New Celeron processors join Intel's lineup today, boasting speeds of 800MHz and a faster system bus, which now run at 100MHz (previous Celerons used a 66MHz bus).
Systems with the new CPUs should arrive by the end of the month. Budget-conscious PC buyers can expect slightly better performance over existing Celeron systems - and prices that stay in the sub-£800 category.
For businesses or consumers who want Intel inside, Celeron systems are a good deal, says Rob Enderele, an analyst with US-based Giga Information Group.
The Celeron's old 66MHz bus created a bottleneck that slowed the system's performance; AMD's Duron uses a fast 200MHz bus. As a result, Duron-based systems often outran Celeron-based systems with comparable processor speeds.
With the new bus, Enderle says he doesn't expect users to see much, if any, performance difference between comparable-speed Celeron and Duron-based systems.
The new Celeron systems "really represent the value in the market," he says.
Celerons are part of Intel's economy line, he says, and the new chips "raise the bar for the bottom, bringing them up to a bar only recently exceeded by Pentium IIIs."
"It's about time," says Kevin Krewell, a senior analyst with MicroDesign Resources, referring to the Celeron's bus-speed increase.
There was no real reason to keep the units at 66 MHz other than Intel's need to maintain differentiation between the value Celerons and Pentium IIIs, which was a real shame for consumers, he says.
Intel also announced the arrival of its 1.3GHz Pentium 4. Previously, the Pentium 4 was offered only at 1.4- and 1.5GHz speeds.