the chip is reset.

Power-Saving Features

Mobile users will appreciate the power-saving features built into all Pentiums rated at 75MHz and faster. The fully static 3.3 volt BiCMOS technology allows the processor to sleep and conserve energy while it is idle. The built-in System Management Mode power management technology allows the processor to control various system components for maximum energy savings. Two processor packaging options are available for notebook and subnotebook class machines.

Multi-processor users are well supported. Integrated into the chip is a multiprocessor interrupt controller that will support up to 16 processors for high-end applications. Intel's symmetric multiprocessing model is compatible with operating systems such as Windows NT, OS/2, and new UNIX implementations.

The Pentium requires a good motherboard to reach its full potential. Long term benchmark testing confirms the core logic chip set and L2 cache are crucial to maximum performance. As of this writing, Intel's Triton chip set is the current performance leader. It is targeted at enhancing graphics and multimedia performance in desktop systems.

Unlike its predecessors, the Triton chip set does not support memory parity checking. This is odd because Intel is the motivating force behind the PCI* interface. PCI strongly encourages parity checking and the Pentium itself is heavily parity checked. Intel Tech Support confirmed these details on parity checking and chip set workings. Currently, the Triton chip set data books are available only through non-disclosure agreements.

Intel publications state that parity checking is not necessary for the desktop environment. They support this claim with numerous statistics about memory having a mean-time-before-failure of up to 25 years. Intel took a similar statistical posture with their initial handling of the Pentium math bug. They cited a failure rate of one error out of nine billion possible divides. However, statistics are meaningless when your system has an error. Then, the rate of failure is 100 percent.

The industry's move toward non-parity checked memory is potentially far more hazardous to your data than the math bug. The Pentium could make minuscule errors only in floating point division. However, memory errors can damage any integer math function or address calculation. For example, a single undetected hot bit in a 32-bit memory location could be as devastating as 2+2 = 1,073,741,828. If the same bit becomes involved in an address calculation, the system will fail. When DOS goes out in the weeds, it crashes with a solid lock up. Windows may give a GPF*, if you're lucky. Without error detection, your corrupted data will go undetected.

Other Chip Sets

Intel offers other chip sets targeted at different audiences. The Neptune chip set is a viable option for what Intel Tech Support calls a more robust system. It supports parity checking, very large memory capacity and multiprocessing. Using desktop benchmarks, Neptune is only marginally slower than Triton.

Hot on Intel's heels are new core logic sets from other major vendors. OPTi offers its Viper chip set in both desktop and mobile versions. The Viper is highly tuned core logic with a focus on multimedia enhancements. It also supports memory parity checking. Similar to the Triton, it contains a true 64 bit memory controller supporting Extended Data Out (EDO) memory and pipelined burst cache. The chip set improves system performance by using posted writes to main memory. This frees the CPU* from waiting until the memory cycle completes. Additional enhancements like Plug and Play support, Type F DMA* for fast audio access, and IDE Mode 4* transfer rates are built-in.

Memory components are crucial to system performance. L2 SRAM* caches can be either synchronous (burst) or asynchronous (standard) designs. Pipelined synchronous SRAMs are less expensive than their standard BiCMOS synchronous counterparts. The faster synchronous SRAMs require 9ns ratings to operate with the 66MHz processor bus. Asynchronous types are rated at 15ns. Faster is always more expensive.

EDO DRAM* holds the promise of providing high performance memory without using SRAM. Initial desktop benchmarks show a five to seven percent performance improvement with EDO memory. Once the economies of mass production come into play, EDO memory will become competitively priced.

New Avenues

The latest Pentium technology opens new avenues of productivity. More processing power means less waiting on the machine. With older machines, a full motion video might have to run in a small window at fifteen frames per second. With the new Pentium, it can run full screen at thirty frames per second. Processor-intensive applications like graphics and CAD* will slow down the least when driven by the P133. Intense applications requiring hours to compute on older gear will now finish much faster.

