Chip giant Intel is taking new aim at recapturing lost market share at the low-end of the desktop PC market, industry sources said, by accelerating release dates of its Celeron processor series -- which by mid-1999 could speed to 433MHz from today's 333MHz.
Intel early next month will debut the first Celeron chips in a new 370-pin socket packaging at speeds as high as 366MHz, with a 400MHz version to follow by March and an even faster 433MHz iteration scheduled for introduction late in the second quarter, sources at Taiwan chipset and motherboard makers said.
In next year's second half, Intel's roadmap also includes a Celeron running faster than 433MHz, one source said.
An Intel spokeswoman in Paris confirmed that the 366MHz chip is due out in the first quarter of 1999, the 400MHz is due in the first half of the year and a Celeron chip faster than 400MHz is due in the second half of the year, but she would not comment further.
The new and more aggressive rollout plans come at a time when competitors Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and National Semiconductor's Cyrix subsidiary continue to gain market share -- at Intel's expense.
At least one Taiwan-based motherboard maker, Giga-Byte Technology, has published specifications on its Web site for the its first crop of boards for the 370-pin Celeron processors.
Giga-Byte is offering four different 370-pin Celeron boards, all based on Intel's older 440LX chipset with support for up to 768MB of main memory, and other features such as Universal Serial Bus (USB) and accelerated graphics port video. All four Giga-Byte boards also support Celeron speeds up to 433MHz.
In addition, Giga-Byte is offering a daughter-card solution that lets PC vendors use 370-pin Celeron processors in existing Slot 1 motherboards, thereby offering users an easy upgrade path to full-fledged Pentium II processor cartridges that use the Slot 1 interface.