A stepping is a revision of silicon - to be more precise it refers to a change to the mask used to manufacture the chip. This change can for any number of different reasons: to improve bin split (frequency), to fix errata (ie. bugs), to improve yield, to solve an electrical issue and other misc. reasons.
Intel defines steppings in two forms. A letter change is a change to the complete set of masks. A number change only refers to a subset of the masks. So, A1 -> A2 is a change to just a few layers (usually metal), while B0 -> C0 is a change to all layers.
Certain stepping also may overclock better than others, and example of this the AXIA Y stepping found on Amd Athlons. This stepping enabled many users with an unlocked processor to achieve amazing speeds, and average overclock of 40% was found!
by BrushedTooth edited by FastEddie
last modified: 2004-02-07 12:30:16