With the introduction of the new 1.7 and 1.8GHz Celeron Intel has finally abandoned the very successful Pentium III architecture that has been the driving force behind Intelís processors ever since itís introduction with the Pentium Pro over six years ago. The new Celeron is based on the Pentium 4 architecture and as such uses the same Socket-478 form factor with the biggest advantage of it now being compatible with every Pentium 4 motherboard, unlike the old Celeron that used the Socket-370 form factor.
Just as with the old Celeron the new Celeron has to make due with less cache memory, 128Kb instead of the 512Kb which is now common on the Pentium 4 with Northwood core. The different core types also further differentiate the Celeron from the current batch of Pentium 4s, theyíre based on the older Willamette, 0.18micron, core and thus have less clockspeed headroom and also require a higher voltage to run. We are getting signals from both Intel and the OEMs however that we will soon see Celerons based on the Northwood core as Intel is quickly migrating all of their factories to the 0.13micron process. Whether thatíll also mean a boost in cache memory size, to 256Kb, remains to be seen as that would mean that the Northwood Celerons are just as fast, or faster, than the older Pentium 4s based on the Willamette core that also featured 256Kb.
Fig 1. The new Socket-478 Celeron featuring the Pentium 4 architecture and 128Kb cache.
One thing is certain though; the new Celeron will find its way into the budget PCs and lower priced regions of the PC market and will bring the Pentium 4 architecture and at least part of its performance to an even broader audience. Because of that it looks like the circle is complete as Intel now has a part based on the Pentium 4 architecture in every segment, ranging from the Mobile Pentium 4-M to the new Xeon found in high-performance workstations and servers. And although thereís not much difference in architecture between a Mobile Pentium 4-M and a desktop version, or between a desktop Pentium 4 and a Xeon, weíre naturally interested in how the new Celeron fares. Is it crippled by the lack of a large L2-cache? Or isnít the NetBurst architecture that is at the basis of the Pentium 4 architecture taking a big performance hit from the smaller cache? In the next few pages weíll take a quick look at the new Celeron and the 845G chipset that is especially suited to work well with it.
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