The Next Few Months

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Let’s get the easy one out of the way first”

Intel

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Sorry guys, nothing’s happening here. cC0 stepping helps a little, not much. Hitting 1Ghz is still an iffy proposition, but buying an 800 or 850 isn’t going to improve your odds, in fact, they’ll worsen them in most cases. If you don’t know why,
you’d better read up on overclocking PCI devices.

Willamettes? How many of you got one so far?

815EP? Saves you a few bucks, that’s it.

Won’t see any .13 micron PIIIs over the next few months, that’s for sure. DDR motherboards for the PIII will come out, but don’t take them seriously until the FSB on the boards is raised from 133Mhz.

AMD: Horsing Around

The best current TBirds are running into a wall at about 1.2Ghz. Results above that are due to ramming 2 volts or more into the system, or extreme cooling.

Actual 1.2Ghz TBirds are fairly rare, and we suspect this is the reason; AMD just can’t make a lot of them that will run stably at that speed.

So we await the next step: the Palomino.

The horsey is going to get delayed. We may hear about it being introduced very soon, maybe even by the end of this week. Don’t expect to be able to buy one for a few months; AMD doesn’t expect general availability until the end of Q1 2001.

Expect at least the initial incarnation of Palomino to be hot as hell. Don’t expect it to use “cool silicon.”

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read here.)

I read that company’s SEC reports, and they don’t expect to make any money out of this in their current fiscal year (which ends next April), which you would expect if AMD were going to use this right away.

However, they will open a factory making the stuff around next April, so maybe later Palominos will use this.

To DDR or Not to DDR

We should see DDR motherboards begin to become available shortly. The IWill KA-266-R should be the first out of the shoot. Preliminary indications are that the Ali chipset the IWill is based upon runs a bit faster than motherboards using the AMD760 chipset; the latter really needs some tweaking done.

Via will have a mobo out one of these days, but not soon.

However, you aren’t going to run at all if you can’t get DDR RAM for it, and that has become a major pain for the mobo manufacturers. Expect short supply and high prices until February/March.

DDR in and of itself is a questionable upgrade. Upgrading to a Palomino/DDR system is what makes sense. If you got a current AMD system and are thinking about using that chip with a DDR system (and so far, they’ve run fine on such systems), you’re going to lay out about $300 for about a 10% improvement. Not too good from the cost/benefit side.

On the other hand, upgrading to a Palomino you can run at 1.5Ghz or thereabouts along with a DDR upgrade will mean roughly a 40-50% improvement from a typical 900Mhz or thereabouts system for about $500. That makes much more sense.

If you have a seriously aging or decidedly decrepit box, and you have to get a new system or upgrade before February/March, and you plan to upgrade to a Palomino eventually, you’ll pay more than you should, but unless you trade used components well, that will probably be OK. For the moment, buy a cheap Duron to hold you a while.

If you got plenty of PC133 RAM, and don’t want to buy (or can’t find at a reasonable price) DDR RAM, you may be interested in the upcoming KT133A motherboard. These are Via motherboards that aren’t crippled and actually run at 133Mhz. Provided they work, in about a month or so, that will be the preferred choice of motherboard for current Durons/TBirds.

It could also be used down the road
as a bridge mobo if you can afford to buy a Palomino, but not DDR RAM and mobo at the same time, too.

“I’ll buy a TBird now and upgrade to DDR later”

If your purpose is to “rent” the TBird (or better yet Duron) until a suitable Palomino comes around, OK. If you plan on the current TBird you’re going to buy to be a long-term partner with DDR later on, that’s not a wise move.

Remember, current TBirds are hitting that 1.2Ghz wall (and that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed 1.2Ghz, at all). Running them in a DDR system isn’t going to change that.

I expect overclocked Palomino systems to be hitting around 1.5Ghz, maybe better. If at all possible, you’re better off keeping your money in your pocket until you can buy the Palomino and DDR mobo and DDR RAM in one shot.

I’m Not Telling All Of You To Cool Your Jets

If you have an ancient system and cannot stand it anymore, upgrading to 1.1 or 1.2Ghz rather than 1.5Ghz probably won’t strike you as being a great tragedy. I agree; this isn’t really meant for you.

But if you’re running a 700 or 800 or 900Mhz or even 1Ghz system right now, and expect major improvements from any sort of pre-Palomino upgrade in the next couple months, that isn’t going to happen.


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