Intel has resurrected its abandoned socket architecture in responseleron. to PC makers' protests at the high cost of low-end Celeron chips and to AMD's rapidly increasing market penetration.
The chip giant ditched the socket set-up in favour of its proprietary Slot 1 architecture, on which the Pentium II and current Celeron chips run. But now Intel plans a new 370-pin socket connector standard for future versions of Celeron.
Intel was under pressure from OEMs to make Celeron cheaper, but could not cut the price of Slot 1 because that would reduce the margins at the high end, reported OEMs. "It is classical market segmentation," said Paul Stow, vice president of server development at Fujitsu. "This is aimed fair and square at AMD's market."
The 370-pin socket will save OEMs between #6 and #10 per motherboard because the heat sink and fan required for a socket chip are smaller, and it needs fewer clips and retainers than a slot chip, an Intel spokesman said.
The first Mendocino chips, the next generation of Celeron, due this autumn, will only be offered on Slot 1. The next wave of chips, due in early 1999, will be offered for Slot 1 and the new unnamed 370-pin socket.
However, Intel admits that the socket design is low-performance and will prohibit users from upgrading boards to Pentium II chips, which require Slot 1. The 370-pin Mendocino chips will feature 128Kb of Level 2 cache memory built on to the CPU die running at the same speed as the processor.
The new socket will sit on a 66MHz P6 bus.
The Intel spokesman claimed that the Level 2 cache could not be any larger because of physical size restrictions.
However, rival chip manufacturer AMD claims that its K6-3 processor, due at the end of this year, will feature 256Kb of Level 2 cache on the chip, and a third level cache of up to 2Mb on the 100MHz bus.
Rana Mainee, European planning manager at AMD, said: "Intel has been forced to do this to make Celeron more attractive to OEMs. I believe that what we're seeing here is a dog of a processor being put in its rightful kennel."
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