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Intel positions Celeron against Athlon

Loses the plot big time

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What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago, Chipzilla was snug inside its ivory tower, pouring scorn on the 'imitators'. Everything in the garden was rosy and world+dog waited eagerly for every speed bump Intel deigned to release. At the low end, the chip behemoth poured scorn on little Cyrix and its System on a Chip plans. We sat through numerous presentations from senior Intel dudes assuring us that the SoC concept was complete crap because upgrades were impossible. At the high end no one took AMD seriously, due to yield and reliability questions. Intel had everything under control. But an unbelieveable series of self-inflicted cock-ups has so effectively screwed Intel's plans that it is now clear that the company simply doesn't have a clue about what to do next. Athlon goes from strength to strength and, coupled with continuing shortages of Coppermine Pentium IIIs, more and more OEMs are moving to the AMD platform for their high-end desktop systems. The latest price cuts on the Athlon make PIII look singularly unattractive. Intel's reaction? To position little Celeron against Athlon. How stupid does Intel think its customers and users are? Celeron looks like becoming a dumping ground for Coppermines that didn't make the grade in testing and don't run properly at 100MHz FSB. They get tweaked to run at 66MHz and flogged off cheap as Celerons at the same price as Athlons. Intel will naturally trumpet that Celeron now has Screaming Sindie's Extensions and the new 0.18 micron Coppermine core. Don't be fooled. It's only doing this because Chipzilla is desperate not to allow Pentium III to be positioned against Athlon. It is also worth remembering that Celeron - now a pretty good value CPU - was originally rushed to market before it was ready (no L2 cache) in a knee-jerk response to AMD eroding market share at the low end. Later this year, Intel will send out for a large order of humble pie when it launches the next generation Celeron, codenamed Timna - a SoC product just like the Cyrix ones it sneered at a few short months ago. And I'm not going to bore you by repeating the never-ending saga of non-functional Caminogate mobos and chipsets, let alone the Rambus farce or the abandonment of the i740, and with it, the graphics chip business. In a way it's a shame to see how the mighty Intel has fallen. It has produced some pretty damn fine products, but has been brought low by its unbelievable arrogance and a quaint belief that the world of IT owed it a living. For the first time in its history, the company has to react to a market it no longer controls. And it patently hasn't got a bloody clue how to do it. ®

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