What Makes the 600 a 600
The retail heatsink/fan the processor ships with make contact with only the chip itself, and leave the L2 cache chips essentially "uncooled" during normal operation, possibly to deter overclocking and remarking by making sure that the L2 cache works fine at its rated frequency/temperature with as little room for tolerance as possible. It is possible to purchase an OEM Pentium III 600 chip that doesnt ship with the retail heatsink/fan and use a third party cooling solution that does take care of cooling the L2 cache chips if youre that worried.
The Pentium III 600 still operates at the same 2.0v core voltage setting that all processors since the Pentium II 333 have been running at, and generally requires the use of an active cooler (heatsink/fan combo) for proper operation. The only requirements for compatibility are that the motherboard supports the Pentium III processor, and the 100MHz FSB. With the exception of Intels own motherboards, the Pentium III 600 worked fine on all BX motherboards AnandTech tested it on. Most older motherboards without a BIOS update detected the processor as a MMX 26MHz processor but after flashing the BIOS with the latest updates the BIOS reported the correctly identified Pentium III running at 600MHz. As with the Pentium III 550, with the 600, youll most likely need an updated BIOS before you can plug a 600 in.
The Pentium III 600 should work fine in any BX board with an updated BIOS as all BX boards have support for the processors 2.0v core voltage specification. The only problem that may arise is with cheaper BX boards manufactured without the intent of supporting the amount of current the Pentium III 600 draws in mind. Most boards should have no problem supplying the current necessary for the Pentium III 600 to operate within spec however one cant make the generalization about all BX boards, as there are a remote few out there that do boast sub par quality levels.
The main factor that separates the Pentium III 600 from the 550, or even the 500 or 450 parts is the topic of yield, both of the processor itself and the L2 cache. Intels manufacturing process has undoubtedly advanced considerably since the days of the original Pentium, we first truly realized this with the wonderful Celeron 300As that would overclock a full 150MHz to 450MHz frequencies. Intel is constantly improving their manufacturing process and with time, it will get even better, thus making the first differentiating factor between the 600 and previous Pentium III processors, the quality of the yield. From our tests on the first samples of the Pentium III 600 it can be concluded that there is very little, if any, noticeable difference in the quality of the processor yield between the Pentium III 550 and the 600. As the life of the 600 extends this will change, however for now, the Pentium III 600 is essentially a Pentium III 550 with a higher clock multiplier.
The L2 cache of the Pentium III 600 on the other hand is a little more different than that of the Pentium III 550. While both processors generally feature L2 cache that in real world situations can make it beyond 300MHz operating frequencies, the Pentium III 600s L2 cache is guaranteed at 300MHz. This gives the Pentium III 600 a little more tolerance for overclocking although most Pentium III 550 owners that are happily running at 616MHz will argue with the value of such a guarantee.
The Processor Identification Number: Danger or Paranoia?
As mentioned in AnandTechs original Pentium III review and the Pentium III 550 review, the Pentium III is the first processor to boast Intels new processor identification number technology that basically gives your processor an individual identification number which is unique to your processor alone. This number can allow your processor to be tracked down via the Internet for a variety of purposes, and at the same time the number has obviously caused a lot of commotion in the industry.
Motherboard manufacturers have quickly jumped on the bandwagon of supporting the ability to disable the number via their BIOS setup utility, so if the numbers presence is that bothersome to you then you should write your motherboard manufacturer if an update to your BIOS hasnt already been made. At the same time, programmers are saying that there are methods to enable the number even if it is off already. This poses a problem as many believe that the ability for your presence to be tracked on-line is a severe violation of your privacy. Whether the threat of Intels new id system is a dangerous threat or just paranoia on the part of the users, the conclusion of the argument is this: the number is included on Pentium III processors, including the newly release 600MHz parts.
In reality, your final decision shouldnt be swayed by whether or not your processor features a traceable serial number however it can be an influential force in forming your opinion of manufacturers that do boast the technology. In some cases the identification number is actually a security advantage as the data stored on the processor now allows you to run a utility supplied by Intel that will report the proper FSB and clock multiplier settings the CPU was made to run at. What must be pointed out is that there wasnt a dire need for such a drastic move by Intel proving that in some cases, necessity isnt the mother of invention.