- Pentium II Xeon

- Katmai (Pentium III)

- Favor

- Conclusions

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Juan Herrerías Rey

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Xeon, Katmai and Favor: the future of the Intel-PC


To say that the world of the PC moves at a frenzied speed is not but to stress an obvious fact; but when we affirm the same of the underworld (or perhaps the underworld) of the microprocessors, the obvious thing it transforms in painful.

How many do we buy a flaming one (and expensive) 486 to discover at the age of two or three that was a museum piece? And the vigorous buyers of Pentium and Pentium MMX that see now how Pentium II double or treble his speed? For not speaking about those that famous persons Pentium bought at golden price one of sadly to 60 and 66 MHz, only to discover that they had miscalculations, they warmed up like demons and his motherboard was not compatible with other mikes Pentium...

Since now when Pentium II has be one year, the masters of Intel have decided that it is already time to begin renewing the market, do not be going to be that the people get accustomed to so many calmness, and they have done it announcing the mikes Xeon, Katmai (Pentium III) and Favor (between others!!).

Pentium II Xeon

The first one of the newest mikes Intel is already on the market from the last June. It is a question of a microprocessor based on the scheme of Pentium II, but with capacities extended for his use in servants of network. His cache memory of the second level is more rapid and major than that of Pentium II (it goes at the same speed as the mike instead of to the half and they are up to 2 MB opposite to 512 Kb) and it can direccionar enormous memory quantities, theoretically up to 64 GB, in addition to being able to use in configurations with up to 8 mikes Xeon.

Intel has decided that a new mike needs a new hearth, so it has provided him with a socket called Slot 2, which of course is incompatible with the Slot 1 of the very same Intel (the socket of Pentium II). And since it is a recent custom in Intel, nothing of licensing the new plug to the competition (AMD and Cyrix); it seems that they do not take very seriously the demands for monopoly of the government of the USA...

Fortunately, nobody has to throw his new Pentium II and run to buy a Xeon, at least for the time being. The Xeon is destined exclusively to his use in servants and workstations, up to the point of which in immense most of the normal applications his yield is indistinguishable of that of a Pentium II of the same speed of clock (that certainly is also the same one that that of the AMD K6-2, much cheaper and better for 3D...); anyway: how many can allow themselves a computer which mike costs more than 1.000 dollars (only the mike!!)?

Katmai (Pentium III)

It is an interesting chip; do the Pentium and the Pentium MMX remember? Since Katmai is a "Pentium II MMX2". It goes seriously, hear. Intel has seen that that thing about the technology 3D is a good business and she has decided to create a mike in which to incorporate a few new logical instructions that promote the operations 3D, as the MMX promotes the multimedia operations.

It turns out to be curious that in this case Intel it has lost the initiative opposite to his competition; AMD has had the same idea, only that half a year earlier. The equivalent AMD instructions are named 3DNow! and there are one of the innovations of the K6-2, which earlier was called K6-3D (what in my opinion was a better name, but there his marketing "experts"). The AMD chip is on the market from June, while Katmai de Intel is waited by the beginning of 1.999.

The Katmai will settle in sockets Slot 1, but we will need to have a badge ZX or BX and an updated BIOS, in addition to memory PC 100... supposing that let's want to update us, because, to tell truth, the yield increase opposite to Pentium II does not seem that it is going to be great (as it it was not that of the Pentium MMX opposite to the classic Pentium), except perhaps with very optimized software.

On Katmai some doubts stay still, although few ones: the initial number of MHz (perhaps 450?), the definitive name of the instructions for 3D (MMX2, KNI-Katmai New Instructions, "new instructions of the Katmai"; what an original! - or something different as MMX-3D?) and others about which I will inform them punctually (or with a small delay, already we will see) in the next months.


This mike tries to be the revolution Intel of the XXIst century. It is a question of the first mike Intel of 64 bits for PC, what is supposed will increase enough the yield of the computer opposite to the mikes of 32 bits that we have used in the last years (386, 486 and the diverse Pentium). Intel is collaborating in the creation of this chip with Hewlett Packard, company that has enough experience in mikes of 64 bits for workstations.

The irruption of a mike of 64 bits will need new software of 64 bits to make use of his yield, although it is supposed that the Favor will be compatible with the software for compatible PCs Intel (the writing in "code 80x86"), or at least with that of 32 bits (the code IA32). Intel is defining at present the new code of 64 bits, which it names IA64 (Architecture Intel of 64 bits). The candidates to realize an operating system for so flaming micro sound the habitual collaborator of Intel, Microsoft (how not!), and proper Hewlett Packard, enough expert in software UNIX.

Any way the Favor future (and that of the same Intel) is not clear at all. The market of 64 bits is an area not known for Intel, reason for which it has realized his approach to Hewlett Packard, something not current at all in the devouring chips manufacturer. Also, it is a question of a market with many marks firmly established (Digitalis with his Alpha to 600 MHz and 600 more, with his PowerPC and others as the same HP), apart from being a market with an enormous inertia and loyalty to the elected marks, what is not rare bearing in mind the high price of these systems.

What it is more, it is not sure either that the bought PC needs still a jump to 64 bits. The yield of the chips of 32 more modern bits as Pentium II is very satisfactory for most of the users, who would not be very ready to pay a considerable money quantity for a chip that not only they do not need for his normal applications, but also it would force them to change his software to obtain any real benefit.


Before this one whirlpool of new announcements, the fatidical question will be risen: then: will my flaming Pentium II to 400 MHz be desfasado in less than one year? Since... the fatidical answer is: YES, but: should it worry? NO.

As soon as 1.999 begins and there appears the Katmai, "classic" Pentium II (?) there will be a history, after less than two years of existence. Undoubtedly they will disappear, without importing if it is reasonable or simply necessarily. But in my opinion, we have come to a point in the history of the PC in which many people do not have porqué to renew his computer whenever a new mike appears.

If you work with office computerization programs, Internet or applications of accounting or graphic design 2D, a current Pentium II is more than sufficient for you. Another thing will be if it works with professional software of 3D, if he needs a workstation or a servant or if he is a fanatic of the games; in these cases, whenever it appears a new mike will have to worry about looking for the money to buy it, undoubtedly.

The problem is not that Intel (and AMD, Cyrix, IBM and others) bombards us with new mikes every a few months; after all his business is not to help him, but to sell him chips. What must have clear sound his needs, and there does not turn dragged by the publicity, the eslógans and his neighbor that of the modern super computer - potente-novísimo.

After all, it even does very little I have usually worked with an AMD 486 to 120 MHz without any safe problem to play Quake, and I realize this text in Windows 3.1 with 386 to 33 MHz, the same one with which I it am going to raise to my web in Internet thanks to a program for TWO that there would work even in the IBM original PC of more than 15 years ago. New mikes? Yes, thank you, but when you want... and need it.


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