Celeron Sideshow

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Sneaking into the picture with not much fanfare is the new Celeron.

For the average person, this is no big shakes compared to the AMD offerings.

To the overclocker, though, this is at least an intriguing project.

What This Is

The new 1.2GHz Celeron (and only the 1.2GHz Celeron) is identical to a PIII Tualatin except
that the multiplier/FSB is 12X100 rather than 9X133. Both are basically the PIII shrunk to 0.13 micron.

These processors will not work with other than the most recent socket 370 boards. (Powerleap is supposed
to be working on an adapter, but this is going to be pricey). If the mobo manufacturer doesn’t mention that your
board is Tualatin-capable, it isn’t.

The Tualatin didn’t get a lot of overclocker attention because it was expensive and because the multiplier lock
and 133Mhz FSB made a sizable overclock impractical.

Note: For those who have forgotten or didn’t know, all Intel processors made since August, 1998 have been multiplier-locked. Locked locked, not something you
can fiddle with. You can only FSB overclock with these Intel processors.

Both these problems go away in the Celeron incarnation. Even now, you can buy one for about $110. Figure the price
will be more like $80-$90 after the next scheduled round of Intel price cuts January 27, then slide downwards from there.

A 100 MHz FSB provides plenty of overclocking room.

A New System of Voltage

This processor uses VRM 8.5 standard. There’s one big difference between it and its predeccesors.

Rather than have a fixed voltage no matter how much power is being used, VRM 8.5 uses a more dynamic system in which processor
voltage varies depending on the load. The heavier the load, the lower the voltage.

So while the default voltage is 1.475V, the CPU under load will probably be using more like 1.35V.

What does that mean for overclockers? That’s not at all clear yet. The datasheets imply that VRM should keep wattage to no more than about 40 watts (or about a third more than the 30 watts used at 1.2GHz. If true, this would work out to be a very clever overclocking cap.

However, I’m not at all certain about this. Depending on a few unknowns, VRM 8.5 may well prove to be a blessing to overclockers since it effectively serves as a check to excessive overvolting.

At this point, all we can say is that some experimentation is needed and voltage strategy for the Celeron could well be quite different than it has been for earlier processors.

1.6 or Bust?

The ideal first overclocking jump for this processor would be increasing the FSB from 100 to 133Mhz, which would bring the processor from 1.2GHz to 1.6GHz. This would avoid problems with excessively overclocking the hard drives and PCI devices.

Can that be done relatively easily? So far, contradictory evidence. Somewhere around 1.5GHz looks doable based on some fairly tame attempts. This fellow needed to take some pretty aggressive moves to get to 1.6GHz.

So far, the only folks who seem to have gotten to 1.6GHz without too much problem is . . . uhhh, us. Joe picked one up the other day, and is running low-level testing at 1.68GHz at 1.65V watercooled.

That doesn’t mean we’re going to do as well running other tests, but it does look promising.

How Does It Do?

Initial indications are that a Celeron at 1.6GHz generally trails a 1.6Ghz Palomino, but not by a whole lot, especially in non-3D applications (it tends to trails more in games and Athlon strengths like rendering).

The processor it really wallops, cycle for cycle, is its sibling, the PIV.

What should be noted is that the Celeron manages to do this despite what would be considered horrendous memory scores, about half what the latest DDR boards are doing. This should tell you that the importance of memory scores has been grossly exaggerated. Yes, it helps some games, and some other applications, but for vanilla office apps, it matters very little.

Who Should Consider Buying This?

1) People Who Won’t Or Can’t Buy AMD, But Don’t Want A PIV Either I know if I had an aging PII or PIII system with SDRAM, I’d take this as a relatively cheap upgrade ($200-250) over a current PIV. I would use this to tide me
over a year or so until available systems offer a real difference in performance.

There are an awful lot of people in that category. That’s especially so for most office work. In fact, for the typical Word/Excel/Internet/email office computer, that upgrade would probably be good enough for a long, long time.

2) Hobbyists Who Want A New Challenge The Palominos don’t overclock much, and until memory gets better, FSB overclocking is stymied. We’re not going to see any serious improvements (and thus adventures) from the AMD side for a while.

For those who like the thrill and adventure of overclocking, the Celeron should provide some new adventures within the confines of current technology, and allow for bigger overclocks than we’ve seen lately from AMD.

No doubt this will give the Intelvert overclockers something to argue about with the AMDroids for a while.:)

What it isn’t is a reason for anyone who is satisfied with his or her relatively recent AMD system to abandon it.

If you’re interested in overclocking this new kid on the block, especially if you don’t share genes with Dr. Frankenstein, the one thing I would suggest looking for is find a motherboard that gives you at least the option of going to a /4 divisor at 120Mhz or at least 124Mhz. That should guarantee you an easy 20-24% overclock.

Email Ed


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