Intel previews Slot 2 Pentium II

Now that this week's introduction of the Celeron and Pentium II 350 and 400 is complete, Intel is moving on to the next generation Pentium II microprocessors, the so-called "Slot 2" Pentium II chips. The current generation of Pentium II microprocessors use a "Slot 1" design that houses the CPU in a black plastic cartridge that connects to the motherboard via two rails. The Pentium II 350 and 400 released this week employ the Slot 1 design, which limits the number of processors to two, and limits the speed of the L2 cache to half that of the processor.

The Slot 2 design, however, will offer several enhancements to the existing Pentium II. First of all, Slot 2 Pentium II systems support up to four processors. Because the Slot 2 will support up to 2 MB of L2 cache (current systems are limited to 512KB), the cartridge is almost twice the size of the Slot 1, necessitating some serious case and motherboard design changes. While it's only a little wider, it's more than twice as tall as the Slot 1 design.

For several reasons, Intel will attempt to sell Slot 2 systems as server solutions only, and will price them at a premium. The first Slot 2 processors--which are expected to be 350 and 400 MHz versions--are due later this year. The Slot 1 design, meanwhile, will be updated once or twice more, with a 450 MHz version in July, and perhaps a 500 MHz version by the end of the year. After that, it's all Slot 2, and despite Intel's hopes, the Slot 2 will likely make it downmarket to the desktop sooner rather than later

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