Intel boosts Celeron and reveals lower-speed Pentium

Cost-conscious consumers in search of a reason for buying a new PC just got a little extra incentive from Intel Corp. On Wednesday the diversified chipmaker began offering more bang for its buck with the introduction of an 800MHz Celeron processor.

Intel also acknowledged that it is shipping a 1.3GHz Pentium 4 processor that is less expensive than the 1.4GHz and 1.5GHz speeds introduced at the chip’s launch in November.

The throttled 800MHz Celeron chip, designed for the value-priced PC market, matches the fastest AMD Duron processor from competitor Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in both speed and price, with both chips starting at US$170 in lots of 1,000 units, according to published prices.

As a price comparison, Intel’s performance-grade Pentium III processor and AMD’s equivalent – the Athlon processor – start at around $350 per 1,000 for 1GHz chips.

Supported by Intel’s 810E2 chip set, the 800MHz Celeron chip is the first Celeron from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel to sport the company’s 100MHz system bus, officials said.

Getting the Celeron’s system bus speed to three digits sets it half way to AMD’s average bus speed of 200MHz, and will help optimize the new Intel chip in PCs by allowing for faster data throughput to and from the chip itself, according to Intel.

Intel on Wednesday also confirmed the availability of a 1.3GHz Pentium 4 chip, which a source said has actually been for sale for nearly a month on certain PC vendors’ Web sites, namely Round Rock, Texas-based Dell.

Dell officials asked Intel to make the 1.3GHz Pentium 4 available for Dell customers wanting the newest Intel chip in PCs costing less than $1,500, the source said.

The 1.3GHz Pentium 4 costs $409 in lots of 1,000.

Intel officials said several PC vendors would have the 1.3GHz Pentium 4 loaded into computers on display at the Consumer Electronics Show, which begins Friday in Las Vegas.