Win96 and other 32-bit operating systems will benefit from the Pentium architecture. The new Windows offering, with five to six times more lines of code than Windows 3.1, can really use the extra power. The PCI bus architecture, with its generous memory support, can give Windows all the memory it wants. As Pentium-aware compilers come into the mainstream, the performance of new software products will improve. Software optimized for the Pentium takes full advantage of its internal structures and runs much faster.

Government buyers and others involved in lengthy bid and evaluation cycles will appreciate the new P133. At the various desktop price points, computer power doubles annually. Last years' high-end machine is mainstream this year, and entry-level next year. Buying the fastest processor protects your investment for the longest time. For the remainder of 1995, the high-end P133 system price-point begins at $2500. The entry-level P75 system price is below $1500.

Mainstream is a very good place to be. Compatibility in today's complex computer environment is mandatory. The Pentium is completely mainstream, extensively tested, and sets the standard others must adhere to. It is shipping in volume and is an exceptional price/performance value. In late 1991, a Dell 486/33 sold for $6199, or $188 per MIP. Today, Dell sells a P90 system for $2099, or $14 per MIP. This thirteenfold reduction in cost-per-MIP occurred in less than four years. The Pentium technology is widely accepted today. The marketplace made the transition from the 486 to the Pentium faster than any previous Intel processor.

Today, the Pentium 133 MHz processor brings a new level of performance to the desktop. Its advanced 0.35 micron fabrication technology will forge the 200+MHz machines of the future. Tomorrow comes quickly, as Intel has already promised the 150 MHz Pentium and the new P6 processor by year end.

The P6 picks up where the Pentium leaves off. Like the Pentium, it is a 133 MHz processor, but it is much more complex. It is constructed from 5.5 million transistors, instead of the 3.3 million used in the P133. The L2 cache is now located on the chip next to the processor. A new, highly optimized data bus feeds data from the L2 cache to the processor at the full processor speed. In the P6, both L1 and L2 caches run at 133 MHz.

Internally, the P6 utilizes Intel's Dynamic Execution technology. The processor analyzes and reorders the program data stream for optimum execution performance. Although the P133 and P6 run at the same clock rate, the P6 is much faster. SPECint92, a standard benchmark used by Intel, rates the P133 at 155.5 and the new P6 at more than 200. Drop one onto your desktop and buckle up. It's going to be one heck of a ride.

Bruce Gavin is a Novell certified Netware Engineer and the owner of CompuDox Onsite Computer Support. You can reach him at 70137,3244@CompuServe.Com or the CompuDox FAX/BBS at (916) 988-0920.



CPU-Central Processing Unit

Generic term for any processor. The Pentium is a CPU.

PCI-Peripheral Component Interface

Intel-designed high-speed expansion bus used in Pentium-based computers. It is similar to, but incompatible with the VESA local bus. PCI runs at 33 MHz and accepts a wide range of video, disk, network and other high performance add-in circuit cards.

TYPE F DMA-Direct Memory Access

PCI bus data transfer between a device and main memory without using the CPU. The Type F standard of 8.33 MB/Sec is faster than standard DMA. A new Type F specification of 13 MB/Sec has been proposed.

GPF-General Protection Fault

A Windows application or Windows itself has attempted to access memory that has not been allocated for it. Caused by hardware or software.

EDO DRAM-Extended Data Out Dynamic Random Access Memory

Variation of standard DRAM that increases memory performance. Motherboard core logic must be designed to support EDO. It is slightly more expensive than standard DRAM.

IDE MODE 4-Intelligent Device Interface

IDE is the generic term for the AT attachment (ATA) disk interface. MODE 4 specifies a burst data transfer rate up to 16.6 MB/Sec.

SRAM-Static Random Access Design

Memory chips that are much faster, larger, and ten times more expensive than standard DRAM. Typical use is a 256 kilobyte motherboard cache.

CAD-Computer Aided Design

Graphics based software programs used for architectural and other high precision layout and design functions.

BiCMOS-Bipolar Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor

Integrated circuit fabrication technology that consumes very little power when idle. Used to reduce chip size and increase on-chip transistor count by creating components smaller than one micron size.