Pentium III's 100 MHz bus compared to the Celeron's 66 MHz.
Performance from the PIII 600 is excellent, making it the fastest "x86" processor to date (pre-Athlon), with it both out-performing its 550 MHz counterpart and its little 500 MHz Celeron sibling. What we can't say, is how will this chip fare against the upcoming AMD Athlon and Intel's new Coppermine Pentium III. Both these chips should demonstrated performance advantages over the current generation of "x86" chips. That said, the PIII 600 offers users very solid performance in a tried and tested package (ie, PIII & BX motherboards), and will certainly give offer users a very usable package for some time to come.
Currently the Coppermine is scheduled for a November release, although this may be moved forward especially in light of Intel's volte face over PC-133 SDRAM. When this chip appears, we may well see the 0.25 micron PIII 600 as the stopgap chip it truly is.
Pentium III 600, the verdict.
Well, as the Pentium III 600 is yet another stopgap processor whilst we wait for the delayed Coppermine, we can't give a definitive verdict on it. So as a compromise we will look at different users and say how we feel it will fit their needs.
For system buyers, the PIII 600 offers the ultimate in performance at this moment in time. Bear in mind though, the AMD Athlon and Intel Coppermine are just around the corner and you may be better off to wait for one of these chips to power your PC bearing in mind all the money you would want to spend.
For upgraders, this chip cpuld come in handy for those who currently own a BX chipset motherboard. BX boards were never meant to go above 500 MHz, so an upgrade (for those with PII systems) to 600 MHz without having to buy a new board will be ideal.
For overclockers, well this chip really is at the limit of Intel's 0.25 micron technology and so overclocking will be extremely limited. Sharky Extreme reports that this chip will only overclock to 660 MHz on a 110 MHz bus, which in our opinion is not worth the bother.
That, all in all, is our opinion of the Intel Pentium III 600.
Other Intel Processors at: