Why Were Pentium 2’s on Cards? [Byte Size] | Nostalgia Nerd

July 31, 2019 posted by


Last time on Byte Size, we spoke about Level 1 and Level 2 cache on processors up to Pentium specifications. But what about the Pentium Pro, and its cousins, the Pentium 2, the Celeron, and the Xeon chips? Well, let’s find out. With the Pentium Pro, Intel introduced the revolutionary step of making a sort of double sized chip that look like two Pentium chips side-by-side. The second “chip”, however was a 512k L2 memory, a built-in cache RAM. This cache was terrific in that you could talk to the CPU at half of the CPU’s full internal speed. That’s the core processor frequency, not the external bus speed. Motherboards could be designed with even more external cache, and some Pentium Pro systems sold with as much as 1024k of external cache, a mix of built-in L2 cache and some chips on the motherboard. As any chips of the motherboard can only communicate with a processor at the external bus speed rather than the Intel’s speed, you might call that on-motherboard cache a sort of L3 cache. The Pentium Pro has 16k of L1 cache, as did the original Pentium. With the Pentium II, Intel created a larger rectangular package called a Single Edge Cartridge which no longer allows external cache. The Single Edge Contact Cartridge was used at the beginning of the Slot 1 era of the Pentium 2 CPUs. Inside the cartridge, the CPU itself is enclosed in a hybrid plastic and metal case. Previously, with the Pentium Pro, Intel had combined processor and cache dies in the same Socket A package, and these were connected by a full-speed bus resulting in significant performance benefits. Unfortunately, this method required that the two components be bonded together early in the production process before testing was possible. As a result, a single tiny flaw in either die made it necessary to discard the entire assembly, causing a low production yield and high cost. Intel subsequently designed a circuit board where the CPU and cache remained closely integrated, but were mounted on a printed circuit board, and this is where we get the Single Edge Contact Cartridge from. The CPU and cache can be tested separately before final assembly into a package, reducing cost and making the CPU more attractive to market. The result of this is you can’t design a motherboard for a Pentium 2 that contains any cache. The Pentium 2 has a built-in 512k of L2 cache, but that’s it. I mean, a Pentium 2 also has more L1 cache than the Pentium Pro’s 16k of data and 16k of instruction cache, for a total of 32, but that leads to an interesting comparison for the older Pentium Pro versus the Pentium 2. As some of the Pentium Pro motherboards had room for a megabyte of cache, one can benchmark a Pentium Pro at 200 Megahertz, versus a Pentium 2 at 333 Megahertz and the Pentium Pro can actually be faster because it’s got 1024k of cache versus the Pentium 2’s half megabyte of cache. Now the Pentium 2 Xeon chip addresses that problem and offers considerably improved performance for two reasons. But, the Xeon communicates between its built-in L2 cache and its processor at full core processor speeds, a 400 Megahertz Xeon processor talks to its L2 cache at a full 400 Megahertz. Second, the Xeon comes up with 1024k of built-in L2 cache, as you can buy the Xeon in up to 400 megahertz speeds, it’s the ideal Quake platform, or at least it was. But, I haven’t yet mentioned the Celeron. What kind of L2 cache does that come with? None. Yep, that’s right, Intel figured that they could build a cheap Pentium 2 to make it keep Cyrix, AMD, and other competitors from carving out a place on the under $1000 PC market back in the late 90s. I mean, it does have the same 32k of L1 cache as the other Pentium 2 processors, but that is where it ends.

100 Comments

100 Replies to “Why Were Pentium 2’s on Cards? [Byte Size] | Nostalgia Nerd”

  1. Keiya says:

    I liked the slotted CPUs, they felt way more comfortable to install than modern ones.

  2. Thefreakyfreek says:

    ceramic tru hole caps on a moterbord did not know thay ever did that

  3. James Brady says:

    i had the pentium 3E 500mhz on a similar card. lol

  4. Lassigamer says:

    Nobody remembers Core2. Core2 was the successor to the regular socket-based pentium, right? I've owned a Core2 Duo E6850 clocked at 3GHz.

  5. Ali Baker says:

    I'm using a Celeron right now.

  6. BuzzinsPetRock78 says:

    Don't forget the converters! At some point you could buy a blank circuitboard with a socket to place a 'normal' P2/3 on a slot cardridge.
    During this same time, AMD had processors on Slot A, which looked pretty much the same. (although I believe the slot had been around for a while before either intel or amd started using them in consumer pc's)

  7. Atomicskull says:

    They should bring this idea back but for GPUs. Put the GPU on a card with a 256 bit wide buss and have it share motherboard RAM with the CPU. Motherboard RAM is slower so instead of rendering to an external framebuffer they could put a small chunk of on-die memory in the CPU and have it render the scene in tiles. This technology is already mature, it's how AMD's Xbox One GPU works and Microsoft has the DirectX code to manage shared memory between the CPU and GPU already and could just port it to the desktop version of windows. It would also make multi GPU rendering easier and more efficient because you only have to allocate every other tile to a different GPU. A quad channel memory buss would have plenty of bandwidth for this type of shared memory architecture and because there is no longer any memory needed on the graphics card dual GPU cards would probably have a similar cost to a single GPU card with 8 gigs of DDR5 does now.

  8. PrincessTS01 says:

    who wants a celeron 300a

  9. pollisoong says:

    from family member i had a 800mhz P3 slot1, with 320mb 133ram and a geforce 440mx 64mb back in 2003-2006 when i got own computer parts.
    my parents used it until about 2009. after that recycled

  10. Yushatak says:

    I've always wanted to know why they went with a slot design for that generation, thanks for explaining that. I'm curious why they never revisited that form factor, though, if it provided obvious chip testing benefits without any particular downfalls..?

  11. Jackie Selmo says:

    I need 50gb of video ram on my laptop yes 50gb so i can sell it 4 a million ruppies

  12. geoffrey walker says:

    Not ALL pentiumII and III were on slot 1 some were socket 1 forgive me if i forgot the slot numbers exactly it was years ago lol. AMD were slot a and socket a respectively.

  13. L says:

    SECC was brilliant, my DEC pizza box desktop had a cooling tunnel running along the side of it. Wish I'd kept it and not sold it.

  14. warnerww83 says:

    Many fond memories of overclocked celery and voodoo cards. PC building today just doesn't have the same visceral adventure feeling.

  15. Пётр Желтухин says:

    My first computer had Celeron 333 processor in "Slot 1" format… It was pretty big pain in the butt when I decidieded to upgrade the processor in early 2000th. I mean, I already upgraded my RAM from 32 to 256 Mb. And also I had Geforce 2 MX 200 Graphic card but! I couldn't find any processor in my hometown… I hated my neighbor who had brand new Pentium 3.

  16. pnnorton says:

    Is it pronounced cash or kache? .. Always said the former.

  17. George Hilty says:

    huh, i was taught the slot was about heat issues, in a way this actually makes more sense.

  18. Anas Takiyudin says:

    My 1st PC was pentium 3 coppermine. 400 MHz & 64MB RAM. It's quite outdated when my dad got it for me in 2003 but it got the job done and I have a lot of fun with it.

  19. vitoduval says:

    Every 2 or 3 years we got our laptops tech refreshed I wonder what is common now core 7gen i5?

  20. Andrew Connelly says:

    0:56 is my old family laptop it's sitting on my floor in pieces rn

  21. Tyler Costantini says:

    Oh the days of overclocking a 333MHz Celeron to 999MHz!

  22. Lord Publius says:

    Why did Intel, et al. ever stop using these cartridge designs and go back to the traditional chip model?

  23. Rena Kunisaki says:

    I'm surprised huge CPUs with a ton of onboard RAM aren't a thing today.

