The Intel Celeron

Date: ca. October 1998

Intel recently launched its celeron class of CPUs targeted at home and small business users in the sub-$1200 market. These chips are available at 266, 300 and 333 Mhz (without overclocking).

The 266 and 300 Mhz Celerons offer baseline performance. They belongs to what would have been the 80686 family and would probably be an SX. Think of it as PII lite, although they outperform the PII in some areas. Technically similar to PII 400+ Mhz in that they use the Deschutes 0.25 micron core, they have no L2 cache. The Celeron 300A and 333 Mhz have the new Mendocino core, which has on-chip L2 cache (128kb).

Deschutes-cored Celeron has very good FPU performance, but adequate office applications performance. Mendocino has much improved office applications performance thanks to the L2 cache. For business apps, there is little diff between Celeron and PII -- after all, you don't really need speed. But try for any kind of multimedia/games, etc and Celeron/Mendocino is neck to neck with all but the very best PIIs -- and that's before one starts overclocking it. Until recently a PII was recommended over Celeron except for the cost factor -- Celeron is cheaper. But with the Mendocino core Celeron has become a serious competitor for the PII.

The major difference between the Deschutes and mendocino cores seems to be the on- chip L2 cache. Intel is the first on the market to put the cache on the same piece of silicon as the cpu core itself. In comparison, the PII's L2 is outside the chip and the Pentium Pro's have their L2 within the chip case but on a separate piece of silicon. Since the cache runs at CPU speed, Mendocino's performance approaches that of a PII at similiar clock speeds.

It is possible to overclock the Deschutes-cored Celerons from 300 to near about 400 MHz. It is the absence of the L2 which allows such radical overclocking. The 300A can be overclocked despite the presence of L2 cache, in which case it is faster than even the PII 450 Mhz. A 333 isn't worth trying to overclock, since it would only go about as fast as an overclcked 300A due to Intel's restriction on the multiplier settings.

Bottom line: Celeron 300A and 333 offer performance comparable to other top Intel chips like the PII at one-half to one-third the price.

Note that these conclusions are based on various benchmarks, which aren't always accurate at predicting a chip's performance in the real world. Based on information from and

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