New Intel Celerons to battle AMD's Spitfire

New Intel Celerons to battle AMD's Spitfire

Intel will today launch faster versions of its desktop Celeron processor that feature a performance-boosting technology previously only available with its higher-end Pentium III processors, company officials said.

The new Celerons should help Intel compete with a new line of processors due mid-year from rival chip maker Advanced Micro Devices. Like the Celeron, AMD's new chip -- codenamed Spitfire -- will also target the sub-$US1000 PC market.

The new Celerons launched today will run at 566MHz and 600MHz, Intel officials said. They will be the first Celerons to include Intel's internet SSE (streaming SIMD extensions), a set of processor instructions designed to boost the performance of multimedia and internet applications.

"What you're going to see is a significant boost in performance over our existing Celeron products, even compared with the 533MHz Celeron," Jeff McRea, director of marketing for Intel's desktop products group, said in a phone interview this week.

The 600MHz Celeron will offer a performance premium of between 10 and 53 per cent over the existing 533MHz Celeron, depending on the type of software application being run, McRea said.

Like previous Celerons, the new chips will use a 66MHz system bus and include 128KB of Level 2 cache memory.

Meanwhile, AMD's Spitfire is based on the same processor core as the company's high-end Athlon processor, AMD spokesman Drew Prairie said yesterday. The chips are expected to carry the same 128KB Level 2 cache as the Celeron, and also include AMD's 3DNow instruction set, an approximate equivalent to Intel's SSE.

AMD's Spitfire will support a faster 200MHz system bus. The bus is a data conduit that affects how quickly a processor can exchange information with other components in a PC.

AMD won't talk about clock speeds for Spitfire, although the AMD spokesman said the company expects to keep pace with Intel's fastest Celerons. Intel has said it plans to crank up the speed of its Celerons another couple of notches before June.

In 1000-unit quantities, the Intel Celeron processors at 566MHz and 600MHz are priced at $US167 and $US181, respectively. The chips are also the first Celerons from Intel available in its FC-PGA (flip-chip pin grid array) packaging.

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