Yesterday (Aug 24, 1998) Intel announced three new processors, the Pentium II 450 and two new Celeron CPUs ‘Celeron 300 A’ and ‘Celeron 333’. At the first look there’s really nothing spectacular about those three new CPUs, it gives the impression as if Intel was simply cranking up the clock frequency.
The Major Difference Between the Old And the New Celeron - On-Die Full Speed 2nd Level Cache
The only thing that somehow catches attention is the little ‘A’ in the name of the new Celeron 300. So far there was a Celeron 266 and Celeron 300, both not exactly loved by the press or public. Those two ‘old’ Celerons are using the well known ‘Deschutes’ core that’s also found in Pentium II and Pentium II Xeon processors. The Pentium II teams it up with two ‘BSRAM’ half speed 2nd level cache chips whilst the Xeon is running this core together with a full speed ‘CSRAM’ . The old Celeron however had to run the ‘Deschutes’ core without any 2nd level cache, thus making the product significantly cheaper than the two brothers whilst lowering the office application performance compared to Pentium II and Xeon significantly too. The 3D gaming performance of the old Celeron however was pretty impressive, making this CPU an excellent and cheap multi media solution for home users. Another big advantage of the ‘cacheless’ Celeron is its great usefulness for overclockers. Celerons running at 400 MHz in BX boards are a powerful and pretty inexpensive solution for people who don’t fear overclocking and who are planning a future upgrade to a 100 MHz Pentium II CPU for the same motherboard.
The Old Celeron Is Almost Dead - Long Live the New Celeron!
Now what’s the story about the ‘A’ and why is the new Celeron 333 unexpectedly different to a Celeron 266 or 300 that’s simply running at 333 MHz? Well, first of all I would like to take the opportunity and congratulate Intel for the craziest marketing strategy I’ve ever come across. Releasing a product with a new name that gets pretty bad press and then launching a product with the same name that’s significantly better is pretty much the opposite to what any other company has ever done or would ever do in the future. There is still a huge number of users out there who combine ‘bad performance’ with the name ‘Celeron’, generated by a vast amount of publications who only looked at office performance, ignoring the 3D and FPU performance at the same time. It seems as if Intel is very much depending on the press for letting the people know that the new Celeron is completely different. For the sake of my readership I won’t disappoint Intel’s expectations this time.
128 Kb On-Die Full Speed 2nd Level Cache Makes the Difference
The new Celeron is indeed a whole lot different to its predecessor. The Celeron 300 A and the Celeron 333 comes now with an internal on-die 2nd level cache of 128 kB, which is even running at CPU clock frequency and thus faster than the 2nd level cache of a Pentium II running at only half the CPU clock frequency. This accelerates the new Celerons to a speed that’s virtually identical to the speed of Pentium II CPUs at the same clock speed. Office applications, 3D games and even 3D rendering programs do hardly make any difference between 512 kB 2nd level cache running at half the CPU clock or 128 kB 2nd level cache running at CPU clock. There may be some software that takes particular advantage of the larger L2 cache of the Pentium II but at the same time there may be software that takes advantage of the faster L2 cache of the new Celerons.