Intel’s Celeron has quickly become one of the most popular chips in Intel’s entire lineup, simply because of its incredible price point. Upon hitting the market, a Celeron rarely retails for much over $100 and even the next fastest chip is usually down below the $80 mark.
Ever since its release, the purpose of the Celeron has been to combat AMD’s K6-2 and, in some cases, the K6-III line of CPUs which are also fairly low cost competitors. Intel’s ability to drive costs down to extremely low levels made the Celeron a fierce competitor to AMD’s Super7 solutions and thus added to the success of the Celeron platform.
The Celeron further flourished as Intel’s 0.25-micron fabrication process improved, it was soon evident that Intel could release Celerons in 33MHz clock increments pretty much whenever competition demanded a faster CPU from Intel. AMD announced a 500MHz K6-2, and Intel had a 500MHz Celeron ready to battle it.
One must understand that both the Celeron and K6-2 (as well as the K6-III) are very attractive solutions to OEMs that must cut enough costs to remain competitive to the likes of the big boys out there, such as Gateway and Dell. Instead of opting for an expensive Pentium III or Athlon, these OEMs find it much easier to sell a computer to their customers based on clock speed alone, and if all their customer base is looking for is “how many MHz” they see on the product sticker, then why not sell a 500MHz Celeron for less than half the price of a 500MHz Pentium III or a 500MHz Athlon?
Fortunately, most AnandTech readers know that clock speed isn’t the definitive factor when determining the performance of a CPU. You also know that because of the Celeron’s integrated 128KB L2 cache, it is ideal for an entry level system where the most common tasks will involve running business/home office applications, surfing the internet, and even gaming. There is no reason to spend more than $100 on a CPU if all it’s going to be doing is running spell check in Word or making graphs in Excel.
So you can easily see that there is a very large market out there for the Celeron. The market is composed of those that honestly don’t need the added power a 700MHz Pentium III or Athlon would offer as well as those that purchase based on clock speed alone (there are more than you think). This market is the inspiration behind Intel’s latest addition to the slowly dying line of Celeron processors, the Celeron 533.