Intel Cranks Up Budget PC Chip to 766MHz

It's Monday so it must be time for some faster chips.

Intel Corp. rolled out two new Celeron processors Monday running at clockspeeds of 766MHz and 733MHz. At the same time, the chip maker touted new market research showing that the company has regained lost ground in U.S. retail stores.

The new Celerons are available immediately in PCs from Hewlett-Packard Co., with other new machines due soon from Compaq Computer Corp. and other major vendors, said Intel spokesman Seth Walker. Celeron processors are aimed at PCs priced at about US$1,000 or less.

New research from NPD Intelect, which tracks hardware shipments in the U.S., shows that Intel-based systems accounted for 94 percent of all sub-$1,000 PCs sold in retail stores during the first nine months of the year, according to Walker. Intel's share of that market had fallen to as low as 50 percent in the first three months of the year.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. holds the speed crown for budget PC chips after releasing an 800MHz version of its Duron processor last month. However, the supply of Duron systems is limited, and the processor probably won't ship in high volumes until the first quarter of 2001, AMD spokesman Drew Prairie said.

Prairie hadn't seen the NPD figures and couldn't comment on them. However, while AMD may have lost share at the very low end of the market, Prairie said AMD has been gaining ground in PCs priced from $1,000 to $1,500. Its share of the U.S. retail market in that price bracket increased to 13 percent in the third quarter of 2000, up from 3 percent in the second quarter, he said, citing research from PC Data Corp.

"It all depends on which market you choose to focus on," Prairie said. "We focussed on that market because ASPs (average selling prices) are higher."

Nevertheless, the NPD Intelect data appears to show an impressive turnaround for Intel. The company has worked hard to recoup its losses to AMD in the sub-$1,000 market, releasing no fewer than eight new Celeron processors since January.

Like previous Celerons, the chips released Monday feature 128K bytes of on-chip Level 2 cache memory and a 66MHz system bus. They are being manufactured using Intel's 0.18-micron manufacturing process.

In 1,000-unit quantities, the Celeron processors at 766MHz and 733MHz are priced at $170 and $112, respectively, Intel said. The fastest Celeron available before Monday ran at 700MHz.

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