  24. n0ka says:

    Market is flooded with decent spec laptops which are doomed with a celeron cpu.. so bad. Lots of people buying these 3 to 400 dollar laptops

  25. Proxy says:

    1024kB, you could just say 1MB, same thing
    i could also say that my PC has 24576 MB of RAM, tho it is easier to say 24GB

  26. Rajin Haq says:

    Name the background music…

  27. Shepard says:

    I liked the slot 1 and a cpus. Maybe mainly cause it was weird to mount a cpu that way. Nowadays the downside would be the cooling, or the ability to mount proper coolers onto it. Back in the days the cooling was quite silent and worked nice.

  28. Robert de Bath says:

    Wait! WAT! They couldn't test the two silicon components of the P-PRO individually! You go through all the complexity of putting two dies in one package and you don't get an increased yield! Naaaaa. I'd be more likely to guess that they could test them (and did) but they still had a significant number of integration failures. Perhaps they were being too optimistic about the transmission lines between the two dies so that though the dies were both good they just couldn't talk to each other … that would be really annoying! (and "technically" untestable).

  29. Corporation says:

    Time went so fast 🙁

  30. TK99 says:

    I do wonder, if you guys will ever do one on the Pentium 4 and AMD Athlons, with the stories that people died in the fires they caused. Because the chips, especially the P4 got so hot in normal operation it caused motherboards to ignite. Kinda puts those exploding Laptop batteries in perspective.

  31. D Grossi 1999 says:

    The reason Pentium II and early Pentium III's were slot is because Intel wanted to convince customers to invest in Level 2 Cache by integrating it on the backside bus of the back of the processor cards, so people could see the benefit of it and want it integrated in future processors. Before this L2 or extra cache had to be added to cache sockets and later cache slots that took up valuable space on the motherboards and was slower than integrated L2 as well as still cost you more money except customers were either to lazy or would forget to buy it and wouldn't get to see the benefit of it. Therefore, this was Intel's, later AMD's, and even Cyrix's as well as other Intel processor clones or followers solution to this problem and way of providing better performance in later products. L3 was later integrated for the same reason.

  32. Joseph Wood says:

    I used to work at Intel at that time inspecting those PIII. We got to check thousands a day!

  33. zeryphex says:

    On the same topic of computer modularity, do a google search for Razer's "Project Christine" … and YouTube also has videos of Razer showing it off during some conventions, in the past.
    The CPU module would not be a card, but it is similar in that it is a module that can be swapped in/out.

  34. szt1980 says:

    Early celerons didn't just suck – they blew. As did P4-based ones.

  35. NIK says:

    Any one knows the bgm?

  36. QuadTubeChannel says:

    My friend had a Pentium Pro. I'll never forget seeing it for the first time and thinking 'bloody hell..look at the size of that thing'. A huge slab of gold ready to rock and roll 🙂

  37. PS4sos21 says:

    I wish I had cash.

  38. Mr. SEA says:

    I owned a slotted Celeron 300 that overclocked to 450mhz. This $150 cpu was 5 percent slower than the slotted P3 450mhz that costed $1000…Oh, those exciting gaming days.

  39. morenauer says:

    Also some Athlons

  40. Cyrus Hale says:

    That was the only Intel product I owned, just the CPU; I had it on my shelf. My 'old' laptop is a Intel dell thing needs chucking.

  41. Christ vargas says:

    Took a networking class and they had tons of old hardware sitting around all the switches and routes we had. One of the drawers in the wiring closet had a Pentium 2 card in it. Funny how I would see this video months after I finished the class.

  42. Ariel Eytan says:

    damn… just found one in the trash

  43. Anthony Wilcox says:

    That explains a lot. Glad we moved away from that.

  44. ZZstaff says:

    I had a Pentium Celeron 300A that I easily overclocked to 450. I had one of those CPUs that I had to cover a pin or pins to overclock it. It has been to many years for me to remember everything about it. And, no, my name is not Christine Blasey Ford.

  45. Crzces says:

    I’m refurbing and old p2 slot machine right now (well not this second, but you know what I mean. Unfortunately, it’s the normal p2 slot, not the superior Xeon. That’s alright though, I won’t be taxing it too hard when it’s finished. I may ditch the old case and make it a functional “Picture Frame” box. We’ll see.

