How the Pentium Moved Cache on Die
There are a number of ways to improve CPU performance, but the majority fall under one of two categories. You can either get a processor that does more, or you can feed it data more quickly; the Pentium III did both.
Whats the Pentium III?
The third major core revision of Intels Pentium line aimed to do three things; it had to fight off resurgent competition from the Athlon, improve performance over the Pentium II, and finally reduce manufacturing costs compared to its predecessor. This was a tall order for one microprocessor, especially when the manufacturer also wanted to retain compatibility with their existing infrastructure:
- Katmai: The first version released was the Katmai core, which came in the same Slot 1 packaging as the PII. It was a drop-in upgrade that worked seamlessly with existing 100 MHz FSB motherboards and added SSE instruction support for improved performance.
- Coppermine: The second core introduced features such as support for the 133 MHz FSB, on-chip L2 cache, and a socketed infrastructure. This both increased performance and reduced packaging cost. Compatibility was maintained through the use of a socket adapter, so you could use these systems in slotted motherboards.
What Do You Look for from Compaq?
When looking at a Compaq machine from this era there are a number of different features to consider. Most systems came with either Windows 98 or Windows ME and feature a CD-ROM or other optical drive such as a DVD-RW. One thing to note is that many Pentium III models do come with less than 1 GB memory. Models like the Presario 7000 and 5000 offered high performance GHz-class processors while the entry level Presario 4000 featured Celeron and Duron processors. Some of the 7000 models even worked as home video studios with the ability to create and edit DVDs built in. Features to look for on one of these systems include:
- System Bus: The 133 MHz front-side bus provides a notable increase in system speed over the 100 MHz bus.
- Processor Speed: When possible. look for a 1 GHz processor for maximum available performance.
- Hard Drive Capacity: Models range from as low as 10 or 15 GB to as high as 160 GB or more.
Choosing a PIII Computer
Whether a desktop or a laptop, the Pentium III offered a high performance option in an era of ever increasing clock speeds and chipset development. Without the parallelism seen in later dual and quad-core processors, the only thing you could do to increase performance was to increase the system speed for single-threaded applications.
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