You cant buy a reliable car without mortgaging an arm and a leg, you cant live in a world without war, and you cant know the straight facts on what processor is right for you. Hummed to the tune of Bruce Hornsbys most remembered song, there are a number of users out there that see the multitude of Intel processors hitting the market yet are never told what path they should take, other than the famous six word solution, Thats Just the Way it is.

Apparently some things will indeed never change, as Intel grows larger by the day, there will always be supporters as well as adamant haters of the undoubtedly successful microprocessor giant. If you ask an extreme Intel supporter what the best processor for you to buy is, the answer would most likely be the outrageously priced Pentium III 500; and if you were to ask an alternative-CPU advocate the same question, their response would probably be centered around "screw Intel and buy a K6-3."

There are those that take the microprocessor industry a bit less personally, however, just as everyone wants to be a part of the best team in the league, no one wants to support a failing microprocessor company. Making an honest suggestion as to which processor is right for you often times ends up a question of whether or not the person you are asking is biased towards one company or another. Unfortunately, thats just the way it is.

Assuming, for one reason or another, youve decided to go with an Intel processor, what is there to choose? For a large percentage of the population, Intel has happened to create one spectacular processor, not in terms of its performance or stability, rather its price, inspired wholly in part by increasing competition from alternative-CPU manufacturer, AMD. As most AnandTech readers already know, this unnamed processor is none other than the Celeron. With the Celerons clock speeds now passing the 400MHz with the newly released 433MHz part, which members of the family are the best contenders for a processor that provides the best price to performance ratio? Well, there are currently 7 clock speeds at which the Intel Celeron processor is currently sold at, which one is right for you? AnandTechs law of winners says that there can be only one, and since you cant buy every single processor out there, your personal law of winners should agree as well, so which processor will it be? The cacheless Celeron 266 or the latest Celeron 433? Lets find out

The Two Flavors of Celery

Understanding the fundamentals of Intels Celeron processor requires that you understand Intels "need" for the Celeron line of CPUs. Facing intense pressure from rising microprocessor manufacturer, AMD, Intel had limited options left in making sure that the market did not slip through their fingers into the hands of their competitors. celeron-2.jpg (7741 bytes)
In order to prevent the seemingly inevitable from happening, as their flagship processor at the time, the Pentium II, was out of the reach of many users on tight budgets, Intel opted to decrease their profit margin and release a lower cost version of their flagship processor.
Intel used extremely powerful business tactics to make sure that their latest low-cost concoction, dubbed the Celeron, would be the chosen solution over anything AMD would offer. Their approach was so extreme that it was said that the Celeron yielded a profit at least 4 times smaller than that of a single Intel Xeon processor, which retails between $800 and $3000 depending on the type. It was obvious that Intel wasnt making a killing off of the Celeron processors, but in order to remain one step ahead of the competition, Intel needed to release higher clock speed Celeron processors at a rate previously unheard of in the industry. When AMD hit 450MHz, Intel wanted to be past the 500MHz mark, and when AMD hit 500MHz, Intel wanted to be a great distance from them at that point as well. ppga.gif (45662 bytes)

Somewhere along the line Intel realized that in order for their Celeron to remain as competitive, price-wise, as they had hoped it to be some sort of cost reduction would have to be implemented on the manufacturing of the processor. It was this realization that forced Intel to move away from the Slot-1 interface of the original Celeron processors back towards a more cost effective socket interface. This created the two flavors of Intels Celeron, the new Plastic Pin Grid Array (PPGA) Socket-370 Celeron and the older Single Edge Processor Package (SEPP) Slot-1 Celeron. To date, every single Celeron with on-chip L2 cache is available in both PPGA and SEPP versions, including Intels latest 433MHz model. Due to pressure from Intel to push the Socket-370 platform, you can expect the supply of SEPP Celerons to dry out in the coming months, being replaced by the abundant supply of PPGA units, at increasingly higher clock speeds.

The PPGA Celerons are finally, after a couple of months, being sold at noticeably cheaper prices than their SEPP counterparts, which is a definite benefit to the end user. Although technically there is another form of the Celeron, the older cacheless Celeron that was introduced in early 1998, the value of the older 266 and cacheless 300 processors has placed them at a point where they arent a good investment for any user, even if the price is right, simply because the jump to a 300A (with 128KB of L2 cache) isnt going to cost you that arm and leg.

Understanding the Celeron

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