  46. J. Manuel says:

    the pentium 2 was super fast. in 1997. my first PC

  47. Pål says:

    I had the 266 Mhz PII.

  48. Neil Roy says:

    Great video. I wondered about this at the time. Great concept.

  49. Dimitris Andreou says:

    Cause they look cool , I mean really cool

  50. Disorder. says:

    Iv'e got one of those for free and i had no clue what was it. So i opened it.

  51. DeusExAstra says:

    Those Celerons with no cache were total crap. I can tell you, caches are one of the things that make the biggest difference in program execution speed. You dont want to be waiting around to get data from RAM if you can avoid it.

  52. Avraham Stern says:

    cool look, lovet that design, still have one card at home <3

  53. TheReedBreed says:

    I have a motherboard that will support both card and regular socket cpus, so it would have to have built in cache

  54. IGnatius T Foobar says:

    The main reason Intel changed the form factor was to keep AMD out of their patented slots. Period.

  55. Toool says:

    Honestly I think it'd be cool if they brought back catridge CPU's,
    but I have no idea what the benefits would be.. better cooling, maybe, no? cause surface area?

  56. Ben Liu says:

    The later celerons (Medocino's) had L2 cache – the differences between the Celeron 300 vs 300"A" where the cache was printed on die with 128kb of L2. It was very good when you overclocked it up to 450Mhz which matched the P2-450's for most gaming operations. These were the golden days of overclocking when they easily got 50% better speeds with enough cooling.

  57. Ashmeed Mohammed says:

    I had a cpu on a card…

  58. Lord_Edge says:

    I still miss the slot era Intel/AMD CPUs, sooo much easier to install and impossible to break haha.

  59. Patrick Radcliffe says:

    I would not be surprised to see a return of edge card CPU package with a water block on each side for cooling. This would also reduce the ammount of condensation the mother board is exposed to.

  60. Nicholas Johnson says:

    I think somebody in the engineering team was a gambling addict and liked slot machines….

  61. nicholas merwarth says:

    I remember these

  62. Youri Khan says:

    And years after, I still automatically translate "Celeron" to "Garbage"

  63. AndrewFortWayne says:

    Brings back memories. 1st owned computer rocked a Pentium Celeron processor running at 400mhz.

  64. Thx1138sober says:

    Even the AMD Athlon's came out on cards back about this same time.

  65. Social Spit says:

    Used to run a Celeron 300-A clocked up to 500-some-odd MHz, that was a good chip for the time. Had to mount the celery onto a card with a socket.

  66. JR Carclay says:

    i still have two of these,one an intel and my other an amd. And they are not cards lol.

  67. Terry Ambrogio says:

    it was so you could have five or six computers and then you only needed one CPU and you could quick change them…

  68. MelodyZE says:

    i still have my slot 1 Pentium ll and Slot 1 pentium 3 c: a few of them actually, and to be honest, they are so much better than the socket version of P3.

  69. eLJaybud says:

    What was the nanoscale of the pentium Pro and the P2?

  70. P Ferreira says:

    Always learning something from this channel.

  71. TOUGH MAN RANDY SAVAGE says:

    What would happen if you had a petabyte of L1 cashe?

  72. Meowstic says:

    I remember having a few P2 cards, and then I found a P3 card.
    Shoved that thing into the case right quick, haha

  73. clayton costello says:

    One thing you say the Celeron was so the could control the sub 100 market but no I remember reading about the Celeron when it came out the Celeron was made because it was a pent 2 who had a flaw in the lv2 cash so like the beginning of video said in stead of losing the who chip they just rebranded it as a Celeron when there was a flaw in the cache

  74. Denuris Turgryn says:

    I had a 3 (450MHz) on card too

  75. p0llenp0ny says:

    Some Pentium IIIs were on cards.

  76. arian Kazemzadeh says:

    Great stuff but could improve the narrative and storytelling

  77. John Doe says:

    why are PIIs on cards? it's all down to cash…. as it was cheaper to put the cache on another die.

