Intel Corp. announced Monday that it has begun shipping a low-cost Celeron version of its Pentium M processor, designed to bring extended battery life to the value notebook market.
The Celeron M, as the chip is now known, will ship at speeds just a grade slower than the Santa Clara, Calif., companys current Pentium M and ultra-low-voltage Pentium M offerings. The Celeron M will ship at 1.2GHz and 1.3GHz speeds. A special ultra-low-power version is also available, running at 800MHz, officials said.
In 1,000-unit lots, the Intel Celeron M processors at 1.30GHz and 1.20GHz are priced at $134 and $107, respectively; the ultra-low-power Celeron M is priced at $161. Each is priced about $150 less than the Pentium M and ultra-low-voltage Pentium M, which are sold together with the Intel 855GM chip set and Pro/Wireless 2100 802.11b wireless module.
The reduction in price will mean a corresponding drop in price for products that use Intels “mobility” processors, which include the Pentium M and Celeron M, analysts said. Throughout 2003, Pentium M notebooks were priced from $1,250 to about $1,700, slightly above the average notebook price of $1,300, said Stephen Baker, an analyst with The NPD Group, in Port Washington, N.Y. During the past 15 months, sub-$1,000 notebooks have represented less than 15 percent of the overall market, he said.
“Obviously if you go below $1,000 youre starting to talk about volume sales, although maybe not revenue,” Baker said.
Although the new processor adds another variation to Intels product line, analysts said it will help settle Intels product portfolio into a few familiar segments. Over the last year, Intel has offered mobile versions of its Pentium 4 and Pentium III, both optimized for laptops and as full-speed “desktop replacement” chips. Intels Pentium M “Banias” processors stirred long battery life into the mix.
Intels mobile Celeron, meanwhile, has been steered toward the “desktop replacement” segment of the market, said analyst Dean McCarron, of Mercury Research, in Cave Creek, Ariz., leaving a hole where a low-cost mobile processor could fit.
“Now you have a return to classic quadrants, where you can decide what matters more: power consumption or performance, and then [cost] value versus performance,” McCarron said.
The low price is most likely the result of the smaller Level 2 cache included in the chip, as Intel trimmed the Pentium Ms 1MB cache to 512KB. Intel could also save money by turning off potentially defective segments of Pentium M cache; instead of scrapping the chip entirely, Intel can resell the chip as a Celeron M, McCarron said.
Interestingly, the Celeron M will be sold as a stand-alone processor, instead of being offered as part of the companys Centrino platform, which includes the Intel 855PM chip set as well as the companys Pro/Wireless 802.11b module. “Celeron M will not be a component of Centrino technology,” said Mary-Ellin Brooks, an Intel spokeswoman.
Brooks said a notebook designer could design a Celeron M notebook in conjunction with wireless technology from another manufacturer. She added that she did not know if the chip would be shipped with Intels existing wireless modules.
The Celeron M is designed to work with the Intel 855 chip-set family as well as the Intel 852GM, using a front-side bus speed of 400MHz.
The chip, which is manufactured on a 0.13-micron process., was quietly added to Intels road map last summer.
“Weve planned for quite a while,” Brooks said. “You will see us do this on Celeron over time, moving it to newer technology.”