Platform Trends: The Celeron Comes Back
Platform Trends: The Celeron Comes Back
Intel's recent blitz of 45-nanometer-process CPUs has made headlines, with PC performance buffs salivating in anticipation of the processors' release date. The announcements totally redefined the mainstream and high-end processor markets. But with the least expensive 45nm Core 2 Duo hovering around the $200 mark, they left budget-conscious buyers waiting for the other shoe to drop.
As it happens, Intel hasn't forgotten the penny-pinchers, but it is giving them something unexpected: Instead of cutting Core 2 Duo prices, the chipmaker has added a dual-core part to its Celeron bargain brand.
This may have been a small move on paper, but it will reverberate longer and deeper than any recent Core 2 news. Intel still calls the shots as far as corporate desktops and their minimum requirements go; businesses may try AMD, but they buy Intel, especially at the entry level. The availability of a dual-core Celeron speaks volumes about what a standard desktop configuration is going to be in 2008.
A Celeron in Name Only
It may wear a similar $60 to $70 price tag, but the new Celeron E1200 has absolutely nothing to do with the single-core Celeron processors; it's based on the Core 2 architecture. But those expecting to buy a Core 2 Duo at a Celeron price will also be disappointed, as Intel has made sure that the new CPU will not be competing with its higher-priced Core 2 lines.
While faster E1000 series models will be forthcoming later this year, the E1200 is a 65-nanometer LGA775 processor that sports a clock speed of 1.6GHz and an 800MHz front-side bus. The internals of the Celeron E1000 series are an Allendale/Conroe variant with dual 32K L1 data caches and 512K of Advanced Smart Cache.
The former remains consistent with previous Core 2 Conroe/Penryn designs, but the L2 cache has been cut down severely. The Core 2 Conroe features 4MB of Smart Cache, while the Penryn ups that to 6MB, and even the low-cost Pentium Dual-Core (also based on the Allendale core) features a full 1MB of Level 2.
Other parts of the architecture have been economized, such as 8-way cache associativity versus 16-way for the Conroe and 24-way for the Penryn. The processor's thermal design power is 65 watts, which is comparable with mainstream Core 2 pieces, but with only 512K of L2 cache and a 1.6GHz clock, the Celeron will almost surely run at a lower temperature.
Performance Is a Mixed Bag
Whenever Intel starts fooling around with Level 2 cache to differentiate performance levels, as the company has done many times with the Celeron, it's usually a hit-or-miss proposition. Some applications and games rely heavily on the size and speed of the L2 cache, while others are more affected by clock speed and base architecture.
The Celeron E1000 series is no different; some benchmark tests treat it like a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo, while others fill the L2 cache and ask for seconds -- or even thirds. Besides taking a back seat to the Core 2 Duo, the E1200 trails even AMD's low-cost Athlon X2 models. Once Intel moves above 2.0GHz, it could be a different story, but the combination of a 1.6GHz clock and pint-sized cache simply does not translate into blazing speed.
But the inherent benefits of dual-core architecture remain, and when compared to the single-core Celeron, it's no contest. Even a stunted Allendale is more than a match for the Celeron D and its aging Prescott 1M core. Simply the presence of a dual-core processor makes for a smoother multitasking desktop and increased multithreading performance.
(Almost) All the Features, (Not Quite) Half the Price
One of the most important aspects of the dual-core Celeron E1200 is not its performance or even its price, but its feature set. Since this CPU is based on the Core 2 architecture, it brings with it support for important features like Intel EM64T 64-bit support; Execute Disable Bit virus protection, and Enhanced Intel SpeedStep power-saving.
These are all features that modern users demand, but prior Celeron iterations have always been a few steps behind Intel's mainstream offerings; indeed, low-priced Pentium Dual-Core models already had these checklist items. There are still some gaps in the feature set, as the E1000 series does not support Intel Virtualization Technology, and there is no mention of SSE4 in the documentation.
Certainly there are other dual-core processors on the market that dip below the $100 mark, such as the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ and 4200+. But many businesses continue to be Intel-centric, and are forced to either pay up for a Core 2 Duo system or settle for a single-core Celeron. Now that a dual-core Celeron is available, it's a no-brainer that IT managers will flock to these systems, which offer the best of both worlds -- dual-core multitasking and multithreading combined with a low price tag.
Some bargain-hunting enthusiasts are also sniffing around the Celeron E1200, hoping to overclock their way to glory. There are many reasons for this, but most obvious are the new chip's Core 2 lineage, low cost, 512K of L2 cache, and low CPU multiplier. This all combines to a potential windfall for low-budget overclockers, especially as Intel platforms support the 800MHz, 1066MHz, 1333MHz, and even the 1600MHz front-side bus at standard clocks, giving enthusiasts many safe areas to shoot for. Initial results have been very positive, with many E1200s hitting clock speeds of over 3.0GHz without even trying.
Two Steps in the Right Direction
The Celeron E1200 may not be an impressive release by itself, but it moves the entry-level desktop in the right direction -- and with a bit of style, considering the addition of features like Enhanced SpeedStep to the mix.
The expansion of the multicore installed base is also good news, as it will feed the continued growth of multithreaded software. Bringing dual-core architecture to the Celeron may not be a revolution in desktop processing, but it's still a dramatic and positive shift in the specs of entry-level systems.
Quit posting junk posts just to advertise in your signature you moron.
We don't care about your grant scam!
edit: mods, please delete this sig, thanks.
Last edited by RealBeast; 01-23-2008 at 09:34 PM.
All of this guy's posts are exactly like this. He needs to be banned.
Intel Q6600 @ 334x9  Giga-Byte P35-DS3R  6GB GSkill DDR2-800 4-4-5  Radeon HD 2900 XT 512MB  Seagate 7200.8 250GB + WD 320GB x3 in RAID 5  Pioneer slot-load 16x DVD  Lite-On 32x12x40x CDRW  Onboard Sound -> Altec Lansing 641 speakers  ESI Juli@ -> Practical Devices XM4 -> AudioTechnica A900 headphones  Mitsubishi 200NF 22" Diamondtron CRT  Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
is better than your current music player/library!
Yup, just bogus post for a stupid ad. I'm sure that the mods will delete him soon.
Originally Posted by MrBrett