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Closer Look at the New Celeron Processors

Over the course of many years Intel has been using the same approach to designing affordable processors. Inexpensive CPUs were made from regular mainstream CPUs by partially or fully disabling certain functional units in them. Later on they started utilizing the same approach to designing higher-end processors – the Pentium series. This time Intel resorted to the same strategy. It makes absolutely no sense to make any engineering or technological modifications for the entry-level processors that is why all dual-core LGA1155 CPUs including Core i3, Pentium and Celeron use the same semiconductor dies. And the availability or lack of certain functions allows to clearly distinguish between the product families.

Pentium processors suffered most in this situation, as the list of differences between them and the Core i3 is quite long. Inexpensive Pentium CPUs not just got lower clock speeds than Core i3, they also do not support Hyper-Threading and Quick Sync as well as AES and AVX instructions.

Celeron turned out a little luckier in this case. Since almost everything they could possibly disable in Sandy Bridge processors has already been disabled in Pentium, they differences from the higher-end series are truly minimal. Celeron processors have smaller L3 cache: it has been reduced from 3 MB to 2 MB. Besides, the entry-level processors work at lower clock frequencies than Pentium CPUs: the maximum frequency of their computational cores doesn’t exceed 2.5 GHz and the graphics core works at 1.0 GHz maximum frequency.

* - not taking into account the single-core model 

In its initial incarnation the Celeron model line-up consists of four processors: G540, G530, G530T and G440. The first two models are typical dual-core CPUs, and the CPU with a “T” letter in the model name is an energy-efficient model with lowered 35 W TDP. As for the very junior model, the G440, can hardly be considered a Celeron, frankly speaking. This is a single-core “CPU wannabe” with the lowest possible clock frequency, which existence is truly surprising.

The table below shows the major technical specifications of the four new Celeron processors:

Intel gave us the opportunity to check out two processors from the new product line-up: Celeron G540 and the junior Celeron G440. The screenshots from the diagnostic CPU-Z utility are given below:

Intel Celeron G540

Intel Celeron G440

Note that both processors use D2 core revision, which once again confirms that Core i3, Pentium and Celeron processors all use the same semiconductor die. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that these three processor series differ substantially from one another. As you can see from the screenshots, they have different L2 cache size, clock frequencies and the list of supported instructions.

As for Celeron G440 processor, it looks very strange compared with all other products on Sandy Bridge microarchitecture. It is not just the only existing single-core LGA1155 processor, but also works at the minimal clock speed possible, since x16 is the lowest clock frequency multiplier supported by Sandy Bridge. By the way, it means that this processor doesn’t support Enhanced Intel SpeedStep (EIST), because there is no room for lowering its clock frequency in idle mode. We have the feeling that the only reason why Intel made Celeron G440 is to find a way to re-utilize defective semiconductor dies with one non-operational core. Another piece of evidence supporting this assumption is the 6 times smaller L3 cache. However, all this doesn’t mean that Celeron G440 won’t be able to find its market niche.

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