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New Intel Celeron chip planned

The chipmaker decides to boost the speed of its processor for low-cost PCs.

Intel has decided to speed up the development plan on its Celeron processors and will release two more versions of the chip rather than one this year.

During the third quarter, Intel will release a 300-MHz Celeron processor that does not include the extra "secondary cache" high-speed memory chip. Currently, the Celeron runs at 266 MHz.

It will follow this in the fourth quarter with a 333-MHz Celeron processor with 128K of secondary cache memory integrated onto the same piece of silicon as the processor, said Manny Vara, an Intel spokesman. This latter version is code-named Mendocino.

Celeron, which is based around the Pentium II architecture, is Intel's processor targeted at PCs starting at $1,200 and less. It came out in April.

Under the earlier product road map, Intel was going to release a 300-MHz version of the Mendocino chip in the second half of the year and a 333-MHz version in the first part of 1999.

The secondary cache essentially acts as quick-access memory for the processor, improving overall system performance. The initial version of the Celeron processor released in April was the first Pentium II-based chip to not include a secondary cache memory chip. This was done as a cost-saving measure.

But a number of analysts have stated that this "cacheless" version of Celeron, which runs at 266 MHz, does not perform even as well as older Pentium MMX chips running at equivalent speeds.

Some PC manufacturers, including Dell, did not release products based around the cacheless version of Celeron at the time the chip was released. Dell, among others, has indicated that the company is more interested in the integrated versions of the chip.

Vara said that Intel changed its road map because the conversion to the 0.25-micron manufacturing process has gone better than expected.