Cheap PCs get faster Celeron processor

Intel Corp. increased the clock speed of its top processor for the low-cost PCs Wednesday with the introduction of a 2.0GHz Celeron processor.

All major hardware vendors use Celeron chips in low-cost PCs, which are generally understood to be those costing under $1,000. These Celeron chips offer less performance than Intel's top-of-the-line Pentium 4 chips, but cost far less. The 2.0GHz Celeron will cost US$103 in 1,000-unit quantities, while the slowest Pentium 4 still sold by Intel, at 2.2GHz, costs $193 in 1,000-unit quantities.

But the performance gap between the fastest Celeron and the slowest Pentium 4 is relatively small, said Peter Glaskowsky, editor in chief of the Microprocessor Report, based in San Jose, California. End users have to weigh whether the Pentium 4's extra performance is worth the several hundred extra dollars that a Pentium 4 chip adds to the retail price of a PC, he said.

Intel will make this Celeron processor on its .13-micron process, which makes it a more affordable chip for Intel to manufacture, since it is based on the same core as the Pentium 4, Glaskowsky said. The next-fastest Celeron chip, at 1.8GHz, is made on Intel's .18-micron process.

Part of the L2 cache from the Pentium 4 core is disabled to reduce the performance of the Celerons, so Intel doesn't have to design a whole separate core for its value processors, he said.

Intel, based in Santa Clara, California, has continued to focus on the market for low-cost PCs, while rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has gone the opposite route, announcing earlier this year it will phase out its low-cost Duron processors by 2003. "To users who are buying low-end PCs, the performance difference between high-end Celerons and high-end Durons will not be significant," Glaskowsky said.

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