Intel revs 433MHz, 466MHz mobile chips

And Gateway and Dell are already ordering the speedy Celerons -- paving the way for notebooks with brand-new features.

Intel announced a performance boost for low-cost notebook PCs on Wednesday -- introducing its latest mobile Celeron processors, running at 433MHz and 466MHz.

While it's a run-of-the-mill announcement for Intel, end users may find that notebooks with the chips are packing brand-new features. That's because the Celeron costs much less than Intel's Pentium II and forthcoming mobile Pentium III chips. The mobile 400MHz Pentium II, for example, cost $358 per 1000. The lower cost can help notebook vendors incorporate new features, such as larger screen sizes and new disk drive technologies, but still arrive at prices around the $2000 mark.

Dell Computer, for example, is taking orders on the new Inspiron 7500, which offers the 433MHz or 466MHz mobile Celeron chips.

The Inspiron 7500 replaces the Inspiron 7000 notebook, and packs in several new features, including improved screen technology, Dell officials said.

The new notebook offers an optional high-resolution 15-inch SXGA display, capable of producing resolutions of up to 1400 by 1050. The notebook also offers the new MegaBay drive bay. The MegaBay houses the notebook's battery, but users can remove the battery and add a hard drive or Zip drive, when running on AC power.

The Inspiron 7500 will start at about $1999 with the 433MHz Celeron chip. The machine, in coming months, will be upgraded with a 15.4-inch screen, the officials said.

Another vendor packing in new features is Gateway. The company announced Wednesday morning a new model in its Solo 9300 notebook line. Along with supporting the new 433MHz Celeron chip, the Solo model includes a CD-Rewriteable drive and an Imation Super Disk drive. It will start at about $2499, company officials said.

Gateway lays claim to being one of the first notebook vendors to ship a CD-R drive with one of its systems. The drive allows users to store up to 650MB on a single CD and then and write over it if they should so desire. The SuperDisk uses 3.5-inch floppy disks that hold 120MB of data, but are still compatible with traditional 1.5MB floppies. The drive is gaining in popularity among many vendors, including Gateway and Compaq Computer.

The new mobile Celeron chips will be fairly simple for notebook vendors to incorporate, as they utilise the same packaging as previous mobile Celeron chips. They do, however, deliver somewhat better performance to users for much lower prices than mobile Pentium II chips. The 433MHz chip, priced at $159 per 1000, is about 10 percent faster than the 400MHz mobile Celeron and the 466MHz, priced at $209 per 1000, will run about 20 percent faster, Intel officials said.

While Intel announced the new mobile Celeron chips, Advanced Micro Devices is expected to follow suit shortly with new mobile K6-2 and K6-III processors of its own.