  78. brent grubbs says:

    I had a pc that had a pentium 3 on a card, almost like an isa card.

  79. David S says:

    Anyone that had the joy of working on Celeron processors, back in the day, and all the way up until… Wait, they still market Celerons? Really!?

  80. matthew banta says:

    AMD started making slotted CPU's at that time too. At the time we just thought slotted CPU's were the future. We had no idea that CPU's would eventually go back to sockets again.

  81. davidca96 says:

    The best thing was the Celeron 300A, I had one. Easily clocked to 450mhz with 128k ondie cache not slot cache. Back in those days, an overclock over 100mhz was extremely huge without special cooling. That Celeron was quicker at 450mhz than $500 Pentiums so we were quite excited with it back in those days.

  82. // REDACT3D says:

    405 AMD fans right?

  83. James Rosemary says:

    I used to own a Pentium II 300 Mhz. I felt like the proud owner of the only Ferrari in the neighborhood.

  84. KnowBuddyNose says:

    Compaq had made the brilliant decision to mount the card in a position that allowed it to hang from the slot. I cannot count the amount of service calls I went on just to push the processor back into the slot.

  85. SaintKristofer says:

    Is that apostrophe grammatically correct?

  86. Retarded Cosmo says:

    what the hell are "prosessers"? The loif of the woif has ended boi the knoif".

  87. se7vennld says:

    I still have my Pentium 3 (on a card) with W98 and 3dfx card

  88. mrcrtking says:

    Ive got loads of PII and PIII cpus all slot 1, have a working system. Still using a PIII, 550mhz SL3F7 slot 1 cpu in a Microstar MS-6163 mobo, its my server running XP, brilliant for music and video sharing with SCSI U320 adapter and 2 x 1gbps PCI Ethernet cards.

  89. hanrinch says:

    Because it was cheaper to manufacture in pcb than on MCM(aka multi-chip-module) packaging and integrated L2 cache was impossible in 1997 with 350nm fabrication process. It wasn't until coppermine that came with l2 cache on cpu die in 180nm process which was two years later.

    Ps: celeron 300a and k6-iii were using MCM packaging like pentium pro, unlike many source claimed they were on die which it wasn't true.

  90. Goddesses StarTrek Online Fleet says:

    That nice proposition in theory, but probable reality is that the primary driving reason for changing the form factor isn't a technical one, its business strategy in planned obsolescence and market control.

    Changing the form factor from socket to a slot architecure (coupled with an advance in processor design) means everyone is forced to buy completely new equipment and that's a huge business profit when (as is initially true) only Intel had and or was able to licence that form factor.

    It came out at a time when AMD had undermined Intel dominance in the Socket based motherboards by producing cheaper competing chips and Intel needed to regain their business edge. Switching to slot based architecure put AMD back onto the back foot again (at least for a short time)

  91. Tomas T says:

    had a P2 at 450MHz….lol back in 2000…

  92. warrax111 says:

    So why were Pentium 2 on Cards? Can someone explain me it simple? I've watched the video, still don't know the answer.

  93. xenaguy01 says:

    I once had a Celeron III 533 that I ran at 800 by bumping the FSB to 100 and raising the core voltage one jump. It was a screamer!

  94. Kaguya Houraisan says:

    To improve yield rates.

  95. CoolKoon says:

    Actually none of the arguments made in the video sound too convincing for a design that was not only greatly inconvenient but kinda impractical too (due to cooling and other issues). Thus I still think that the sole purpose was the contemporary rumor that this was Intel's attempt to push AMD out of its motherboard designs.

  96. Roos Skywalker says:

    I still have a Pentium II in the attic.

  97. andrewszombie says:

    Xeon Phi PCIe co-processor cards: * monkey looking away meme *

  98. Paul Jamieson says:

    When i got my pentium II, I was able to.play half-life ☺

  99. Big Hoss RC says:

    it was solely to screw AMD and Cyrix

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